Kirby and the Forgotten Land preview: An adventure that's actually fun for two

Carmouth Kirby Bandana Waddle Dee The Forgotten Land
Carmouth Kirby Bandana Waddle Dee The Forgotten Land (Image credit: iMore)

Nintendo has been working on a brand new Kirby game that is unlike anything the pink puffball has ever done before. Instead of being confined to side-scrolling, Kirby will be platforming his way around a more dynamic 3D world with hidden secrets, new moves, and creative ways to solve puzzles with the hilarious Mouthful Mode. While the game offers a fun solo adventure, controls and abilities for player two are complementary. They're not exactly equal, but it does give a partner a lot of autonomy to do things their own way.

Ahead of the game's release on March 25, I was able to participate in a preview of the Kirby and the Forgotten Land demo, which allowed me to see the game's two difficulty modes, how extensive the co-op mode is, and other never-before-seen elements. The demo, which is currently available on the eShop, is only a small portion of the game, but seeing it played through live and with commentary did provide a better sense of what this game is all about.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land manages to pull fun platforming mechanics into a modern adventure that is equally fun for people of all ages, whether or not players are already familiar with Kirby lore.

Two difficulty modes for all skill levels

Kirby And The Forgotten Land Cone Mouth (Image credit: Nintendo)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryKirby and the Forgotten Land
TitleKirby and the Forgotten Land
DeveloperHAL Laboratory
GenreAction, Platformer
Game Size6.2GB
Players1-2 on one Switch
FormatDownload/Game Card
Launch Price$60

The game starts with Kirby finding himself somehow transported from his home, Planet Popstar, to a ruin-covered land. It seems that a group known as the Beast Pack is wreaking havoc, capturing Waddle Dees (which were also teleported here from Planet Popstar) and posing a threat to all. It's up to Kirby to save the Waddle Dees, undo the work of the Beast Pack, and figure out what brought him to this strange world.

Before starting any of the game's missions, players can choose whether to play in Wild Mode or Spring Breeze Mode. Wild Mode makes enemies and bosses more challenging but also offers better rewards, while Spring Breeze Mode gives players more health and makes the levels simpler. These modes serve two purposes. They can make the game more enjoyable to play for people of any skill level, and they lend replayability since players can work up to the harder mode if they so choose.

Co-op play also makes levels easier since there are two of you taking on the same challenges and enemies together. However, it's worth noting that two-player co-op and Bandana Waddle Dee are not available at the start but rather can only be accessed once Player 1 makes it through the opening tutorial.

Kirby's excellent platforming and co-op take after two Switch classics

Kirby And The Forgotten Lands Two Player Fighting (Image credit: Nintendo)

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is very different from previous Kirby games. From watching the demo, it really feels like Forgotten Land took cues from Super Mario Odyssey as well as Luigi's Mansion 3. In the same way that Super Mario Odyssey hearkened back to Mario's golden N64 3D platforming days while also bringing fresh ideas to the table, this latest Kirby game feels like a natural progression for the series that has been stale for far too long.

It employs Kirby's unique classic attacks from previous Kirby games while also providing new elements for players to discover. The Mouthful Modes, while just absolutely silly, give players new ways to solve puzzles and explore larger courses that feel a lot like Mario Odyssey stages in many ways. Not to mention, the new mechanic that allows players to level up Copy Abilities lets players customize their play experience.

Additionally, Forgotten Land shares something in common with one of my favorite games, Luigi's Mansion 3: an amazing main campaign co-op. Player 1 controls Kirby while Player 2 will always control Bandana Waddle Dee. The two characters' movesets are very different, but are complementary to each other. While Player 2 has more limited capabilities than Player 1, they can still collect items and defeat enemies in their own way without Kirby's help.

Kirby And The Forgotten Land Enemy (Image credit: Nintendo)

The co-op has other limitations. While the game does connect with Nintendo Switch Online to view online leaderboards, the two-player campaign is only available locally on one Switch. The camera does center on Kirby so if Bandana Waddle Dee gets too far away, he bubbles back to his pink friend. Additionally, Copy Abilities and Mouthful Modes are exclusive to Kirby, so Bandana Waddle Dee cannot change powers. However, Bandana Waddle Dee does have a spear that he can use to smack nearby enemies, throw at far-away baddies for ranged attacks, or spin above his head to float and perform aerial attacks alongside Kirby. In some Mouthful Mode situations, having Bandana Waddle Dee around makes the two more powerful. For instance, with Car Mouth, Kirby wraps himself over a car and can run enemies over while Bandana Waddle Dee holds on to the back of the car and can hurl spears at the objects and enemies the two pass, basically turning the car into a sort of tank.

In some Mouthful Mode situations, having Bandana Waddle Dee around makes the two more powerful.

This co-op setup lets players of any skill level feel like they're not just participating but playing a lead role, whether that be two siblings, two friends, or a parent playing with their child. Player 1 takes the lead but Player 2 can still collect items and defeat enemies on their own. The two even have separate health bars, but they can share food to regain health by coming together and high-fiving after either character picks said food up.

A level completes once the players make it to the golden cage at the end of the stage but there are plenty of hidden locations that players might miss along the way. Once the golden cage has been reached, a summary of your achievements pops up telling you your score and what missions for the level you managed to complete. That way, if you missed something, you can replay the level and try to unlock everything.

Mouthful Modes and Copy Abilities provide new challenges and replay value

Kirby And The Forgotten Land Car Mouth Coins (Image credit: Nintendo)

The Waddle Dee town gets upgraded and becomes more useful as players save the Waddle Dees hidden throughout each level in Tulips and other secret locations. Players can also scan amiibo to get helpful items for their quest. When I asked a Nintendo spokesperson about which amiibo could be used, I was told, "Kirby themed amiibo from the Kirby series or Super Smash Bros. series will give even better items." That being the case, you might want to dust off your amiibo collection and prepare to use them.

One of the biggest reasons to upgrade the Waddle Dee town deals with Kirby's most popular trait: his ability to swallow enemies and take on their attack powers. These Copy Abilities have been around as long as the pink puffball himself, but they're given a fresh coat of paint within Forgotten Land since players can upgrade them within Waddle Dee's Weapon Shop (as long as they have the correct in-game currencies such as Star Coins or Blueprints, which they find while running through courses).

An upgrade changes the look of a Copy Ability but also might cause a Copy Ability to hit harder, throw further, or work faster. Additionally, players can customize which Copy Abilities they'd prefer to see show up more often, allowing them to run into their favorite power-ups more frequently. Many familiar Copy Abilities return here, but there are also two brand new ones: Ranger, which gives Kirby a star gun, and Drill, which allows Kirby to drill underneath and then attack opponents.

Kirby And The Forgotten Land Drill (Image credit: Nintendo)

In the demo, players have to choose between two Copy Ability powerups before entering a mini-boss battle. The choice you make provides a different challenge and gives replay value since players can run through the level again to see what happens when they choose a different Copy Ability than before.

Kirby can only have one Copy Ability at a time. However, whenever Kirby enters Mouthful Mode, any Copy Ability he already acquired remains in place but is inaccessible until he exits Mouthful Mode, making the Copy Ability ready to use again. For instance, if Kirby grabs the Bomb Copy Ability and then wraps himself around a vending machine in Vending Mouth mode, he'll still have the Bomb hat on but can only use the Vending Mouth abilities until he releases the vending machine and reverts back to Bomb abilities. As part of that, it looks like Kirby can swap to and from using a Mouthful Mode whenever he pleases as long as the necessary object is around for him to use.

Likely the best Kirby game yet

With the game taking after more robust Nintendo Switch 3D platformers and including a fun co-op campaign that gives Player 2 a lot of control, Kirby and the Forgotten Land looks like it will become not only one of the best Nintendo Switch games, but one of the best Kirby games of all time. You can check it out with the eShop demo or wait until it launches for Nintendo Switch on March 25, 2022.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.