Imagine yourself in a relaxing yoga studio. You’ve unrolled your mat and class begins. The teacher tells you to take deep breaths in and out, and in and out. You open your mouth to let in as much air as possible, but suddenly you can’t stop! The inhalation vortex you have created in your mouth becomes more and more powerful. Suddenly, yoga mats, blocks, and even yogis themselves are careening into the endless void that is your stomach! The screams are horrifying! With all your might you clamp your mouth shut. Desperate to undo the damage, you spit as hard as you can. However, only a large yellow star shoots into the space, hurtling forwards and cracking the yoga studio’s mirror. Just what have you become?
The answer to that is Kirby! Nintendo’s beloved pink stretchy balloon-esque hero is back on the Switch in Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Get ready to inhale, blow, copy, and get a mouthful. Just try to stay away from the local yoga studio.
Like many other Nintendo IPs, Kirby’s humble beginnings start in the world of 2D side-scrolling adventures. Since his first appearance on the Game Boy in 1992, Kirby has been busy: racing, smashing, dreaming, even becoming yarn or a pinball! Forgotten Land meanwhile, takes players on a 3D platforming adventure with our little pink hero.
Our story begins on the peaceful Planet Popstar, though all too quickly disaster strikes! A dark vortex opens up and a horrible hurricane sucks up Kirby and all of the Waddle Dees. If that weren’t bad enough, in this new world the ferocious Beast Pack is kidnapping those Waddle Dees! After waking up on an unfamiliar beach, Kirby meets Elfilin and agrees to help him save the captured Waddle Dees.
Starting in the newly destroyed Waddle Dee Town, Kirby and Elfilin hop on the big yellow star and zip into action.
Just where is this forgotten land? The answer to that lies in the beautiful and subtle level design. Crumbling highways, overgrown malls, dilapidated buildings, and rusted infrastructure: this is the backdrop of Kirby’s first steps into this new world. Just what happened here, and why does everything look eerily similar to our very own Earth? And what is responsible for the vortex that brought the denizens of Planet Popstar here? The setting of Forgotten Land gives the game a sense of exquisite mystery.
There are seven different worlds to play through. Each world has a different theme: snow, volcano, desert, etc. There are about five different levels within every stage; as well, there are several time-trial areas that unlock as you progress, or otherwise must be searched out via the player on the overworld itself.
Every level has a set of objectives that must be completed to save every Waddle Dee. Some of these tasks are consistent (beating the level), while other objectives are stage-specific (such as defeating the area boss with a copy ability). This means that you will most likely be replaying each level multiple times in order to fully complete it.
The game is very forgiving in that if you fail to discover all of the hidden tasks one will be revealed to you when you beat the stage. This is about the most difficult Forgotten Land gets. While the levels are beautiful, full of plenty of little secret side paths to discover, discovering them is never a big challenge. Platforming is a breeze with Kirby, especially because if you ever do fall off the edge you can just press A and become a little balloon and float yourself back to safety.
Sadly, the pause menu does not include a Retry option. This means that, should “take no damage” be one of your hidden options, rather than being able to quickly restart a stage you have to fully exit out to the overworld and then re-enter every time you want to retry.
The game has two difficulty settings: Wild Mode and Spring Breeze Mode. In Wild Mode, you’ll have less health, but you’ll be rewarded with more star coins (one of the game’s currencies). Spring Breeze Mode gives Kirby a lot more health to work with, but subsequently, you receive fewer coins. Wild Mode is almost ridiculously easy, and I personally feel that an even harder mode could have been included. Spring Breeze Mode is obviously for the little ones, and anyone with tiny humans should definitely add Forgotten Land to their collection.
That isn’t to say there’s no challenge to be had for veteran gamers who are also Kirby lovers. Each world has several extra levels where Kirby must use a specific copy or mouthful ability to complete a stage in a certain amount of time. Completing these stages is essential, as you will be rewarded with a Rare Stone when you do. This is a special currency used in the game to evolve Kirby’s copy abilities, so it is definitely in your interest to clear these. Each level has a recommended time, and if you complete it in under that time you’ll also be rewarded with 50 star coins.
If you love speedrunning, this recommended time limit is sure to challenge and entice you. However, I felt that 50 star coins were not a good enough reward to get me to complete these levels more than once. Especially because, if you play the game in Wild Mode, you’ll easily be drowning in star coins before World 3.
What would Kirby be without swallowing his enemies and copying their abilities? Jigglypuff? Thankfully, copy abilities are back, and they’re being upgraded. Only twelve of Kirby’s copy abilities have made it into Forgotten Land, and while they are some of his most iconic (fire, ice, bomb, and sword among them), some fans might lament that their favourite is tragically absent (UFO anyone?). Any lamenting will be short-lived once you find a few blueprints and evolve some of your copy abilities. Most abilities have three different variations, and a couple can go up to level four! Not only do these evolutions increase the damage the ability does, but it also changes and/or adds effects. As well, the adorable little hat that Kirby wears is different for each upgrade as well.
The fact that only twelve copy abilities made the cut for Forgotten Land can be forgiven by the addition of Mouthful Mode. Certain objects within each level, once approached, will flash and indicate that Kirby should press and hold B to suck them up. Kirby really shows the extent to which he can stretch by fitting around things like cars, light bulbs, and even a rollercoaster! Each of these Mouthful Mode powers adds a special gameplay element to the level, and really ups the fun factor. As well, Kirby looks absolutely adorable with his body wrapped around a giant lightbulb, and when you rescue a Waddle Dee and give them a little smile and wave… those moments are so cute your heart may just explode.
While Kirby is the star of the one-player game, there’s another hero to watch out for in Forgotten Land: Bandana Waddle Dee. Grab a friend for some local co-op, and enlist the help of the strongest Dee this side of Dream Land. Armed with his trusty spear, Bandana Waddle Dee has several spear-related attacks up his sleeve. He can hover by twirling it around his head, he can rain down spears from above, or hold down B to aim and toss spears with precision. Of course, Bandana Waddle Dee, as player two, takes a bit of a back seat in that the camera is always focused on the person playing Kirby. This means that if BWD gets too far away he’ll be forcibly teleported back to Kirby.
But if you’re looking for a fun time with your partner or younger sibling, BWD can bring a bit of simplicity and a lot of attack power to your experience.
As you progress and save Waddle Dees, they will rebuild Waddle Dee Town. Therefore, Kirby should return frequently to see what kinds of new fun things will pop up. There are several fun mini-games such as fishing or tilt-boards. Mastering these games will usually reward you with star coins, and perhaps even special collectible gatcha figurines! Waddle Dee Town has a lot to offer; buy food to heal up or take with you to use in an emergency. Visit the theatre to re-watch any cutscenes, or hit up the Colosseum to take on bosses again. There’s always something to do.
The soundtrack for Forgotten Land is top-notch. From peaceful melodies as you explore the vast world, to intense battle music while fighting fearsome bosses, your ears will never get tired of these tunes.
All in all, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a worthy addition to any Switch library. The stunning level design, stellar music, and upgraded copy abilities provide plenty of fun. If you’re looking for a challenging platformer, perhaps look elsewhere, but if you want something light and fluffy this is the game for you!
Kirby and the Forgotten Land £49.99
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a colourful, magical, platforming-adventure delight with a cute factor that is out of this world! The game isn’t very difficult, but the upgraded copy abilities, mouthful mode, and fantastic level design make it a worthy addition to any Switch collection.