Nintendo Switch Review: Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Is this new Kirby game a Mouthful?

Join Kirby in an unforgettable journey through a mysterious world in a 3D platforming adventure. Float off on an all-new adventure as the powerful puffball, Kirby. Explore in 3D stages as you discover a mysterious world with abandoned structures from a past civilization—like a shopping mall?! Copy enemies’ abilities like the new Drill and Ranger and use them to attack, explore your surroundings, and save the kidnapped Waddle Dees from the ferocious Beast Pack alongside the mysterious Elfilin. Hope you’re hungry for an unforgettable adventure!

This is a Kirby game with a difference. It’s more of a traditional platformer like Mario but with Kirby’s Copy Abilities that allow Kirby to gain abilities like using swords, bombs, fire, ice and so on…but the true evolution of that is the new Mouthful mode which lets Kirby become everyday objects like cars, traffic cones, vending machines and even a set of stairs to name a few. It’s perhaps the craziest thing to see Kirby almost eating a whole car then transforming into one and it never, never stops being funny to see.

The game is built up of traditional levels where you try and rescue as many Waddle Dees as possible, while some are hidden and you “rescue” some for completing side missions like defeating a boss with a certain ability or making some flowers bloom and everything in-between. You’ll need to rescue them to knock down the doors leading to the boss at the end of each world, plus the more you collect the more buildings get rebuilt in Waddle Dee Town…

These vary from buildings that let you upgrade your Copy Abilities with the right materials and blueprints to even a restaurant that you can even work in as a mini-game. Additional challenge levels pop up that will gather you Rare Gems to use on upgrades and these last anywhere between 1-3 minutes each but can only be done solo.

Co-op play doesn’t immediately unlock until you rescue Elfilin, and then you unlock Banana Waddle Dee as Player 2, but they don’t have any of the abilities that Kirby does and is essentially more of a hack-n-slash fighter who can also throw spears. Banana Waddle Dee can join Kirby aboard some of their Mouthful Mode transformations like the car as a passenger, but ultimately can’t do a lot other than throw spears at whatever direction Kirby is pointed at.

It would have been nice to have Player 2 be able to at least be able to use Kirby’s Copy Abilities to mix things up for the player, as it just looks like Player 1 gets all the fun with Kirby getting that and the Mouthful Mode, but I can see how that might not have worked logistically. Still, I guess co-op players could take turns if they wanted to.

The boss fights aren’t particularly difficult, nor is the game itself, but it is good fun overall. It’s simple and relaxing, but also rewarding to see the town rebuilt after saving a number of Waddle Dees. The level designs are clever though and tracking down all the hidden Waddle Dees and completing the side-missions will take some time overall.

The visuals are a high point for the Switch, proving that there’s still plenty of life left in the hardware yet. The levels are nicely detailed, Kirby and all the other characters are animated like a Pixar film and the framerate never dropped. Load times were also impressively short, and the soundtrack is charming, plus the intro song is just crazy and random in a typical Japanese way that made me laugh for way too long.

The Verdict

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a huge leap in quality for the series, pushing it in line with the likes of Mario as a real contender on the platforming scene. I really hope the series stays like this now and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the pink puffball…

Score: 9.0