Friday sees the release of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, the next instalment of the long-running Kirby franchise from HAL Laboratories, and the titular character's first foray into a full 3D adventure game.
The game sees Kirby dropped into a mysterious post-apocalyptic landscape with an array of different powers, all equipped through the character's trademark gobbling mechanic. Players can wield swords, throw bombs, or turn into a drinks machine that can wallop enemies with soda cans.
As of writing, the game has a score of 85 on Metacritic, with reviews generally positive across the board. In a Eurogamer Recommended review, Martin Robinson called Kirby and the Forgotten Land "a gloriously traditional platformer."
In a 9/10 review for NintendoLife, PJ O'Reilly noted that the new entry has managed to hold onto to recognisable parts of the series' past, and wrote: "HAL Laboratory has managed to successfully transpose everything we know and love from classic Kirby titles to this new game, with our little pink hero's exhaustive roster of copy abilities having made the jump intact."
Over at The Verge, Ash Parrish called Kirby and the Forgotten Land "a tactical cruise missile of unabashed happiness," but also said it "doesn't really have enough to keep you hooked."
In terms of story, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is kept relatively breezy and simple, with Kirby on a mission to save Waddle Dees from a terrible fate. That said, critics didn't share much detail on the plot.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land has less of an open world than initial trailers seemed to imply, but instead is separated into themed, linear levels with plenty to discover.
"There's ice levels! Beach levels! Fairground levels! All, somewhat bizarrely, served up with light post-apocalyptic undertones that come with the Forgotten Land's story," Robinson wrote.
"A tactical cruise missile of unabashed happiness, expertly designed to make you smile no matter how bad you feel"Ash Parrish, The Verge
"The extra dimension allows HAL Laboratory to stuff each of those levels with oodles of secrets; indeed, the challenge isn't so much about surviving each level -- even on the 'Wild Mode' harder setting this'll be one of the easiest games you'll encounter this year -- but unearthing its secrets, poking around here and there with new abilities to see what treasures await."
In a 4.5/5 review for GamesRadar, Heather Wald described how each level gets "progressively more challenging," and discussed how lots of additional missions are hidden.
"All of the objectives show off the creativity of the levels and make the most of the different locations," Wald said. "There's definitely an additional challenge in working out what the side objectives are -- I can't resist jumping right back into a stage if I miss any the first time around."
The game also has a hub area, Waddle Dee Town, which will slowly build itself up over time the more Waddle Dees are rescued.
"You'll start out with just a cinema for checking out cutscenes from previously played levels, but as things progress you'll add that all-important weapons upgrade shop, Kirby's very own house, an item store where you can pick up health and energy supplies, a bunch of minigames -- Flash Fishing is our current favourite -- and even a great big bloody Colosseum, where you can go let some steam off by battling through waves of the game's bosses in order to earn some special prizes," O'Reilly wrote.
Critics generally found the combat in the game fun; Mouthful Mode is one fresh addition to the game, which sees Kirby take on new powers and abilities by absorbing items in the environment.
"When it comes to Kirby's skillset, Mouthful Mode is undoubtedly one of the best additions in Kirby and the Forgotten Land," Wald wrote. "I don't know how many times I found myself joyfully yelling in sheer disbelief when a new mouthful moment came along. I've become a lightbulb, a cone, a vending machine, and even a very large water-filled balloon, and each one is put to use in different ways to progress."
However, over in a Polygon review, Ryan Gilliam noted how Kirby and the Forgotten Land stopped introducing new elements after the first few hours, which was also echoed by Parrish at The Verge.
"Even Kirby's adorable world couldn't save him from monotony," Gilliam wrote. "By the third world, Forgotten Land had shown me almost every new object I could inhale. What started as an exciting feature quickly became stale."
Meanwhile, Parrish commented on how Kirby and the Forgotten land also has a "low replayability factor."
"Even Kirby's adorable world couldn't save him from monotony"Ryan Gilliam, Polygon
"I feel like Kirby and the Forgotten Land just doesn't do enough," Parrish said. "You save Waddle Dees, defeat the bosses, and move on. Save enough Waddle Dees to upgrade the town and unlock various attractions that overall don't do much to hold your attention beyond a couple of attempts."
In all, Kirby and the Forgotten Land appears to be a pleasant, breezy platformer with wonderful environments to explore, but starts to lack variation in its later stages.
"Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a great big colourful joyride of an adventure for our little pink pal," O'Reilly concluded. "This first fully three dimensional mainline entry in the franchise is bursting at the seams with fun and inventiveness, managing to transpose everything we know and love about past Kirby games to this all-new arena whilst adding plenty of delightful new aspects as it goes."
Wald at GamesRadar also ended on a positive note, and said "Kirby and the Forgotten Land truly is a delight from start to finish."
Meanwhile, Polygon's Gilliam concluded that: "Kirby and the Forgotten Land burns too brightly, too soon, and that initial joy was hard to recall by the time the credits rolled."
Parish ends their review by likening the game to eating cotton candy.
"That's what it's like playing Kirby and The Forgotten Land; fun for the moment, but lacking any real substance," they wrote. "And that's okay! Kirby and the Forgotten Land's surgically deployed cuteness is more than enough to outstrip its relative emptiness."