“Kirby and the Forgotten Land:” fluffy, friendly, family fun.

Emma Homan, Feature News Director

Nintendo’s most recent addition to the Kirby franchise, “Kirby and the Forgotten Land,”  is nothing short of a good time. Both the old staple mechanics brought back with extra features, and new mechanics like Mouthful Mode provide a great mix of new and old alongside the updated graphics and environments. “Forgotten Land” is also the first Kirby game to be fully 3D, with the extra dimension creating ample space for secrets and extra challenges.

One of the many new features added to the franchise was the inclusion of special challenges to collect the main “currency” of progression, rescued Waddle Dees. Each level includes a series of challenges, alongside an amount of hidden Waddle Dees that can be rescued by completing small challenges, entering secret rooms, or defeating minibosses. While you get three for free by completing a level, each area boss is locked behind the collection of a set amount, and every Waddle Dee you save is added to a growing town that serves as a home base, allowing you to purchase items, play minigames, and do special challenges. While the challenges start out easy, the further into the game you progress the more difficult they become as levels get larger, more complex, and more challenging. These challenges add a lot of extra enjoyment to the game, as it forces a player to slow down, observe the scenery, and pick up on extra design details they may have never noticed. It also creates difficulty within an established easy game series. Blowing through a level is one thing, getting every challenge at the same pace is another.

Another unique addition to the franchise is the ability to upgrade copy abilities, or the abilities Kirby gets by inhaling special enemies, into more powerful forms. Each upgrade adds a cosmetic change to the ability alongside the power buff, and the ability to toggle to an unupgraded ability is a nice touch as well. 

The gameplay is relatively simple and unchanged from the previous installments. Inhale, spit, copy, and power your way through levels with cute enemy designs and memorable level themes. The environments are gorgeous, the cinematic scenes are comedic, and the musical score is as well crafted as ever. The only nitpicky critique I noticed was in the cinematics themselves. While some of them had sound design, some only contained the musical score of the area or cutscene. While Kirby games aren’t the most immersive, it was still strange to not hear the sounds of cages clanging or movement through the grass. 

Mouthful Mode is the biggest feature by far, allowing Kirby to hold various objects in his mouth and use them as tools to interact with the environment and solve puzzles. From engulfing a car and blasting through walls, or a lightbulb to light up dark areas and power mechanisms, Mouthful Mode is an adorable new addition to Kirby’s repertoire. He even keeps his copy ability hat when engulfing items.

My only major critique beyond my tiny obsessive sound problems is a lack of information. Kirby’s companion, a small furry blue creature named Elfilin, provides bits of slapstick dialogue and tips throughout the adventure. Unfortunately, at around halfway through the game, I have no idea who he is, where he came from, or what impact he may have on the story. While I don’t doubt he’ll have an impact as the game reaches its climax, it’s slightly disheartening to not have any interesting information with him, nor any interactions beyond his tutorial-style tips, his minor presence in cutscenes, and occasional story involvement. He has no character development and is a glorified blank slate. As much as he’s cute and cuddly looking, I wish I had something interesting about him after over half the game has been completed. Alongside this, there is also next to no information about the world Kirby is exploring, nor the main enemy, at least by the halfway point. While mystery is fun, clues on the main villain’s intentions or the reason for the completely abandoned seemingly human society would be fun to know too.

In all, “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” is well worth the buy for any incoming Kirby fan or a long-time enthusiast. The gameplay remains honest to its predecessors with flashy new mechanics to keep old-timers hooked, and newcomers entertained. The game is beautifully made, and the gameplay loop constantly feels rewarding, even if you aren’t attempting a 100% competition. I rate it nine Waddle Dees out of ten, perfect to represent that last sneaky challenge you just can’t quite find before you reach the level’s end.