Kirby and the Forgotten Land Hands-on Preview – A promising vacation

Posted on March 4, 2022

Kirby and the Forgotten Land, the next adventure from Nintendo’s iconic pink blob, is just a few weeks away. It’s an exciting time for fans: this is the first time the hero’s mainline entry is 3D. Featuring a foray on an island abandoned by civilisation, it’s hard not to be wrapped up in excitement from the premise alone. Getting some hands-on time with it myself ahead of launch, I’m even more right there with everyone. This looks to be one for the books.

Taking those first steps

My preview period for the game covers as much as Kirby and the Forgotten Lands’ first world, Natural Plains. Washing up ashore at a beach, Kirby takes their first steps into the weird and wonderful world. Making your way through some forestry before hitting a city with buildings overgrown by shrubbery, a sprawling cinematic shot is shown, and hence your journey begins. It’s here that I got a taste of wonder, and undoubtedly the first of many.

Upon completing this introductory level, I soon became more aware of the very mission that lay ahead of me. The Waddle Dees, those little orange blobs you’d suck up and destroy in previous entries, have largely fallen from a greater threat – the cute but ferocious dogs known as Garlfi. It’s up to you to travel beyond your hub world of Waddle Dee Town, completing each level and its accompanying objectives, rescuing as many of your friends as possible. This is how this hub gets rebuilt, though more on that later.

Toppling dastardly foes and exploring hidden corners

Let’s be blunt. Kirby games are undeniably charming if not a little too simple. Completing all of world one in this Kirby and the Forgotten Lands came with relative ease but also more secrets without. Levels are still very much relatively railroaded like the 2D counterparts but provide more creative solutions to finding these secrets and collectables. Once more, it’s a game of checklists. These ask players to find four hidden Waddle Dees in any given level, find hidden gacha toy collectables or complete feats such as eat x number of snacks or complete a boss encounter without taking a hit.

A lot of this requires the use of copy abilities both returning and new such as the Ranger, which equips a helmet and musket gun to shoot targets (less jarring a visual for Kirby than you’d think!). Using the recently revealed Mouthful Mode also reaps progression and fun exploration tidbits. Swallowing and taking the form of a vending machine provided soda can ammunition to take out groups of enemies while becoming a set of lockers resulted in the hilarity of toppling over, revealing a secret mural guide on the wall we once stood.

This just scratches the surface of the many different wacky exploration and combat shenanigans you’ll be getting yourself into. While it’s by no means Super Mario Odyssey depth in the sense of free range to go anywhere, this small tease could very well spell the fact that Kirby and the Forgotten Lands is the revitalisation the franchise needed. Provided the remainder follows suit, of course.

Rebuilding your world, finding joyous distractions and getting stronger

More than ever, Kirby and the Forgotten Land looks to be the entry with the biggest sense of identity yet. Not only are the vibes in each of the levels I’ve played through thus far cute, calming and immaculate, but the same can be said for the hub town. Waddle Dee Town soon grew in both its population, buildings and things to do. If players find themselves short of some of the gatcha collectibles known as ‘Gotcha,’ they can swing by the machine tucked away in a corner, spending those hard-earned coins to get those sweet prizes. Other glimpses of things to do in the town saw Kirby getting their very own cute little house. Here, our hero can take a nap in the bed with their teal chinchilla-Esque friend Elfilin or peruse through a book that details the past Switch, WiiU and 3DS games, with complimentary songs. This doesn’t add much in the way of deep things to do but it’s still a hell of a cute little touch.

“More than ever, Kirby and the Forgotten Land looks to be the entry with the biggest sense of identity yet.”

More palpable side activities are the Treasure Road stages you’ll find in the overworld. These are bite-sized levels with a time limit, asking players to use the provided copy ability to escape before the clock runs out. Skating and jumping quickly through Garlfi packs, bombing switches and more made up my time here. They’re not all that difficult though are well worth checking out. Completing a Road stage provides players with special stars, used for upgrading and evolving your copy abilities. So far, this is a nice and welcome way to complement the two. Turning the typical fire copy ability into a version more powerful and volcanic in appearance was joyous.

With little treasure hunts both in and out of levels in the form of hidden in-game codes to redeem at the Waddle Dee-livery post office for rewards, fishing sub-games and a café to hang out in, this is only the beginning. Kirby already offered plenty of collectathon goodness to keep me going in its opening moments. I can’t wait to see how that evolves further come full release.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land arrives on the Nintendo Switch on March 25. Whether you’re a long time fan or a newcomer, the game looks to provide the goods.