Kirby and the Forgotten Land preview: Kirby goes full-on 3D for the first time - MrLiambi's blog


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Thursday 3 March 2022

Kirby and the Forgotten Land preview: Kirby goes full-on 3D for the first time

It's been a long, long time coming, but Kirby is finally getting a fully 3D game from top to bottom, something that's so surprisingly overdue that you might think it already happened without you realising.

This really is it, though: Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the 3D platformer the series has been waiting for, and we've played through its first batch of levels to see how it's shaping up ahead of its official release date.

Looking good

Forgotten Land appears to use a very similar game engine to that of Super Mario Odyssey, meaning it brings plenty of visual flair, variety and mechanics to the table.

As the game opens, Kirby and other denizens of his homeworld are sucked into another dimension, one that looks a lot like a cartoonishly colourful post-apocalyptic landscape.

Kirby quickly sees a bunch of his friends and Waddle Dees getting kidnapped, and that's all the motivation or explanation needed for you to set off through a series of levels to find and free them all.

In the first world, comprising a few levels and some side challenges, we explored abandoned shopping malls, parks and rooftops, all with delightful touches and varied environments, and we can only assume the game will continue to delight in later worlds and levels.

It's also worth highlighting the superb soundtrack, which might only comprise a few tracks across the first set of levels, but zips and bounces along wonderfully with old-school themes that sound simply excellent.

The first world is only the start, and we're really intrigued to see where the game's developer, HAL Laboratory, takes things in subsequent stages - especially given how good a job it has done of aping post-apocalyptic themes in just a few levels as the game opens.

Welcome to 3D

Again, it's worth underlining that this is the first time Kirby's been in a fully 3D game of his own (we don't count Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards), and the transition feels impressively seamless.

All present and correct are a litany of Kirby classics, including suction powers, the ability to copy your enemies own moves by inhaling them, and his familiar bobbing floaty jumps.

Whether you're swallowing huge items and taking on their properties, using classic powers like sword slashes and bomb-chucking, or just moving around as Kirby's default pink self, there's a really nice look about everything.

However, this time you'll do all of the action on three-dimensional stages and from a variety of camera angles. You'll move from right to left a lot of the time, but be behind Kirby just as often, and occasionally run toward the camera, all of it working naturally.

That feels a bit like something we'd write about a Nintendo 64 game, but hey - it's still true now. The fun in Forgotten Land comes in trying out new copy abilities (even if they're not new to the series) and seeing what you can get up to with them.

In particular, there's a new mechanic called Big Mouthful mode, which is effectively where Kirby takes control of something too big for him to swallow entirely. The visuals of this are without exception hilarious in the slice of the game we've been able to play so far.

We've taken on the shape of a car (as pictured above), a staircase to access higher areas, a giant traffic cone to divebomb enemies from above, and a vending machine to pelt foes with ejected drinks cans. Each one has felt amusing and fun to control.

Between the normal copy abilities and these moments of madness the game's similarities to Super Mario Odyssey really are striking, given how that title let Mario possess items and animals alike. Also just like that game, the sheer visual flavour of each transformation is quietly hilarious, with Kirby's little face centred around some massive object each time.

That's a great precedent to try to live up to, and while we haven't played too much of Forgotten Land at this stage, it's doing a good job of imitating one of the best platformers ever.

Where it falls down slightly is in Kirby's own move-set, which is far more limited and less fluid than Mario's runs and jumps. Still, you can get into a nice flow state and for all of Odyssey's family-friendly appeal we think Kirby is a game that even younger players will be able to get to grips with and enjoy, thanks to simpler level layouts and more forgiving difficulty settings.

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