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Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Nintendo Switch
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo Classification: G
Release Date:
25th March 2022
Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review
Review By @ 11:05pm 23/03/22
SWITCH


When the characters you’re rescuing in a world beset by disaster are called Waddle Dees, it’s hard to take the catastrophe, or ‘apocalypse’, raging the land and its many… Waddle Dees seriously.

Waddle Dees.

Much has been said of the “post-apocalyptic-like” setting Kirby’s newest adventure, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, presented in the game’s reveal trailer (and subsequent shared media). Rusted cars, urban ruins in decay, overgrown and seemingly lost to nature. Abandoned spaces once populated with a clearly prosperous species of… someone.

On paper, you could be forgiven for thinking I’m describing Horizon Zero Dawn, or any other number of post-apocalypse-set games. But I’m not, this is Kirby’s most recent Nintendo Switch outing, and elevates the pink puffball into a near 3D playspace, albeit with a pretty stiff camera, half-locked and therefore funneling, as far as progression goes. It’s a simple game that is in many ways both old-school and traditional in its setup; you have level screens that show objectives for each ‘stage’ as you set about conquering them from a loosely-presented hub. Freeing up the enslaved Waddle Dees as you do, and reclaiming the Forgotten Land’s lost life through rebuilding Waddle Dee Town, then, becomes your overarching goal.



They’ve been captured you see... oh, yeah, and you’re a stranger here because you fell into a strange vortex and found yourself in a completely foreign land, so you ate a car. Or at least, kind of shoved a car in your mouth and drove it a bit, learning along the way the plight of the cuties you’ve now realised you need to free. Why the Waddle Dees have been locked up at all, and by who, of course, is the game’s flimsy mystery but you’re not here to understand anything about this world. And story isn’t Kirby’s strongest suite in his long history and we’re okay with that -- all you need to know is cute little *things* have been locked up and you have to free them from various unique stages.


"Forgotten Land rewards players who know to look under every rock and behind each structure, and you get a pretty good grasp on level design fairly early on...”



And on that, each stage is essentially a creative toybox to flex Kirby’s Copy Abilities, err… ability, and each has been designed in such a way that hidden secrets lay everywhere. Forgotten Land rewards players who know to look under every rock and behind each structure, and you get a pretty good grasp on level design fairly early on as it funnels you via the aforementioned half-locked camera (half because you can manipulate it a bit, but it’s not free). When I mentioned “traditional” above, it’s in the delivery of elements such as hidden sections of the world and in how stages are structured around that. Hidden treasures and areas are just that: hidden, but they’re part of the game structure itself, so you’re not breaking the mold, so to speak. You’re just exercising as much out of the game’s design intent as you see fit.



But navigation of these stages isn’t rocket science, and it doesn’t take much to breeze through them. There are visual cues everywhere on what to do to progress, and if a Copy Ability is needed, usually the Copy carrier is there to nab it off. Once you build out Waddle Dee Town a bit more you’ll be able to evolve Copy Abilities and this is tied to collection of coins, which is a peripheral system (just walk, and ye shall collect) and Rare Stones which you earn by completing Treasure Road stages, which are kind of bonus-slash-challenge options to throw your hat (heh) at. But these feel like they'd be more at home in a Mario Party outing than as a fleshed out addition to a full adventure game.


"And abilities range from being a nose-cone-diving witch’s hat capable of smashing through cracked concrete, to spitting literal hot fire as if you were a figurative dope MC...”



As far as how it plays; Kirby can jump and float, he sucks in items to use as projectiles and when he wears specific character hats, gained by sucking up special enemies, that’s when he takes on the Copy Ability of that foe. And abilities range from being a nose-cone-diving witch’s hat capable of smashing through cracked concrete, to spitting hot fire as if you were a dope MC. And while these abilities can obviously be used against enemies, they can also be used with the environment, such as lighting lanterns strewn about the place, freezing flaming logs and so on. There’s some cool ideas around all of this, and it’s easily the most thoughtful part of the game, but it’s not deep and you’re never, ever in a position where you’re stumped, or bottle-necked. It’s just so very easy.



Which is about the last component of the game I can constructively relay. It’s too easy. And it’s not like dialling up the AI or bolstering their numbers would help, it’s just been designed as an ultra-accessible game. And that’s fine. But for mine it’s detrimental to some of the clever ideas that do rear their head throughout, though these are more often flash-in-the-pan in terms of cadence and delivery, so it could be me experiencing starved-of-crackers Eddie Murphy syndrome, so there’s also that to contend with…

At any rate, what’s here is fun and it’s Nintendo and there’s co-op for families or friends, but it’s all just so incredibly lite-on. And I say this with full appreciation and love of the likes of Super Mario Odyssey and Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Yoshi’s Crafted World -- there’s no challenge outside of 100% collection of items and in beating Treasure Road times, the rest is simply a cakewalk, and unfortunately all the bad doggo Awoofys in the game can’t make me think otherwise.


Setup: This review was written from a supplied copy of the the game on Nintendo Switch (LED), utilising a Samsung 75" 8K QN900 Neo panel and a Samsung HW Q800T 3.1 Soundbar as the key review experience setup.
What we liked
  • Kirby is always a fun character to control
  • Some clever ideas amidst some of the game's stages
  • A fair bit of replayability for completionists
  • Local co-operative play
What we didn't like
  • Simply too easy
  • A visual step back from other Nintendo Switch titles
  • Maybe too old-school in its structure
  • The game's soundtrack can very quickly become grating
More
We gave it:
6.5
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
Scarlet
Posted 07:33am 24/3/22
I made an account just to ask - did you actually play and finish the game before writing this? 6.5 is absurdly low for this title and what you didn't like makes little sense. I got an early copy.
The game looks fine, I don't know what you're comparing it to - Switch titles in general don't look amazing.
The game's a Kirby game, they're not known for difficulty. That comes in at things like the True Arena where you're faced against harder versions of bosses with limited health.
The soundtrack is great, almost every track is unique per level and they're very, VERY far from grating.

Also, 100% completion is kind of part of the game. You're meant to play a game you paid for.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 12:48pm 24/3/22
Hey Scarlet, appreciate you signing up to jump in and ask the question. Discourse is good.

I do compare it to games, I mention the likes of Super Mario Odyssey, Luigi's Mansion 3 and Yoshi's Crafted World as benchmarks for Switch games of a similar ilk. They're obviously not like-for-like, but as Nintendo properties that lean on a design ethos, they're apt.

Kirby is fun. I say that in the review. But it's too easy. Like, alarmingly simple, to the point the concept of challenge is overshadowed by just going through the motions. I've always enjoyed Nintendo games when they're challenging, but Forgotten Land simply isn't, and it lets everything the game offers down because of this.

There are great ideas and concepts here that fall by the wayside because they're not expanded upon or aren't imbued with a greater sense of challenge.

I'll give you an example:

When you get a Copy Ability like Fire (early on) you can still use it to take down Fire enemies. A better setup would have been to have them invulnerable forcing the player to choose how to deal with them. The Copy Abilities are only in play to ostensibly push through level-specific impediments. There's no sense of risk-reward and no skill involved in combat with Copy Abilities.

The game is too easy.

It's also not as pretty as any of the aforementioned games, another reason I featured them in the review. Luigi's Mansion 3 and Yoshi, in particular, pushed the system to its apparent limits. Kirby is a later release and doesn't come close to them in terms of visuals.

It's a fun and enjoyable game with a lot to collect and plenty to do, but it's essentially just a treasure hunt and not really a challenging experience across other factors like combat (especially in boss battles).

And for the record, I played through the whole game. And as far as the soundtrack goes, that clearly comes down to preference -- for me, I found it as described.

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