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Kirby And The Forgotten Land Preview – Kirby-ing My Enthusiasm

Get a mouthful of this

I’ve always been a massive fan of Kirby, Nintendo’s little pink pal with a penchant for pinching powers, so when Kirby and the Forgotten Land was revealed I was immediately in love. After some slightly disappointing side-scrolling features it’s clear that the time is right for Kirby to make the move to 3D and that’s exactly what this is. Thanks to Nintendo Australia I’ve been able to play the game for myself and, for the purposes of this preview, the game’s first ‘world’ in particular. Rather than attempt to summarise any feelings I have toward the game after only a small portion of the full thing I’ve decided to do my best to give my play-by-play impressions of everything from the tutorial level to the first big boss and between.

The game kicks off with a short, introductory CG sequence in which our soft, round hero finds himself sucked into a mysterious vortex along with most of the world around him and the Waddle Dees living in it. There’s not much context provided beyond that but more isn’t really necessary, Kirby wakes up on a beach in another world entirely and makes his way forward (gee, that sounds familiar in the land of 3D platformers doesn’t it?).

This opening section of Kirby and the Forgotten Land is an absolute corker, showing off the game’s shift into three dimensions with a gorgeous level set across a seemingly abandoned and overgrown city area. It’s brief but moves forward at a nice clip as it acclimates players to the classic Kirby gameplay in this newfound perspective. It’s also where we first find the new Mouthful Mode mechanic that allows Kirby to wrap his gob around very large objects to utilise their unique properties – in this case it’s the car ability that Nintendo showed off not too long ago to a fairly viral online reception.

In Car Mouth mode (or Carby as it’s known affectionately), Kirby then sets off down a long stretch of road as the game gives way to its title sequence featuring a lovely vocal theme song as he putters his way to new horizons. As an on-boarding experience this whole opening is just perfect and gives the impression that this is going to be a whole new kind of Kirby game.

After the game’s logo has rolled, Kirby makes his first new acquaintance in the Forgotten Land in Elfilin, a flying marsupial-like creature that he quickly befriends. He’ll need all the help he can get as well, because he soon discovers that the Waddle Dees are being kidnapped by a group called the Beast Pack and (naturally) makes it his mission to go and rescue them. It’s here that the game starts proper and what’s so far been a swiftly-paced series of events gives way to a more traditional Kirby game structure with self-contained levels nestled in a steadily-unlocked world map.

The first of these levels is Downtown Grassland, and it’s here I get my first taste of how Kirby and the Forgotten Land’s levels work. As it turns out, they’re much like those you’d find in Kirby’s side-scrolling adventures only in 3D – which is far from a bad thing! The first world continues the post-apocalyptic-ish theme of the game’s opening, so this level sees Kirby crossing more overgrown, ruined city environments and introduces a few of his recognisable copy abilities like Bomb and Cutter.

There are a couple of new Mouthful Modes here as well, like Cone Mouth that has Kirby take the form of a traffic cone and use it to perform devastating ground pounds that can pulverise enemies, break open weak ground and even split water pipes to create an uplifting geyser. One of my favourites so far though is Vending Mouth, which transforms Kirby into a literal vending machine, able to shoot drink cans at high velocity to break down obstacles as he waddles around awkwardly.

After fighting a mini-boss whose Sword ability I handily copy, doing a bit of optional exploring and then using Cone Mouth once more to take out some snapping turtles that use whole pieces of building as shells I finish this first level having rescued all of the hidden Waddle Dees and discovered the secret objectives that give me a perfect level rating and a total of nine Waddle Dees rescued so far. I also leave with a handful of Gatcha-style toy capsules containing collectible figurines that can be viewed in a special menu.

Downtown Grassland is a fun first foray into this new title, it looks beautiful and feels decently big but still very traditionally Kirby and separated into small standalone chunks much like the 2D games rather than the kind of free-flowing 3D space that the intro sequence might have implied.

The second level, Through the Tunnel, is an even more linear-feeling jaunt through a very industrial underground tunnel full of obstacles. It’s here we first get to use the Fire copy ability and along with it a neat mechanic where Kirby needs to light cannon fuses and then race the flame to the cannon itself so he can get in and be blasted to new areas.

In this level is our first taste of the hilariously silly Stairs Mouthful Mode in which Kirby becomes an actual walking staircase that can fall over on command to flatten enemies and obstacles. It’s a puzzle-solving device as well, as Kirby can exit out of Mouthful Mode to leave the original staircase wherever he needs in order to climb up somewhere. Here it’s used in combination with the cannons to create a situation where the player needs to light and race the fuse without accidentally leaving the staircase in the way of the flame.

This short, sharp level does a good job of gently introducing some light puzzle-solving elements but it also highlights the fact that one of my biggest gripes with the series hasn’t gone away – the fact that it’s very rarely possible to backtrack in levels. Once you’ve gone through a door, down a tunnel, even sometimes just unknowingly into a new area, you generally can’t go back even if you know you’ve missed something. In combination with the multitude of hidden collectibles and secret level objectives this is no doubt going to lead to a lot of unnecessary replaying of levels.

After beating Through the Tunnels and returning to the world map, I now have access to Treasure Roads, which are mini inter-dimensional challenge levels that give Kirby a specific ability and a gauntlet to complete in a certain time. Beating these levels gives him Rare Stones, which I don’t have a use for just yet. Some of these levels open up over time but others you’ll need to discover by floating around the world map and investigating hidden points which will either give you small coin boosts or whole new Treasure Road stages to attempt.

At this point I also decide to check out Waddle Dee Town, which is a kind of a hub area that the Waddle Dees have begun to construct from stuff dropped through the rift. There are numerous buildings here under construction, the first that becomes available is a cinema where Kirby can watch story sequences from the game. The rest of the buildings need at least 50 rescued Waddle Dees to rebuild and so it looks like I won’t be seeing those before the first world is done with. Bandana Waddle Dee is chilling here as well, as a reminder that they can join the fun in control of a second player for some co-op action, something I sadly haven’t been able to test out.

Moving on to the third level, Rocky Rollin’ Road, it’s another fairly standard stage themed on avoiding huge, rolling boulders. We get our first go at the Needle ability here as well as the Ranger. The latter fits neatly into the 3D space as it allows Kirby to freely aim charged shots at enemies or points of interest in the environment that can help him find hidden goodies. Also the dog enemies (affectionately named Bernard) that you get it from are cute as hell. Another short, sharp level but it caps off with a fun Car Mouth Kirby sequence that involves some exciting boulder dodging and driving across precarious cliff edges.

You’ll probably recognise the fourth level, A Trip To Alivel Mall, from the game’s marketing. An abandoned and overgrown mall, this is probably the most interesting level so far not just for the visual variety but for a lot more shifting in perspectives and some neat puzzles that involve another new Mouthful Mode – Storage Mouth. This one’s a little more passive and just has Kirby wrap around storage containers to pull them away from walls and reveal hidden secrets, but it’s still as ridiculously funny to witness as all the others.

There’s another mini-boss here, Wild Frosty, who grants me the Ice ability that has Kirby skating around adorably on his little icy toes, freezing enemies into blocks that can be pushed around and putting out small fires. This level was definitely the most fun out of everything in the game’s first world and I’m hopeful that the upward momentum continues into the rest of the game.

After beating the preceding levels in sequence and meeting the requirement of 17 rescued Waddle Dees (I have arrived with all 39 available so far) this world’s boss level, The Brawl at the Mall, opens up. The fight against Gorimondo is a pretty stock-standard platforming boss battle that has Kirby dodging telegraphed sets of attacks and then laying the smackdown either with whatever copy ability he has at the time or by sucking up and shooting the stars that fall out of Gorimondo after a big attack. On finishing off the boss with only three of the level objectives satisfied I immediately go back for round two to cross off the rest and thus ends the portion of the game that I can talk about for now.

So far, Kirby and the Forgotten Land feels surprisingly close to Kirby’s side-scrolling outings with its easy-going levels designed to appeal to players of all skill types with plenty of opportunities to mix and match various abilities. Mouthful Mode is definitely the star so far, as are the lush visuals which are a real treat for the series despite only running at 30fps. I’m a little disappointed the momentum of the excellent opening sequence falls aside in favour of a far more traditional platformer set up but I’m eager to continue playing and see what surprises the game has in store for me.

What will Kirby get his mouth around next? I can’t wait to find out.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is coming to Nintendo Switch March 25, 2022.

Previewed on Nintendo Switch // Preview code supplied by publisher

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Written By Kieron Verbrugge

Kieron's been gaming ever since he could first speak the words "Blast Processing" and hasn't lost his love for platformers and JRPGs since. A connoisseur of avant-garde indie experiences and underground cult classics, Kieron is a devout worshipper at the churches of Double Fine and Annapurna Interactive, to drop just a couple of names.




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