Better a quarter century late than never.
(Played as “Star’s Kirby: Discovery” with Japanese text in handheld mode. It runs pretty well.)
2022 was a year made yours truly, a 32-year-old then, thinking about media they enjoyed as a kid in the seemingly simpler days of the 1990s. Sifu is a reminder of all those better movies Jackie Chan made at his prime, then there is Freedom Planet 2 reminding me of action adventure cartoons. Between those 2, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is an experience akin to the mascot 3D platformers “infesting” the late half of that decade.
Aspects where the jump button does not matter
The Forgotten Land, or Discovery as it was subtitled in the Japanese release, feels like a 1997 release remastered for this horrifying Roaring Twenties we are currently living in. It takes place in a wasteland where the former residents seemingly all gone while animals run wild. Kirby and their Waddle Dee friends try to settle down but must face off the wild beasts already there. If you think this game would be seen as a colonialism propaganda, fear not. Kirby and company got literally sucked into it by a hole in the sky and they will make friends with locals before too much permeate damage is done. The player character looks like pink bubblegum, an archetypal connecting tissue, after all.
This is not an open world game, with each stage being linear completed with points of no return. Instead, the vastness of the land one explores is presented as the good old map shaped level select menu since Super Mario World. Each zone with their er, biome is capped with a final boss level that requires a certain number of Waddle Dees rescued to unlock. Seeing those little guys tearing a gate down is very comforting.
One thing is pretty “2022” though, and they are named Elfilin. They are a er, blue flying mouse I think. The current Slice-of-life anime genre is practically dominated by adaption of comics published by Hobunsha. In those, a more rounded, warm and soft-edged girl with pink hair paired with a more pointed, cool and hard-edged girl with blue hair is the gold combination. And I guess even Nintendo cannot escape such trend so they give their iconic pink puff ball a blue pointy rat as playmate. But why just take my words for it when you can look for yourself, my dear reader.
Kirby and Elfilin celebrating the clear of a stage in Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Pretty similar to the one in the left, heh? Take note that this is not the image one would see during their first time through the stage. Unless the 3 Waddle Dees at the level’s end would join the celebration.
The adorable little blue thing does not even have a visible mouth in contrast to Kirby’s be all consuming. Though this blue mouse has to do all the talking since Kirby is one of silent person of action in a Nintendo action puzzle platformer. Just don’t except Cappy in Mario Odyssey level of involvement from this thing.
Guess there is this another not so 1990s aspect of this game and let’s just call it the NieR feeling. This soothing wasteland Kirby got to run around in has a fictional language, even the one theme song with vocal is sung in that made up tongue. Then, after an anime as all got out final boss, the end credits rolled and “To be continued” will grant you. Fear not, it’s not teasing a sequel. Just click continue on the start menu and a new set of levels will be available. Those are remixed levels with a more ominous purple glare. more sporadic checkpoints and more challenging for a Kirby game obstacles. Finishing those then another end credits, with different image, the same song and “the End” by the end, will roll.
Aspects concerning the jump button, though said button would not be mentioned
Kirby is of course a literal sucker of their enemies to gain new weapon to fight more enemies. One thing the Waddle Dee settlement provides is upgrading those weapon, so the next time Kirby sucks in one of those losers, they can have a more powerful way of attacking.
Then there is the more scripted a Mouthful. Guess even the black hole like Kirby cannot digest everything they put into their mouth. Those are tools the pink puff ball got to wrap themselves around on to use, including cars that can crash through roadblocks and walls, light bulbs to light up a dark level and so on. This new feature shines that most in those optional challenges dotted on the map shaped level select menu. Those challenges are completely optional, but the reward at the end of them allow one to upgrade, improve or simply change the abilities Kirby takes from their enemies.
Yours truly reside in the city where miHoyo of Genshin Impact fame and Hypergryph of Arknights fame set up their respective global headquarters in. The same city that has some pretty bizarre times during March to May in 2022. Playing Kirby and the Forgotten Land feels like a oddly coping thing to do at that time. It almost whispered to yours truly: it’s okay even if the end of the world came.
Either way, welcome to the club of Polygonal Extravaganzas, Kirby. Glad you made it after a quarter century and before the world truly ends. I hope I can see you in that form the next time and not grow tired of it.