Kirby and the Forgotten Land review | The Switch game is not a Mario clone

A 4 out of 5 star rating.

There’s a major new Nintendo Switch game hitting the scene this week, with Kirby and the Forgotten Land releasing this Friday, much to the delight of hungry pink blob fans.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land (or Kirby as the Lost World as I keep accidentally calling it) looks like a 3D platformer in the vein of Super Mario Odyssey on paper, which is still one of the best Nintendo Switch games. of our books. This comparison is especially easy to draw when you consider that Kirby – much like Mario in Odyssey – is able to assume the powers of many of his enemies, though Kirby inhales his enemies as Mario throws hats at them.

However, you could say that the platform isn’t really the focus here. Kirby can hover in the air pretty much any time, so carefully timing your jumps between platforms is rarely your real goal in the Forgotten Land. Instead, the game just wants you to have fun, try different things, and explore its many nooks and crannies. And it’s in this play and exploration that the game really shines.

After a brief opening scene that sees Kirby transported to a post-apocalyptic world (though very bloodless, this is a game for kids), the player is quickly introduced to the major new gameplay mechanic – Kirby now has something. called Mouthful Mode, where he can try to eat large objects and temporarily gain their abilities. For example, Kirby can put an entire car in his mouth and drive for a few minutes, making the most of the vehicle’s speed and destructive power.

Kirby using his Mouthful mode on a car. nintendo

Kirby can also inhale smaller enemies to gain their abilities (this is the copy ability that returning fans recognize). For example, if you suck up an enemy armed with a sword, then you can use that small sword yourself. There are fillers of skills like this to acquire and trade, and you can upgrade them all to boost their powers.

Using these skills, you will fight your way through a series of colorful environments trying to rescue small creatures called Waddle-Dees and overcome some boss battles. These fights start out very simple, but they get harder as you go, requiring some thought to overcome. Nothing on the level of those grueling Elden Ring bosses, of course, but that’s not a fair comparison (although it was a little shocking to switch from one to the other).

There’s an overwhelming amount of choice here, and players can choose which abilities they want to use in levels and battles. Plus, you can team up with a friend for two-player co-op, so you can mix and match your abilities to complement your friend’s playstyle, if you like. The levels are constructed in such a way that multiple approaches are valid, which works very well.

Kirby in a boss battle against a large monster tree.

Kirby using the shooting ability in a boss fight. nintendo

While Mario Odyssey’s levels often felt like mini open worlds, Kirby and the Forgotten Land’s levels are more linear and traditional, though they have plenty of hidden areas for players to stumble into. Each level also has a few small secondary goals, giving you some motivation to try the levels multiple times as you try to perfect them.

The more you play, the more you’ll come to admire the level design, which features regular curve balls to check if you’ve been paying attention. For example, there are a few racetrack segments where you have to use your Mouthful Mode skill to race a half-eaten car around a short course against a timer. Little confusions in the formula that help keep things fresh.

The graphics and story are as simple and basic as you’d expect from one of Nintendo’s kid-friendly titles (we’d still love to see a Nintendo Switch Pro that could go beyond that feel of cartoon), but there’s an awe-inspiring sense of detail baked into the global world itself. For example, each level you complete will unlock a small challenge area that you can visit if you feel like taking a break from the main campaign.

Completing these small side tasks (one of the first is bowling using bombs against a timer) will reward you with the resource you need to upgrade your various abilities, which is done in the small central world you visit between levels. As you progress through levels and save Kirby’s little friends, you’ll also unlock new buildings to visit in this hub world, some of which house their own mini-games and stories.

On paper, this game may therefore seem simple, like a superficial imitation of Mario Odyssey. But it’s actually a surprisingly deep offering that Nintendo fans are sure to appreciate. It takes a while for the game to offer a real challenge (especially for adult players), but there’s a kind of innocent fun working through each level, rescuing your little friends and gradually gaining better and more skills. varied to use on your enemies.

And here’s the most important thing to point out: Kirby and the Forgotten Land is fun. It’s full of silly little moments and unique insights that will make you smile wryly, and there are even a few references to previous adventures that longtime Kirby fans will appreciate. Whether you’ve been following this adorable pink blob for a while, or even if you only know Kirby from Super Smash Bros Ultimate, we recommend picking up this game. Whether or not you have a friend or family member to play co-op mode, we think you will have a great time with this one.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land releases April 25 on Nintendo Switch.

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