Kirby and the Forgotten Land preview: A classic Kirby romp on Switch

Kirby and the Forgotten Land preview: A classic Kirby romp on Switch

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the pink puffball’s big 3D outing on Switch. No longer confined to the side-scrolling nature of most of his games, Kirby is free to suck up enemies and waddle around far more open spaces than usual. But make no mistake: This isn’t Kirby’s Breath of the Wild or Elden Ring. In a world filled with gigantic sequels, where players can explore every nook and cranny of an expansive world, Kirby seems to be taking a more reserved approach, and I’m happy to see him dipping just a single pink toe into a wider world.

During a preview for Kirby and the Forgotten Land, I was able to play through the game’s first world and boss fight. But unlike previous Kirby games — which typically start with grassy fields and a pissed-off tree — Kirby and the Forgotten Land sees our hero gallivanting through a post-apocalyptic city. Lush vegetation has taken over roads, traffic lights, and the bones of a dilapidated mall.

While that’s a fresh setting on its own, the modern land also gives Kirby some interesting new tools. Enter: Mouthful Mode, Kirby’s creative solution for gigantic modern items that he can’t digest. Instead of sucking up a car and becoming the vehicle, Kirby will stretch his giant mouth over the entire thing, leaving his little eyes blinking on the front bumper and his feet flopping in the wind behind the exhaust. While in possession of this car, I could drive it around levels and over ramps, and reveal new secrets by crashing into cracked walls.

Unlike the other Kirby powers (sword, flames, ice, the classics), Mouthful Mode items are largely scripted. I’ll suck in a traffic cone and use it to pierce a boss’ weak point, for example — then I’ll spit it out to move on with the level. Each new Mouthful Mode item delighted me, and even if the puzzle solutions were obvious, they always made for a nice change of pace. Watching Kirby stick his gob over a massive set of stairs or a water tower is such a joy that I’d intentionally spit the item out so I could see the animation again.

Outside of Mouthful Mode and the 3D movement around levels, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is structured just like a typical Kirby game. Using my Warp Star, I fly to new levels, collect captured Waddle Dees as I go, then move onto the next one. There’s no interconnectivity between the missions outside of their grassy post-apocalyptic theme, and each level is linear, with only slight deviations from the central path.