I, like many others, entered 2022 cautiously and with a weariness stemming from having endured truly world-changing events long before. For many, January brought with it a collective sense of uncertainty as we all slowly emerged from the shadows and looked forward to the approaching spring light.
The first major releases of the year helped set the tone for what would follow. Elden Ring devoured most of the players I knew and spat them out as triumphant heroes, reshaped through hundreds of hours of sheer adversity. Sifu did something similar, reshaping his players with an onslaught of fists, bottles, and sticks. However, we all grieve differently, and it was actually Nintendo’s pinkest, plumpiest mascot that ended up giving me the hope I needed to move on with the rest of the year.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land, like many games, begins with utter chaos and destruction caused by swirling black portals and an ever-grinning villain. Essentially, in those opening moments, everything Kirby knows is ripped from him before he, too, is sucked into the stormy skies. He lands with a hollow crash and sits for a moment contemplating the strange broken world he now inhabits. For a split second it looks like he’s about to collapse, but no, this Kirby we’re talking about. With a wobbly leap, Kirby pushes himself forward, swallowing an entire car and triggering this year’s feel-good gaming moment.
For those who haven’t played, or worse, those who did and skipped it, the cutscene that opens Kirby and the Lost Land involves a road trip. Perhaps that’s an understatement, as it’s important to note that this particular road trip (and all road trips worth their salt) is accompanied by an original song with full lyrics, ascending strings, and even subtitles so you can sing along.
With his own theme from nearby radios, Kirby hurtles down a long highway, his shiny pink head bobbing as he goes. Stopping at a crossroads to let some chicks pass, he gazes up with wide and curious eyes at crumbling towers that gleam like gems in the sunlight. Kirby might just be a pink ball with a face drawn on it, but he’s also a living reminder that Nintendo is pretty damn good at it, isn’t he?
Leave it to Nintendo to provide a little bit of sunshine once again, just when we all needed it. I thoroughly enjoyed Kirby and the Forgotten Land, not only for its excellent combat, but also for its surprisingly fun boss fights. No, the reason this game stuck in my mind all year was because while playing it I felt like maybe everything could be okay after all.
Download at: https://www.eurogamer.net/games-of-2022-kirby-and-the-forgotten-land-had-the-best-road-trip-montage