A surprise demo for Kirby and the Forgotten Land dropped into the Nintendo eShop yesterday, letting players present Planet Popstar’s powerful pink puffball with his newest challenge: the Z axis. The demo takes you through the first two levels, complete with in-level tutorials (which, thankfully, aren’t too intrusive), then wraps it up with the game’s first boss battle.
The Plot: Dream Land Is Doomed! Again!
When the sky over Dream Land suddenly breaks open, Kirby and the other Dream Landers get pulled into another world. Strange fox-like creatures soon capture the Waddle Dees, so it’s up to Kirby to save them and get everyone back home.
But who’s behind it all? And why? The demo doesn’t say—and, knowing Kirby, he probably doesn’t care. All he needs to know is that these things were mean to his friends, and it’s time for Kirby the God Slayer to bring the pain once again.
NARRATOR: “So, Kirby, what eldritch horror will you smite today?”
KIRBY: “Poyo! 😃”
The Gameplay: Familiar and Fun
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is Kirby’s first fully 3D outing, and the devs have taken more than a page out of Super Mario Odyssey’s book: Between the colorful world, the engaging 3D platforming, and the coins, collectibles, and mini-missions in each level, it’s more like they wrote a whole new chapter for it.
Please note that’s not a complaint. Super Mario Odyssey is one of the most purely, unashamedly fun games I’ve ever played, and a great example for Kirby to follow for his 3D debut.
If you told me this is New Donk City after the collapse of human civilization, I’d believe you.
Of course, it’s not a total copy of Odyssey. This is a Kirby game, after all, and Forgotten Land hasn’t… uh, forgotten that. That means you can bolster your platforming skills by floating, fight by sucking up enemies and spitting them out, and steal enemy abilities to power up and solve various puzzles. There’s not a whole lot to say about that, except that Kirby’s signature mechanics have made the transition to 3D smoothly and pretty much unchanged.
What is worth talking about is “Mouthful Mode,” a new power where Kirby can take over large objects by throwing his hat sucking them up, which lets him control things like cars, vending machines, and traffic cones. Mouthful Mode gives Kirby access to a wide range of new abilities like ramming through walls and throwing explosive soda cans. Some of those powers are necessary to get through levels, while others allow you to find hidden items or defeat enemies that you’d otherwise just have to run past.
It also looks extremely silly:
I’m not going to get into the questions behind a traffic cone being too big for someone who once inhaled an entire train.
Overall, the demo for Kirby and the Forgotten Land is very short—I blew through it in about 20 minutes—but well worth that time. It handles well, it’s fun to play, and what it lacks in challenge (even on the harder difficulty) it more than makes up for in charm.
The full release promises a couple of new additions, too. First of all, you’ll be able to get powered-up versions of your copy abilities. The demo actually lets you play with those once you beat it normally, though you can only find a handful of abilities in the levels you have available.
There will also be a town where the rescued Waddle Dees live, where you’ll be able to play minigames and presumably spend the coins you collect in levels, though what you’ll spend them on remains to be seen. I can only hope the town ends up being an interesting place where you can have some fun and find cool stuff, rather than just someplace to grind through to-do lists.
It also promises "a new world of mysteries," which... come on, "a new dimension of mysteries" was RIGHT THERE!
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is scheduled to release on March 22nd, and is available for pre-order now.