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‘Kirby And The Forgotten Land’ Preview: Sumptuous Sun-Kissed Goodness For Nintendo Switch

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‘Kirby And The Forgotten Land’ Preview: Sumptuous Sun-Kissed Goodness For Nintendo Switch

As I take down the gigantic angry ape (no, not that one) who’s blocking my progress from the first world of Kirby and the Forgotten Land into the next, I feel a strange sensation spread across my ever-wrinkling facade. An odd tensing, a tightening, something I don’t often feel as a cynical, seen-it-all games media professional (allegedly). A smile. And it’s a massive one. I’m usually so wary of showing my teeth as they’re as wonky as dentures get, but I can’t help but be cheered by my own gleeful face reflected in my Switch’s screen, not-so-pearly whites and all. This is what the new Kirby game does to a bitter old man: it makes them briefly happy again, one brightly coloured level full of secrets and treasures at a time.

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If the imagery of Kirby and the Forgotten Land doesn’t instantly lift your spirits - this is a truly sun-kissed game of bold colours and sparkling scenery (even when so much of it is, well, kinda wrecked) - the gameplay will. The Kirby series has rarely been overly fussy, with controls kept simple and demands modest - and Forgotten Land, even when tackled on its ‘Wild Mode’ difficulty, said to be “more challenging” and even “tough at times” compared to ‘Spring-Breeze Mode’ - won’t have many players breaking out in a sweat over its stages. This is a game to have a great time with, not git gud at.

Watch some, ahem, Mouthful Mode gameplay in the video below…

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This being first and foremost a platformer, you can jump all over the place - and float too, of course, for a limited time - and Kirby’s ability to suck in an enemy and adopt their powers is the primary mechanic for progression. You need some fire? Swallow that flaming baddie over there. Wanna get spiky and roll around impaling stuff? There’s a weird hedgehog thing that you might want to check out. A sword… I guess you can stick that down your throat, but go careful, Kirbs… these Waddle Dees are kinda relying on you here.

Which moves me nicely onto the story, and… Well, I can only really give you the basics, since this is a preview after all. These creatures called Waddle Dees have been captured by some mean ol’ furry types, the Beast Pack, and Kirby has to rescue them. As he does, the game’s hub area of Waddle Dee Town expands - new shops and facilities open, including a weapons shop (for selecting and upgrading acquired abilities) and a cinema for replaying cutscenes, and the grateful little tykes will even build Kirby a house where he can snooze and display whatever little gacha-capsule toys he’s picked up either in levels or by pumping coins into a machine in the town. 

Kirby and the Forgotten Land / Credit: Nintendo
Kirby and the Forgotten Land / Credit: Nintendo
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Beyond Waddle Dee Town lies the overworld map, to which Kirby travels on a flying star. World one is Natural Plains, an area of relative ruin shown off in preview footage: there’s some downtown streets, an under-construction concrete tunnel area, and a sprawling mall you can sort of get lost in, the exit from which is guarded by the aforementioned simian with an attitude problem. And it’s here where Kirby’s Mouthful Mode takes centre stage - as well as gaining abilities from enemies, our little pink ball of fun can inhale… a car. And a road cone. And a vending machine. And some stairs. And much more besides. It’s… It’s a choice that developers HAL Laboratory have made, for sure, but the first time you transform Kirby into a weirdly fleshy four-wheeled weapon, you will spit your tea out with happiness. And the vending machine? Probably my favourite Mouthful Mode in the game’s first few stages, as Kirby fires out cans of drink to destroy both enemies and parts of the environment, some of which are explosive and open up previously hidden areas.

 Kirby and the Forgotten Land / Credit: Nintendo
Kirby and the Forgotten Land / Credit: Nintendo

There’s an array of challenges within each level. The most basic goal is to get to the end, where a cage full of Waddle Dees awaits - but there are also hidden Waddle Dees to free, and you can rescue even more by fulfilling certain requirements which are secret when you begin a stage but revealed to you once you’ve completed it, so that you can replay it with these specific goals in mind. It’s a nice way to go around the same stage two or three times - none of them outstay their welcome, as they’re all wonderfully designed little playgrounds. Elsewhere on the world map are Treasure Roads, bonus stages where you can earn special stars for upgrading Kirby’s abilities - and these aren’t all unlocked by default, you’ll have to seek them out. Each of these has a completion time to aim for, so again welcome replays.

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Kirby and the Forgotten Land is shaping up to be an absolute treat, a vibrant and welcoming distraction from the real world’s many problems. It might be the first-ever mainline Kirby game to be 3D, but it feels as natural in hand as any modern Mario title, and is probably the best game of its ilk since the phenomenal Super Mario Odyssey to arrive on Nintendo Switch. It’s certainly showing the same signs of being wonderfully imaginative and full of just-one-more-go appeal. I’ll know for sure when I have played more, but so far as first impressions go, well: my face says it all, really.   

Code for this preview provided by Nintendo. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is released for Nintendo Switch on March 25 2022.


Featured Image Credit: Nintendo

Topics: Nintendo, Preview, Nintendo Switch

Mike Diver
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