Kirby and the Forgotten Land: The long and convoluted road to Kirby’s first full 3D game

2022 is shaping up to be a banner year for Kirby Franchising. Not only did the series celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the best-selling Game Boy games of all time, but the series also debuted its first fully 3D main game, Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

Needless to say, a series of films that have spent three decades being first adapted into 3D is a big deal. As a Kirby fan since the first game, I’m not ashamed to say I screamed like Marx was broken in half at the end of Kirby Superstar Ultra when I finally saw my precious pink boy. move around in a beautiful HD, 3D space.

However, it’s actually an even bigger deal when you consider how many years the developer HAL Labs has wanted to send Kirby into the third dimension. In fact, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the culmination of more than 15 years of effort that has finally paid off.

But that doesn’t mean the franchise didn’t have 3D before. It should come as no surprise to anyone that HAL Labs was poised to make the jump from 2D alongside all the other major Nintendo franchises in the mid-90s as Nintendo geared up for the launch of the Nintendo 64. Games Their first for the console was titled Kirby Bowl 64 and featured Kirby rolling around a 3D chessboard scene, occasionally jumping on a snowboard.

The idea of ​​the game was gradually retooled into a project called Kirby’s Air Ride, which featured Kirby and many other familiar series characters racing against each other in colorful environments. Like a good idea, the game didn’t get the reception Nintendo wanted and was dropped from the Nintendo 64 release schedule after a very long (and very quiet) development period.

Instead, it will eventually be the actual Nintendo 64 launch of Kirby: Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. In a difficult turn, this game took the safe route with 2.5D style gameplay instead of full 3D. Fans – or at least my kids – can’t help but wonder why HAL Labs didn’t let Kirby get the most out of the Nintendo 64. We want to see that pink flesh from every angle! We want to see Kirby gobble up something in all three dimensions! Let him out of his 2D prison!

Even a generational change would put Kirby in a bind; Nintendo’s next home console, the GameCube, was once again offered very little on the Kirby front. However, a release it has seen is crucial. Kirby’s Air Ride has seen a triumphant resurgence when – wait for it – Kirby Air Ride. Just like the N64 version laid out, it has the distinct honor of having the first true 3D gameplay in the franchise.

“In the Kirby Air Ride, there is a mode called City Trial that sees the player racing around a large 3D city area on Air Ride Machines,” said Shinya Kumazaki, general manager of the Kirby series during an interview. interview with VG247 2014. “It definitely shows how well the combination of Kirby-style action and 3D environments works, so I thought [a full 3D Kirby game is] definitely a possibility if Kirby is capable of doing much! “

Certainly a possibility but will not materialize for many years to come, despite HAL Lab’s best efforts.


Times have been tough for the Kirby franchise in the GameCube era. While Kirby Air Ride is certainly an interesting sub-title, 11 long years would pass without a mainline Kirby console game. Sure, we have the Kirby Canvas Curse and the Kirby Squeak Squad, but those spinoffs don’t quite get the itch for kids of all ages to have more Kirby content.

For years, fans never knew the story as to why, but the answer finally came to light a few years ago during an Iwata Asks segment in which the late former President of Nintendo – Satoru Iwata – will talk to developers from various franchises -scenes interview. It was revealed that, shortly after the completion of Kirby 64, HAL Labs experimented with various ideas for the next main game: one traditional 2D title, another 2D title stylized like a book pop-up books… and yes, one that even has full Kirby 3D gameplay.

However, no matter how hard the studio tried, none of the three test titles had ever progressed to the time of full release. It’s been a whole decade of stalemate for the next big Kirby game. Talking about the 3D game, Shigefumi Kawase (current president of HAL Labs) calls it “an experiment with extremely challenging gameplay that places Kirby in 3D space and allows the player to move around freely. But unfortunately, we were not able to achieve the quality we expected and it never reached the finish line.” Later in the interview, he added, “We wanted to give it out when the fans wanted it, but the movement wouldn’t be right or we wanted to give more surprises to the fans and we didn’t. can bring it to Final Form. We went through that hardship for 11 years.”

So when Kirby finally saw the return of home consoles in Kirby’s Adventure Wii (known in the West as Kirby’s Return to Dream Land), they were once again stuck with the original 2D style. worked great for previous entries.


However, HAL Labs is not about to give up. Kirby was released regularly throughout 2010, but all games have the same 2D style. However, these titles provided plenty of opportunities to experiment with Kirby in 3D, in their own little ways, and find something that would eventually click. The seeds were first planted in the aptly named Kirby 3D Rumble, a mini-game featured in Kirby: Planet Robobot 2016.

The gameplay is simple enough—moving Kirby around in 3D, sucking in enemies, and shooting them at other enemies—but elegantly showcases how Kirby games can be accurately transformed into 3D. Whether or not HAL Labs finds the results of their latest test encouraging, who can say, but either way, the concept is already widespread enough to warrant a standalone release with budget a year later: Kirby’s Blowout Blast, which features larger levels and expanded gameplay.

Things were taken a step further in 2018’s Kirby Battle Royale, which answers the age-old question: “What if you had a series of Kirbys defeating each other by replicating in 3D?” Each of these experimental titles pushes the boundaries of the Kirby game, but the big step is still a few years away.


This naturally leads us to today, and is the next logical step for the Kirby franchise. The announcement of Kirby and the Forgotten Land has, after a long time, been filled with excitement by the video game community, excited to see Kirby’s first complete 3D adventure. Looking back at how far the series has come – and how much blood, sweat and tears Hal Laboratories has shed – to get to this point makes the March 25 release a success above all else.

We just hope it turns out to be a delicious, satisfying treat and something you really enjoy – after all, that’s what Kirby deserves. Kirby and the Forgotten Land: The long and convoluted road to Kirby’s first full 3D game

Fry Electronics Team

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