For as long as I could remember, I've always wanted to play a 3D Kirby game (Kirby Battle Royale doesn't count). I enjoy Kirby's 2D adventures, don't get me wrong, but the series had grown stale since (and arguably before) Kirby: Planet Robobot and I kept imagining what it would be like to control Kirby in a 3D space. In 2022, that wait has come to an end with Kirby and the Forgotten Land when a strange vortex sucks Kirby into an alternate dimension and he sets on a brand new adventure to save the Waddle Dees.
Controlling Kirby in a 3D world is everything I imagined it would be. The game's fixed camera and linear progression may not be exactly what we all wanted but it does work well for the Kirby formula. Much like Super Mario 3D World, Kirby and the Forgotten Land feels like a 2D game reimagined as a 3D adventure, taken what has worked for the series after 30 years and expertly translating it into an experience that feels natural (despite perhaps a little safe).
The Mouthful abilities are so wonderfully fresh and inventive, even more so than how new Kirby: Planet Robobot felt. Each ability you come across feels exciting and unique, making Kirby almost indestructible as he drives around as a car (Carby) or shoots out cans as a waddling vending machine. The idea adds so much charm, personality and gameplay variety that it feels as equally unique as using Cappy for the first time in Super Mario Odyssey.
One thing I was worried about was how HAL were planning to use all of the extra space that's made available within a 3D platformer. Safe to say that my worries were unfounded as each level features a variety of side missions that can be completed if you're willing to go off the beaten (and sometimes hidden) path. They're generally simple, with examples like save three hidden Waddle Dees or make 5 tulips bloom, but this addition provides so much more depth and exploration that finding each one is a reward in and of itself... oh, and it's great for all you completionists out there!
In addition to level missions, there are a handful of bite-sized challenges to unlock in the overworld referred to as Treasure Roads. These challenges are focused around the use of specific abilities and can range from 30 seconds to three minutes (depending on how good you are). Upon completing them, you'll be rewarded with a Rare Stone which can be used in Waddle Dee Town to upgrade your copy abilities into exciting new ones.
Speaking of Waddle Dee Town, this is a nice hubworld area which allows you to kick back with a few mini-games, upgrade your abilities, look through your figurines, buy healing items and fight in the Coloseum (the last of which allows you to take on Meta Knight). It's a cozy area that allows you take a breather in-between levels and you can bet I spent a good hour or so playing the Tilt n Tumble-inspired mini-game - why haven't we received that sequel yet?
For boss fights and key moments, there are some wonderful uses of the camera, with shots feeling dynamic and impactful. Nintendo's use of camera positioning recently has been such a huge improvement since the previous generation and its use in Kirby and the Forgotten Land is just one major example.
- Kirby feels right at home in 3D
- Mouthful abilities bring new life to the formula
- Side missions encourage exploration
- Treasure Roads
- Cozy hubworld in Waddle Dee Town
- Dynamic camera use
I was surprised when I had begun to control Kirby and noticed occassional frame rate dips. Every trailer looked so wonderfully smooth and polished, so when I got into the thick of combat and felt the game stutter, I couldn't hide my disappointment. HAL also use the models in the background dropping to five frames per second trick in order to save on memory and optimisation. In addition, there are some models that aren't as polished as you'd expect from a Nintendo published title. All of this is never detrimental to the overall experience but for Kirby's first big 3D outing, I suppose I just wanted everything to be perfect.
- Occasional frame rate stuttering
Final Score: 9/10
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is fantastic! It's not particularly difficult but it does pose challenges for anyone who wants to actively look for it (which is what you'll find in a lot of Nintendo platformers). The Super Mario 3D World style which brings a known 2D series into 3D and it was certainly a great way for HAL to dip their toe into the third dimensional waters. And yet, I do still hope for a 3D sandbox Kirby game one day, but I'll take what I can get today.
Thank you for checking out our Kirby and the Forgotten Land Switch review, thank you to Nintendo AU/NZ for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: