Kirby and the Forgotten Land – Game Review

In my eyes, Kirby games have always been defined by their stunning visual and musical art direction which is held back somewhat by simple yet usable side-scrolling platformer gameplay. forgotten land represented, more than anything else, an opportunity for HAL laboratory to break out of this mold the series seems to be stuck in. And don’t get me wrong: I’ve always loved Kirby Games. I’m obsessed with every piece of hidden knowledge I can figure out and replay Kirby’s Adventure on my DS almost once a year. But my love for the series doesn’t mean I haven’t recognized how stagnant these games have been over the past few years. I don’t blame HAL for that either; trying to deliver new side-scrolling platforming adventures once every few years while your main character is held back by the same rather limited movement options is a very big ask. And yet, despite the obstacles, they seem to have managed to find new ways to innovate in Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

There’s a lot to be said for this game – and I’m happy to say most of it is good. So I’ll start with the few reviews I have. Sinning on the side of sounding fussy, some of the stories beat (especially those related to mind control) in forgotten land could have been clearer. Additionally, games that emphasize finding secret areas and completing hidden objectives like this would gain replay value by allowing players to cycle back and forth between sections of individual levels after finished for the first time. I can’t tell you how many times I unknowingly went to a different area of ​​a level while searching for a secret only to realize my access had been blocked, with no choice but to quit and restart the level to return where I was so I could continue the search. More importantly, I would like to see developers be less afraid to implement a steeper difficulty curve in the future. What we have right now is a game that builds very slowly, flat lines in the middle, spikes at the end, and saves all of its real challenges for the post-game. It would have been great to have some of that post-game difficulty dispersed into the second half of the main plot, and then have the post-game constantly bring the pain.

As I said before, Kirby games have always excelled in terms of visual and musical quality. forgotten land is no exception – in fact, I’d say HAL Labs even outdid themselves here. Previous entries in the series might feel a little too sweet and sickly, like seeing a child’s wildest dreams projected onto a screen. I’ve never challenged this style, but I can immediately see why it’s not for everyone. forgotten land is a great departure from that norm, pitting the unfettered cuteness of Kirby’s characters and enemies against the highly realistic setting of a post-apocalyptic world. It was an absolutely brilliant decision that led to so many interesting settings and level designs. When it comes to music, I’ve always been a strong proponent of the view that the chiptune era of Kirby music is far superior to anything that came later. That being said, forgotten land gave us the best-orchestrated soundtrack the series has produced so far. This game seamlessly slips into so many different musical styles and moods that I can say with certainty that there is definitely something here for everyone. Even this style of chiptune that I love so much stands at the climax of the game.

The coronation of forgotten land, however, must be how it interpreted and enhanced the gameplay of its predecessors. Abilities are no longer just a variety of means to the same end of button spamming – each is now associated with a distinct playstyle. There are abilities like the Tornado and the Needle where you’ll prioritize picking up items and enemies and trying to throw them at the biggest target you can see. I particularly liked the tidy up ability, which allows you to shoot enemies from afar and time your dodges to access a rapid fire option. Sword and Hammer is pretty simple – get in, stay in, and don’t get hit. Along with all the new life that’s been injected into these abilities, there’s the ability to upgrade and mod them as the game progresses, which is another great addition that should become fare. standard for future Kirby series. Even the platform has been improved – the animations around Kirby’s jumping and falling have never looked better, and his hover has been effectively nerfed, only allowing the pink puff to rise to a certain height on the surface it sits above, encouraging players to jump through obstacles instead of hovering through entire levels. The boss fights in this game have been extremely well designed. Kirby’s newfound ability to dodge and counter is key to these challenges, and each one has fantastic presentation and style. The new bite-sized modes serve to completely change the gameplay, adding hang-gliding, racing, and sailing segments to the game, with the addition of some interesting puzzles via the staircase and water mode.

All in all, HAL Labs has finally breathed new life into the Kirby series. forgotten land has seen Kirby at its best for years and may well become one of the best Kirby games of all time.