Typically, when a video game franchise starts out in 2D, it’ll head to 3D as long as it makes sense. But when it came to Kirby, everyone’s favorite pink puffball (sorry, Jigglypuff!), while he had games that had 3D models, and a 3D landscape visually, it never embraced the style of 3D that other Nintendo icons had done in the past. But then, with Kirby and the Forgotten Land, things finally changed. At GDC 2023, some of the team revealed why Kirby took so long to “explore the 3D world” in the way that gamers were used to, and it’s not for the reason you think.
The director of the game, Tatsuya Kamiyama, noted that the biggest problem…was Kirby’s shape:
“When you rotate a sphere, you can’t really tell that it’s being rotated. Kirby has a simple, spherical design, so it’s difficult to tell which way Kirby is facing when seen from behind. For Kirby’s ranged attacks, it’s a significant issue if the player even slightly misjudges which way the character is facing. Kirby attacks by inhaling enemies and spitting them out. For this reason, if you miss, you have to look for another enemy to inhale, which is very frustrating.”
To get around this for Kirby and the Forgotten Land, they implemented special systems to both assist players in combat and in seeing where Kirby was positioned. The game became the best-selling title in the franchise, and we sang its praises in our review. So hopefully, this won’t be the only adventure of its type.