Kirby and the Forgotten Land preview: A classic Kirby romp on Switch

Kirby and forgotten land is a large 3D output of the pink ball on the Switch. No longer limited to side-scrolling most of his games, Kirby is able to freely consume enemies and roam through many more open spaces than usual. But make no mistake: this is not Kirby. Breath of the Wild or ancient ring. In a world filled with gigantic sequels where players can explore every nook and cranny of the vast world, Kirby seems to take a more low-key approach, and I’m happy to see him dip just one pink finger into the wider world.
During the preview for Kirby and the Forgotten Land, I was able to complete the first world of the game and the boss battle. But unlike previous Kirby games, which usually start out with grassy fields and a wild tree, Kirby and the Forgotten Land see our hero wandering around the post-apocalyptic city. Lush vegetation-covered roads, traffic lights, and the remains of a dilapidated mall.
While it’s a fresh set on its own, modern earth also gives Kirby some interesting new tools. Enter: Mouthful Mode, Kirby’s creative take on giant modern items he can’t stomach. Instead of sucking up the car and becoming a vehicle, Kirby will stretch his giant mouth into it all, leaving his little eyes blinking on the front bumper and his legs dangling in the wind behind the exhaust pipe. With this car, I could drive it through levels and ramps and uncover new secrets as I crashed into cracked walls.
Unlike Kirby’s other abilities (sword, flame, ice, classic), items in Mouthfull are mostly scripted. I suck up a traffic cone and use it, for example, to break through a boss’s weak spot and then spit it out to move further up the level. Each new element of Mouthful Mode delighted me, and even if the puzzle solutions were obvious, they always allowed for a nice change of pace. Watching Kirby toss his throat over a massive staircase or a water tower is so satisfying that I intentionally spat out the item to see the animation again.
Outside of Mouthful Mode and 3D level movement, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is structured much like a typical Kirby game. Using my Warp Star, I fly to new levels, collect captured Waddle Dees along the way, and then move on to the next one. There is no relationship between the missions outside of their grassy post-apocalyptic theme, and each level is linear, with slight deviations from the central path.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is delightful in part because of that simplicity. It’s charming and looks great. (Except for distant enemies, which move at a single-digit frame rate.) Instead of reinventing the wheel, Forgotten Land gives me just the slightest change in the Kirby formula that I grew up loving. And when I ran into many other games over 50 hours this year, I enjoyed the relaxing pace of Kirby’s 10-minute levels.
However, I also left my gaming session with a slight hint of fear. Because Kirby games are so simple, they tend to wear out their charm. It’s not that Kirby is getting any less cute – it’s just that I don’t want to spend 10 hours making him do the same sickeningly cute things. I’ve taken on Kirby games in the past but lost momentum when the game couldn’t show me anything new for multiple worlds in a row. However, despite the series’ historical penchant for too much, it’s just I’m optimistic and want to play more.
At least in the first world, Kirby and the Forgotten Land does a great job of masking much of the gameplay I’ve seen before and showing me enough new layers that I can’t wait to play some more. I just hope it keeps opening these new layers for the duration of the run.
The game will release exclusively for Nintendo Switch on March 25th.

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