Kirby is one of the Nintendo characters that has never quite stuck with me. Sure, I like the character itself, but I’ve rarely clicked with the games. Kirby 64 being the big exception. As a child, I loved going through those levels and exploring what new combinations of powers I could make along the way. I have distinct memories of my grandad coming to pick me up from my parents house for the weekend only for me to insist he wait while I finished these few Kirby levels. It’s funny then, that I never really found another game in the series that worked for me. Honestly, maybe I just didn’t really look that hard.
I tried the Star Allies demo when it was released back in the early days of the Switch, and while I found it to be a bit of fun, I wasn’t pushed to actio, and I never bought the game. And so I continued my Kirbyless life. Then Nintendo released the trailer for Kirby and the Forgotten Land, which seemed, for want of a better explanation, to be Kirby meets Super Mario Odyssey. My interest was piqued. If you’ve read the blog before, you might know that Odyssey is one of my favourite games on Switch, heck, all time. So to see that style of gameplay getting a revisit? Count me in.
I downloaded the demo for Forgotten Land and quickly realised it wasn’t quite the Odyssey spiritual sequel I’d been somewhat hoping for. The levels are much more linear than those sandboxes in Mario’s title, funnelling you through them towards an end goal. That’s not to say that the game feels restricted however. There’s freedom to explore a little in each section, with secrets dotted throughout via interactable scenery and tougher enemies. If anything, the levels of Forgotten Land feel more akin to Galaxy than Odyssey in their structure.
The gameplay itself was fun, and I enjoyed getting to see a slightly more expansive game for Kirby to star in. The visuals are very polished – this definitely feels like the pink ball’s big budget debut – with gorgeous fur on the enemies and bright, bold colours dominating the screen. This is a game that would undoubtedly sing on the Switch OLED. The powers feel like classic Kirby, and the new ability to ‘merge’ with objects gives rise to some interesting new play mechanics. There will be the ability to upgrade powers in the main game – something I had a quick play around with in the demo. I tried using the powered up sword, but apart from some cosmetic changes, I didn’t notice many other differences. It’s possible other powers will vary more, but the jury’s out for now.
Then, the million dollar question – will I buy Forgotten Land? I’ve got to say, it’s certainly tempting. I enjoyed the experience a lot, and I’m feeling a like burnt out on massive gaming worlds, so something more bitesize like this might be a nice palette cleanser. I’m still not fully convinced, but I feel closer to picking up a Kirby game than I have in a long time.