Kirby is everyone’s comfort series in one way or another. Aside from boasting an adorable titular character, each game is simplistically appealing, welcoming to all ranges of crowds regardless of their gaming experience. So the announcement of a new Kirby entry arriving on the Switch that wasn’t Star Allies was thrilling, as the last game in the series I played extensively was Super Star Ultra. Kirby and the Forgotten Land made a favorable impression during its debut, and after playing the demo, my excitement for the full release has only grown.
The demo is rather short, only containing a few stages and a boss battle. However, they effectively communicate the title’s general gameloop, alongside what to expect from the level and enemy design. Players control Kirby across several 3D fields set in what seems to be an abandoned human civilization. Locales like a mall and desolate city reinforce a sense of foreignness to Kirby’s presence, which is a notable first for the franchise. This aesthetic aids in granting Forgotten Land a sturdier sense of identity, a welcome addition since many Kirby games can be sometimes be mentally jumbled together.
Regarding gameplay, it’s precisely what you’d expect from the pink blob, save for a few bells and whistles. Kirby can run and jump, with the latter allowing for temporary floating. Further, the breath he lets out acts as damage. The base moveset is almost comically simple, but copy power-ups provide variety. Classics such as the bomb and sword return, though the new Mouthful mechanic is where the bizarre stuff starts to happen. Kirby can suck up objects like cars or vending machines and just cause absolute havoc. The instances one uses these transformations are brief, but I’m glad they don’t seem to overstay their welcome.
When viewing the initial trailers for this title, it was easy to assume that this would lean toward a more open-world, esque design. Instead, however, the game is traditionally linear, with occasional side paths boasting secrets and collectibles. While this design choice may disappoint those seeking a more courageous iteration of Kirby, I found myself not really minding it. Between the increasing frequency of open-world settings in games, seeing Kirby stick to a tried and true formula with just enough new spice to keep progression fresh satisfies me.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is proving to be a prime example of what makes the Kirby series so addictive. The well-paced level design, player agency with power-ups, and sense of continual comfort are excellently depicted in 30-minutes. If the full game matches the level of quality that these stages and boss battle boast, then I’m fully strapped in.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is releasing for Nintendo Switch on March 25, 2022.
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