Capsule Review: Kirby and the Forgotten Land

A triumphant leap by the pink puff into full 3D.

The first fully-3D mainline Kirby title. After much experimentation and many false starts to overcome the challenges of this change, the team found an approach that works and ironed out nearly every snag. The result is a game that feels great to play and where most of the effort and tricks are invisible because the experience Just Works.

The game is beautiful, with colorful and compellingly-themed levels that look like real spaces. Everything is set against a surprisingly cozy postapocalyptic/reclaimed-by-nature setting and all the character designs and animations are cuddly-looking, even the enemies. The soundtrack is also great and fits very well.

Gameplay has you navigating levels while dealing with the enemies and some environmental obstacles and puzzles, exploring for a few different kinds of collectible, experimenting with a variety of copy abilities, and going after optional bonus mission objectives, with a few boss fights along the way. As you find collectibles, you also develop a hub area that has an arena, a handful of minigames, and other similar activities.

Copy abilities are handled fantastically. Most are recurring ones from previous games adapted to work in 3D, but a couple new ones are added too. They all feel distinct and decently balanced (though I suspect most players will have their favorites and unfavorites) and extra variety is added through an upgrade system that gives them new properties. On top of this is the new “Mouthful Mode” which allows for new situational abilities that are somewhere between copy abilities and vehicle sections - wrap your mouth around a car and you can drive around, suck in a vending machine and spit sodas at enemies and obstacles, and so on. They don’t all have the same level of depth but they all change up the gameplay in interesting ways, and the optional “treasure road” challenges that task the player with skilled use of each copy ability and mouthful mode nudge the player into advanced techniques they might not otherwise thought of.

The game is kid-friendly and adults will likely find it fairly easy on its default difficulty (though it also has an easy mode and a few other ways to make its harder challenges easier such as using an Amiibo to get health pickups). I was looking for cozy fun and found the low difficulty and high level of polish gave me a great and low-friction experience. I really enjoyed exploring the colorful world and playing with the copy abilities, which is exactly what I want in a Kirby game.

I Stopped Playing When: I fully completed the game including all optional objectives.

Docprof's Rating:

Five Stars: Favorite. This is one of my all-time favorite games that made a significant impact on me or that I've returned to time and again.

You can get it or learn more here.