Kirby and the Forgotten Land was very much a surprise when it was announced. Because we already had a Kirby title view Kirby Star Allies that did really well on Nintendo Switch. But this, from start to finish, looked and felt different. It was Kirby outside of Dreamland, having new enemies, new places to explore, and new powers to get along the way. And as you’ll see in this Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review, we think it’s one of Kirby’s best games…ever. If not THE best Kirby game ever!
Being that this is a Kirby title, the story is very simple, but it has depth where it needs to. Kirby is in Dreamland when suddenly a vortex opens in the sky and he (along with a horde of Waddle Dees) get sucked into it and ends up in “The Forgotten Land” (a name that as we find out in the endgame cutscenes…is an apt title). As Kirby regains his bearings, he realizes that the Waddle Dee are getting captured by the creatures of this land and it’s up to you and your new friend Elfilin to get them back!
What’s immediately apparent in this game is just how much broader it is. It’s not technically open-world like Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild, but it’s more open than most Kirby games. In those ones, you go from left to right in order to get through the levels. The challenge was always in how you got from right to left. But here, the game pushes the creativity of the “typical gameplay,” and it absolutely astounds.
Like most platforms, there are different areas you go into and they each have a different number of stages to play in. Each one is different from the other from top to bottom. Even when they “repeat” certain beats it’s fresh and exciting. The fun that is within this game cannot be expressed enough, and I mean that in a good way. Both I and my Nintendo Entertainment Podcast co-host Tyler Kelbaugh were having so much fun getting into this title and seeing all that it had to offer.
Per the Kirby games, you have to defeat enemies big and small with a variety of powers. But, in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, you have the ability to not just get powers, but grow them. For example, you can get the Sword power-up, then get it upgraded to the Gigant Sword which is more powerful. THEN, you can upgrade it to the Meta Knight Sword and have a whole bunch more power (and Meta Knight’s Mask) at your disposal. Scatter that across a bunch of different power-ups and abilities and you’ll be leveling up your favorites and making sure you have them for the boss fights.
But the true “newness” in the game comes from the Mouthful Mode abilities. This is a “new power” that Kirby gets by going through the vortex of the game, and throughout the lands and levels, you’ll find certain items you can “become” and thus use new powers like never before. You can become a car, a ring that shoots air, a cone that can piledrive into the ground, a pipe that will roll across certain stacked areas, a vending machine, and more!
At first, you might think this is just a “novelty mechanic” to shake things up. But it’s not. They get REALLY creative with how you use these abilities when you use them, and your limits on what you can do with them. For example, with Car Mouth Kirby (no relation to G4’s Attack of the Show version, we promise), you’ll be able to not just crash through items, but do races where your timing determines your prizes. And in some levels, you’ll need to search for the Mouthful Mode option so that you can get all the collectibles in the game, and there are a lot of them out there.
Plus, there are ones that weren’t advertised, such as you becoming a freaking roller coaster cart!!!! Yeah, those ones were a LOT of fun. Plus, in certain sections, you can retry the levels to make sure you don’t miss out. You’ll have a lot of fun with Mouthful Mode, I guarantee it.
Now, a certain question I’m sure many are going to ask for this Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review is that of the “challenge”. Of the Nintendo platformers, Kirby’s titles are more…whimsical than challenging. Especially when you compare them to titles like Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze and Super Mario Odyssey at times. The good news is that this game does provide a challenge in certain ways.
The biggest way is that of completion, as in 100% completion. As noted earlier, the game puts you in a new land with the Waddle Dees getting captured. In every level there are about a dozen Waddle Dees to find both hidden in the level, and through secret challenges. You’ll need to be mindful of all that’s around you to find and collect the Waddle Dees, and while some are obvious (and even give you a sound to let you know they’re close), others aren’t going to be so easy to find.
The good news, is that if you missed one of the “secret challenges”, they’ll reveal one of them to you at the end of the level so you can go back and play. And when you see the “freed Waddle Dee” animation with Kirby…you’ll want to get them all.
Plus, the more Waddle Dees you find, the more you build up Waddle Dee Village, which offers you chances to do mini-games, learn about other players via stats, upgrade your weapons, go to a coliseum to do battle, and more!
Finally, gameplay-wise at least, the boss fights are very fun, very unique, and will test your skills at times. I admit it took me a while to die in this game, but the bosses were indeed one of the times I died, and certain ones have a variety of attacks you’ll need to be aware of at all times to ensure you get through. And while a certain “King” is present twice in boss fights, he’s not the big bad here. That’s something…else…
Plus, there is post-game content that has you doing remixed levels and fighting the “True Final Boss”, so that’s something to keep you going!
So, what holds this game back? A few things. First off all, while there is lore in the game, it comes in a very Dark Souls/Elden Ring kind of way (shocking, I know). You’ll get collectibles throughout the game, and they, at times will reveal more about the “Forgotten Land” you’re now in. It’s unique to Kirby games for sure. But then, we get an info dump at the end of the game and it’s…kind of jarring given the rather deep content.
Second, while the “Waddle Dee Search” mechanic is fine for this game and gives it replayability for those who like to be a “Completionist”, there are times I felt the game was a bit “too smart for its own good”. Some of the challenges felt really random or not obvious. Such as climbing to the top of a rocket statue…when it wasn’t even obvious we could climb up it. Or jump down a specific hole…even though most times that would have us lose health. And other times I would get a challenge about a specific world object and go, “where was that in the level?”
Other challenges are a kind of “fetch quest” and if you don’t pay absolute attention to the world around you…you’re going to miss one of them, or many of them and have to replay the level from the start to get it.
Also, when it comes to upgrading your abilities, you need special “Rare Stones” from vortex levels that put you to the test with your power-up abilities. Overall, these are fine. BUT, they act as a kind of “tutorial” for powers and they don’t happen in a “straight line” if you will. So for example, there’s a “Sleep” ability that Kirby can get and I used it once because…I didn’t understand what was good about it. And other abilities I had been using for a while, did those levels and THEN I figured out about a secondary power that these things had that I didn’t realize before. It felt counter-intuitive.
Finally, the Waddle Dee Village was fine, but at times it felt pointless to go there. There are mini-games to do like the coliseum or fishing, but for me, I didn’t go back unless I needed to upgrade a weapon. It’s a cute addition, but it’s overall superfluous.
As I wrap up this Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review I want to note once more that I really did love this game. It was a lot of fun and it made me reconnect with the Kirby series for the first time since Epic Yarn. It’s not perfect, but I do indeed think of it as the “Kirby Breath of the Wild“. This was the way to “break free” of what came before…so now you have to pleasantly wonder…what are they going to do to top this?
Review Disclosure Statement: Kirby and the Forgotten Land was purchased The Outerhaven for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a triumph and a new direction for Kirby games as a whole. While not everything they throw in works, this is a game you’ll enjoy playing, and then trying to get 100% completion on.