Leaking just hours before the announcement at the Nintendo Direct in September 2021, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is officially the next installment in the long line of games starring this adorable round pink puffball. Kirby’s last adventure also came to Switch in 2018 in the form of Kirby: Star Allies, which was an amazing package for casual and hardcore gamers alike. There was also the fighting game spinoff game Kirby Fighters 2, but now Kirby is making his triumphant return in his traditional platforming genre, although with a major twist.
Kirby has always been a lighthearted, more casual experience on the surface. He’s a cute character who stars in games where it’s either very difficult, or sometimes impossible, to actually die. His primary mechanic of sucking up enemies to either launch as projectiles or steal their powers is addicting and makes his gameplay always evolving. At the same time, there’s a clear undercurrent of maturity in some games, and optional challenges that can push back on the player’s skills. While we won’t know for sure how this installment will shake out until we get our hands on it, here’s everything we do know about Kirby and the Forgotten Land.
For now, we have a fairly large release window of spring 2022 for Kirby and the Forgotten Land. We expect it to be the next big game Nintendo releases after Pokemon Legends: Arceus in January. We don’t suspect the date to slip, since it has been a few years already since Kirby’s last game.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is coming exclusively to the Nintendo Switch. This should come as no surprise, as Kirby has always been one of Nintendo’s exclusive series, despite developer HAL Laboratory technically not being owned by Nintendo. Kirby is just as closely tied to Nintendo as Mario and Zelda are at this point, so any fans of his games would already know they would need to pick up a Switch to play his latest game.
The announcement trailer for Kirby and the Forgotten Land doesn’t exactly have the tone you might expect from a Kirby game. It opens on a ruined city that nature has begun to reclaim. We see abandoned malls, streets, and buildings before finding Kirby waking up on a beach, apparently confused about his whereabouts before venturing into this abandoned metropolis. He encounters a few creatures as he runs and jumps through the environment, traversing broken-down roads, construction sites, and even a rusting amusement park.
The beach environment is also explored, as well as what looks like a funhouse interior, plus a snowy location. Iconic characters also show up, such as waddle dees, enemies like Kabu, plus a host of transformations and powers.
In terms of an actual plot, almost nothing was said, but we doubt it will be the main focus of the game. According to the official description, “In this new unforgettable 3D platforming adventure, Kirby explores a mysterious world full of abandoned structures from a past civilization. What surprises await the pink puffball?”
This is the most exciting aspect of Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Nearly all Kirby games, especially the mainline titles, have been 2D adventures. Now, we get a fully 3D Kirby game where we can thoroughly explore this fully realized city. Many are comparing it to a Mario Odyssey; however, we think that may be going a bit too far. The trailer shows us multiple ways we can expect the game to control, from the aforementioned fully 3D perspective to a more isometric camera setting, and even 2D segments as well.
In terms of actual gameplay, Kirby does exactly what you’d want him to. He can run, jump, and do his iconic float in the air, but sucking up enemies is still his bread and butter. We get a great look at Kirby inhaling one foe and launching it at another, including him sucking up a massive bull-looking enemy and sending it barreling through multiple objects. Of course, there are also the enemies you’d rather absorb than launch.
Of Kirby’s transformations, we see the return of his sword, fire, ice, and boomerang powers, but we expect plenty more to be included. We see Kirby using these powers for combat, but also as utility and puzzle-solving tools. The boomerang was seen being used to grab some form of collectible, and flames to light a torch in the environment. We see plenty of coins and stars to collect, which leads us to believe it is going to be a collectathon at heart. The waddle dees we saw were also locked in a golden cage until freed by Kirby, perhaps suggesting we will need to find and free more of them across the map.
At one point we follow Kirby riding a star that whisks him through the city. Kirby’s ride of choice has always been stars, so perhaps in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, they function something like a fast travel system.
We also get a good look at a giant ape boss fight to close out the trailer, implying there could be more large cinematic encounters. In total, this trailer looks like Kirby and the Forgotten Land is exactly what fans of Kirby would want from a 3D version of this series.
There’s no hint that there is any multiplayer mode in Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Everything we saw focused on Kirby adventuring the world alone, but Kirby games do have a history of having plenty of other modes that could include multiplayer. However, considering this is the first 3D Kirby game, and likely much larger than any other game he’s had, we would guess the focus would be on making a fully polished and featured single-player game here, with maybe something like Mario Odyssey’s multiplayer mode, where a second player could just control Cappy, tacked on.
DLC is going to be hard to predict. On one hand, this game doesn’t look like it would have any DLC at the moment, but we’ve only seen a very small, heavily edited, glimpse at it so far. For all we know, there could be plenty of space to add in new zones or environments. Also, Kirby: Star Allies notoriously got a ton of free support and DLC post-launch, including new Dream Friends and secret areas. Again, this is a completely new type of Kirby game, so the post-launch support, or lack thereof, could be completely different. So this one has us fully stumped, and we’ll just have to wait and see.
Pre-orders are not available for Kirby and the Forgotten Land as of now. Since the game is set to come out in the spring of 2022, it shouldn’t be long before Nintendo announces a firm release date, at which point we expect them to simultaneously open up pre-orders. When that happens, we will let you know where you can reserve your copy of Kirby’s newest adventure, plus any special editions you may be interested in.