TUCSON, Ariz. — Nintendo's favorite pink puffball mascot is back in "Kirby and the Forgotten Land," a free-wheeling, fun, and lighthearted platformer.
The challenges and set pieces in the joyous ramp slapped smile upon a smile on my face. Not only is the Switch exclusive one of the best outings for the shape-shifting hero, but it's also one of the best games on the system, period.
The true genius of the game is its accessibility. New players can plunge in without any knowledge of Kirby or his powers, but hardcore gamers still get plenty to chew on. Escalating, optional challenges abound for those who want to test their skills to the limit.
All players enjoy the mesmerizing visuals, which pile colossal enemies set against vivid, imaginative landscapes. Traditionally, Kirby games were set in cartoon-style worlds.
Still, the new entry adds real-world elements, creating a wild and charming juxtaposition that makes it compelling to seek out the surprises hiding around the next corner.
As has been the case since the hero was first introduced in 1992, Kirby swallows up enemies to take on their powers. He can be a sword-and-shield-swinging knight moment and an anthropomorphic vehicle the next.
While many of the game's puzzle scenarios have one clear solution, some have multiple paths that test and reward your creativity.
A multiplayer component allows a second player to join in on the action as Kirby's sidekick Waddle Dee. Players can team up to truck through the game or take pleasure in griefing one another, stalling the progress while piling up the laughs.
If the game has a flaw, the combat and health meter tend to be too forgiving, casting a "nerfed" sensation among even the most formidable baddies. While several encounters provide a stiff challenge, there's nothing much that will send you spiraling into an "Elden Ring"-style despair.
What "Kirby and the Forgotten Land" is best at is affirmation. Its boundless sense of fun, light challenge, and optimism is a bright spot in the often dour, super-serious gaming world.
When you're playing as Kirby, you're never quite beaten as long as you've got the will and a plan.
Publishers provided a review code.
Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.