Nintendo applies a certain formula to their games, and it’s always interesting to see what they do to their franchises in the next sequel. Kirby games have always felt like a weird outlier, where they really repeat and double down on the formula, to the point where you could pick out most of the sequels and get the same experience out of it. It’s the old Comic Book way of thinking “Each game could be someone’s first experience, so make it the same”. This applies to Kirby’s newest game, even with the “open world” layout.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes a bit of a different approach to the Kirby formula at the start, letting Kirby get transported into a new world, one far away from the normal Planet Popstar world, and into this world that looks like humans inhabited it… only decades removed from humans actually living there. Each level has the look and aesthetic of something like The Last Of Us. Some apocalyptic event caused the world to be abandoned and let nature reclaim the environment. It’s an interesting choice and one that I thought would break the Kirby mold.
Sadly, the mold is only slightly bent, and the basic Kirby formula remains intact. You still suck up enemies and swallow them up to gain their powers. There are some new powers, but for the most part it’s the same powers and enemies that have been there since the original NES and Game Boy games. And that was really my biggest issue with the game, as I started playing, even just a very little, I realized “Ok, it's the same game, just in a different location this time”. When the “big reveal” of who is behind everything (the first time) just is King Dedede… yet again, it’s such a let down. And the game acts like it really is some sort of large twist that the player would never see coming. It revels in thinking it’s much more cleaver than it really is. Because again, we are around 30 years into this franchise and the series still puts on the same show over and over and over again.
There really isn’t much more to say about the game, because at the end of the day, it’s just another Kirby game. Yes, there are some interesting side things, like the hub world where you can upgrade your power ups by finding blueprints in the levels, and taking them to a Waddledee in the hub world. Or you can explore the level a bit to unlock more hidden objectives that free more captured waddle dees to make the hub world larger. There are mini games like a very light version of a cooking simulator, or fishing minigame… but they are so light that it’s basically worthless to even play.
Kirby is just another copy in the series that doesn’t do anything different and isn’t really worth the time to play. It’s basic, easy and really meant more for children than adults who played the original games. It’s very pretty to look at, but beyond the surface of the game, it really doesn’t offer anything more than that. Its main intended audience is primarily children, where the game doesn’t offer any real challenge outside of a few hidden objectives if you want to get all the Waddledees. Things like taking no damage on a boss… which even then isn’t that hard if you memorize the patterns. All it does is pad out the game which is padded already.
At the end, there is a good hour plus of padding, where you repeatedly fight all the bosses in a boss rush level, and then there is a final boss, and a final final boss and then a final final final boss. That last hour of the game soured me on the game so much, even while I wasn’t feeling good and just used the game to keep my mind off of things I still felt like I just wanted to be done with the game and never play it again. Nintendo relies too heavily on their same bag of tricks that are just too old and boring at this point. Kirby needs more than just a new environment to make the game enjoyable. Sadly I think this will be the last Kirby game I ever play, because I’m done with the formula and don’t believe they will ever change it at this point.