Kirby and the Forgotten Land just won best “my first 3D platformer”. So simple and powerful at the same time that I dare to give my opinion on how much fun I’ve had with Nintendo’s most adorable character over the past few weeks. Go ahead, Kirby isn’t just a game for kids. It would take longer if Masahiro Sakurai gearing up to celebrate its offspring’s 30th birthday in just a few days, delighting gamers of all ages within and outside of its original genre for decades.
What happens is that while the old exponents of games about hitting jumps and collecting things in 3D are becoming more and more clumsy for new players due to their archaic controls and camera, the titles aimed at the most childish audience increasingly neglect quality . Disregard for the smallest of the house (when there are millions of potential customers). So that you understand me, it’s a pleasure to find a game like this, taken from the recent adaptations of Paw Patrol, Pocoyo or Peppa Pig. A full-fledged game, colorful and sweet if you will (less than usual, by the way, since it’s closer to the cartoon style), but that doesn’t neglect its content, its systems or its design.
This quality is noticeable from the first minute. Kirby’s controls immediately become natural, intuitive, and snappy. He’s a delight to move across the stage, whether running, jumping and blowing up, or devouring one of the enemies to duplicate their powers. And this copy skills, the hallmark of the character and his entire series, reaches new heights of fun with this installment. Its impact against competitors or on the stage itself literally takes on another dimension, since the level design is entirely based around proposing different uses at each step.
This does not mean that solutions to challenges are always the last skill acquired. For example, I can eat a “Fire” or “Knife” enemy and keep that ability until the end of the phase, even if I get enemies with “Hammer”, “Sword” or “Bomb” along the way. What it encourages is that the player takes care to hunt down the most appropriate power for each situation, even if it takes a while, and sometimes the only one who can solve a puzzle.
A great system that makes all this even more interesting and spectacular is this improve skills. Armorer Waddle Dee is waiting in his workshop for you to bring him blueprints and resources (basically rarity stones and coins) to upgrade his skills, up to three times in most cases. So the “drill” skill (a basic work skill) becomes “pencil drill” (giant pencil sharpener style) and then “twin drill” (double percussion), and the good thing is that they’re not limited to mere visual retouching that, by the way, they all look fantastic, but serve to face the challenges of the future in a different way … or to destroy those already overcome with greater power when it’s time to end the game.
There are 12 abilities and given their effects and uses, there isn’t a bad one. With permission from the chaotic “Tornado”, I think my favorite is the “Hedgehog” because the stage’s objects and enemies are stuck in a ball of spikes, in the purest Katamari Damacy style. Of course, you’ll then break when this one evolves into “Hedgehog Knickknack” (which defaults to cactus, rockets, feathers, or even a bee’s ass with its spike) and finally “Crystalline Hedgehog” (with precious quartz), the last two shoots sharp objects everywhere and throwing the elements nailed to the ball.
The maximum expression of these abilities can be found outside of the phases in the so-called treasure trails. These challenges are set in secondary scenarios that are unlocked by moving through the worlds and exploring the map, and their finish is minimalistic to draw attention to the challenge. Because of this degree, they can be repetitive, but as their challenge increases, the interest ends up being what they’re asking you to do with skills you thought you’d mastered, and in return giving feedback on what Put them into practice in the phases.
These stages themselves, we warned in first impressions, are linear in nature and don’t limit themselves to erecting invisible walls to keep you from wandering off the marked path. It’s a very conscious concept that you can easily see in modern games like Crash Bandicoot 4 or Super Mario 3D World, and the most important thing is that the level design fits very well with the things you have to do in each moment.
To spice up the game a bit, add more laughs and prevent the main change being the 3D environment, HAL Laboratory pulls that out transmorphosis, which basically allow Kirby to do with objects what he normally does with enemies, while also stretching his form to untold limits. Again, we find hilarious and very clever examples of game design, although over time there aren’t as many transformations as I was expecting. The transmorph car is the absolute protagonist because its control is as good as in the rest of the game and because some Mario Kart-worthy tracks have been designed for it, but also things as ridiculous as the transmorph cone or the morph ring are quite varied Usages and comics, in addition to their own treasure routes. And I don’t forget that the transmorph water bubble is the best Kirby imaginable or the transmorph lightbulb occupies one of the best levels in the entire game.
With this collection of powers and abilities, while defeating some lovable bosses, Kirby saves the Waddle Dees, rebuilds his city and completes the various worlds of the Forgotten Land, beautiful locations that place him squarely one of the most beautiful games on Nintendo Switch till date. The artistic and technical work is top notch, via Yoshi’s Crafted World. It’s also odd how the designers have ventured into more realistic environments than a planet Earth suggests, and the combination is generally better than in the other game that dared first, Super Mario Odyssey. The city of Winteroblivion, the arrival at Villa Maravilla or the dusty streets of Meseta Umbralia are a treat for the eyes, but the soundtrack, especially in the fourth world, is worth the price.
At this point, I might be told, “David, you’re more forgiving than the game itself,” and I’m sure there is some criticism there. For example, don’t expect the near-infinite content of a Super Mario Odyssey before and after defeating the final boss. This is where you begin to complete the game from 8:00 p.m, and we must bear in mind that its difficulty makes it easy to progress quickly. Likewise, towards the end, HAL seems to run out of good ideas, although he has a few surprises in store and the treasure routes offer interesting challenges.
There’s also the invisible boundaries of phases or the inability to backtrack once through a door, which can be resources of questionable ingenuity. Also, the co-op mode isn’t the most comfortable that 3D platform games usually come up with, since aside from the annoying limitations of the screen when the characters don’t match, the second player will all envy Kirby’s copy skills as much as his for a while Watschle Dee Pañuelo be an ax with the spear.
However, almost the entire time I’ve played Kirby and the Forgotten Land, I’ve played with an ear-to-ear grin and my eyes wide open like I’m eating a treat at an amusement park. Few companies have made the transition from 2D or side-scrolling to 3D and free-roaming, but Nintendo, with Mario, Zelda, Metroid and co., was the big exception. Kirby has been waiting for his turn for years and with all this amazing work and love I can attest that this transformation worked out perfectly for him. And pink!