Kirby and the Forgotten Land: The Final Preview
Did you ever think that Kirby would be a vending machine that shoots soda at poor, unsuspecting enemies? What about a flight of stairs that can crush people? I certainly didn’t, but I’m so glad he can. For this hands-on preview, I had to explore the entire first world of Kirby’s newest adventure, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, including the end-of-world boss, which turned out to be quite a challenge. I also got to try out a few time-limited challenge areas, find a bunch of collectibles, and of course, transform Kirby in about half a dozen ways – and I enjoyed every minute of it.
32 brand new screenshots of Kirby and the Forgotten Land
The core of any Kirby game is the variety of power-ups he can get from different enemies – and this is no different in Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Most of the early stages are split, sometimes even mini-bosses appear halfway through, and throughout the levels, Kirby will have access to a variety of copy abilities to fight against his opponents. The choice is important here, as it almost never forces you to use an ability you don’t want. Even before the boss, you will be offered several power options with which to fight.
The copying capabilities are great, but the first world didn’t offer anything I hadn’t seen before, with the exception of the newly implemented Mouthful Mode. I don’t mean to say the bonuses aren’t fun, but Mouthful Mode steals the show. We’ve already seen Kirby take on car form in earlier trailers, and it’s as fun as you can imagine. Driving and jumping around the stage, crashing into enemies and obstacles, and even using them to uncover secrets will never get old – but a car isn’t the only option.
In the first world alone, Kirby will have access to about half a dozen transformations in Mouthful Mode. He can become a set of ladders that not only crushes his opponents but can also be used to access hard-to-reach previously inaccessible areas, a traffic cone that can bring down high-damage enemies and break cracks in the road and pipes, and even a vending machine that uses carbonated drinks as ammunition. Imagine going back to 1992 and telling someone playing Kirby’s Dream Land on their Game Boy that one day Kirby could be a vending machine. I would like to see their reaction.
Mouthful Mode isn’t just something that happens at super-special moments in a scene; they actually pop up quite a bit. Also, going into Mouthful Mode doesn’t remove your active copy ability, so there’s nothing stopping you from being a traffic cone as long as the scene allows. But it’s also not always easy to become a strong power-up; you’ll see Kirby absorbing parts of the environment to move obstacles, such as standing on top of a water tower to open it, or even a set of lockers that he can tip over to reveal hidden secrets.
It doesn’t stop there. Between levels, you’ll be on the world map, but pressing the button teleports Kirby to the city of Waddle Dee, sort of the center of the world filled with things to do. It has a cinema that lets you rewatch any cutscene you’ve previously seen, a vending machine that you can buy statues from, and even a weapon shop. Over time, you’ll be able to unlock even more parts of the city, such as the fishing mini-game and even Kirby’s house. In the armory, you will have the opportunity to transform any power you have accumulated on your journey and spend currency to unlock more powerful versions. What was once a flamethrower now becomes the power of a volcano, allowing Kirby to fire giant rocks of molten lava. You can even knock the devil out of a sandbag to test them all.
The weapons workshop, the new Waddle Dee city buildings, and even progress are all linked to the collectibles that can be found throughout the levels. Fans of the Mario 3D World series will feel right at home with Kirby in the Forgotten Land. This is not a side-scroller but a gorgeous semi-3D world with linear scenes. That doesn’t mean you’ll always just go from A to B. Each level is littered with collectibles and secrets, and each one presents a new challenge for you to discover. In one stage, you light the lanterns using Kirby’s flamethrower, and in another, you rip down the wanted posters. But collectibles don’t always bring you the coveted Waddle Dee (essentially the stars found in Mario 3D). Sometimes, it’s a challenge, like completing a stage without knocking your car off a cliff or even defeating a boss without getting hit.
This is where a lot of problems come from. Unsurprisingly, this Kirby game, like many others before it, shows great difficulty, especially in the beginning. You are given two difficult options that you can change at any time, and even on the harder option, I can still get through most of the stages without getting hit, even though I fully suspect this will change in the future. Instead, most of the trouble comes from finding well-hidden secrets. Like in Mario 3D World or even Sackboy’s Big Adventure, the camera itself hides many areas that Kirby can squeeze through to find hidden goodies, and like in other games, every time I finish a stage and realize I’ve missed Waddle Dee or two, I immediately felt the need to dive back in to track them down.
Collectibles don’t always bring you the coveted Waddle Dee sometimes; it’s a tough challenge, like completing a stage without knocking your car off a cliff or even defeating a boss without getting hit.
Finally, after completing the various stages and challenge rooms that the world map has to offer, you can fight the boss in that current world. In the first world, Natural Plains, this is a giant gorilla that can land quite a few hits if you’re not careful. Also, as I mentioned earlier, there’s the added challenge of defeating him without taking a single hit if you feel compelled to collect every Waddle Dee. I was able to do this after a couple of tries, and it really got me excited about what the future might hold. As simple as it can be at times, the sudden increase in difficulty due to the fact that I have the drive to find all the collectibles, I was encouraged by some of the challenges that I hope to face soon.
Difficulty pockets are scattered quite a bit for those looking for them. Let’s face it, Kirby can fly. So platforming over holes in the world will almost never be a problem, but it can’t fly freely to the top of the stage, so platform puzzles still need to be solved in a more traditional way. In unlockable challenge rooms, you’ll be able to master all of Kirby’s various power-ups. Just passing through one of these stages is easy enough, but if you want to spend an extra star on weapon upgrades, you’ll need to complete them in a fairly short amount of time.
The game that surprised me the most was Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Going through the first stage, I was worried that I would have to walk a lot through linear corridors, destroying the simplest enemies that have ever graced a video game. I’m happy to say that it has consistently proven me wrong. With its well-hidden secret collectibles, tricky ways to earn Waddle Dee, and treasure challenge stages, Kirby and the Forgotten Land will be a challenge for those who seek it – I can’t wait for the time on Treasure Road to be reduced to a minimum. I can compete with my Nintendo Switch friends. I also think that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of transformations – I’ve seen a lot already, and I can’t wait to be surprised at what else they come up with.