Nintendo’s First 3D Kirby Game Has a Free Demo: Here Are Our First Impressions – CNET

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Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a 3D Kirby game. Did I expect even more?


Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

I’ve played a ton of Kirby games over the years. Probably more than I can remember. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the first 3D Kirby, and it immediately makes me think of Nintendo’s Mario game evolution. It reminds me of Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario Odyssey in particular. But, while this game so far seems charming, I can’t feel this sense that it’s not the eye-popping experience I was hoping for. And at Nintendo’s fifth anniversary of the Switch, it makes me wonder how much of that is maybe the console’s age.

I got early access to the game a few days ago from Nintendo, but you can already play a free demo on the eShop for yourself. I’ve played through all of the levels in World 1, plus some side bonuses, and I played on the Switch OLED. Kirby’s game structure is level based, with each stage so far having a more linear path than I was expecting: sort of like Super Mario 3D World. The perspective is fixed, with a limited amount of camera perspective wiggle.

I’m still not sure why Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes place in a post-apocalyptic-looking world (I’m sure I’ll find out, maybe?), but the game’s graphics, while cute, move at a less fluid frame rate than Nintendo’s Super Mario games on the Switch. I usually don’t care about things like that, but it makes the game feel older and a bit less immersive. It’s odd. 

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Boom! Kirby’s a car. Or Kirby sucked up a car.


Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

I can’t help but also think of Sony’s Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart for the PlayStation 5. That game, when I played it last year, popped out at me. The animation feels flawless and the controls feel beautifully integrated. I wish Kirby and the Forgotten Land felt more like that.

Kirby’s got brand new powers this time: Besides absorbing enemies, there’s a Mouthful Mode that wraps Kirby around objects, gaining new advantages. It reminds me of Mario’s cap in Super Mario Odyssey, but in execution so far it’s far more limited. There are only certain objects that can be activated in Mouthful Mode so far and they generally do very specific things. Suddenly sucking up a car felt fun, but it only really let me jump and power-blast through some obstacles.

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Kirby, the soda machine.


Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Would new graphics on a new Switch make things better? Other Switch games have looked better, to me. Between Pokemon Arceus and this Kirby game, though, Nintendo’s 2022 Switch titles have started to feel like they could use some new graphics punch. Five years into the Switch’s launch, it makes me wonder how much better this might have been on some new Switch 2 with improved graphics, or why the game doesn’t feel as peppy as recent 3D Mario games, or whether I just need to play more.

Kirby and Forgotten Land doesn’t arrive until March 25. I’ll have more impressions closer to launch, but so far I wish I were more impressed with this latest Kirby. Previous games have had brilliant ideas behind them. I’ll be patient and keep seeing what comes next.

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