Kirby and the Forgotten Land, released on March 25 for the Nintendo Switch, is the first Kirby game in the franchise to transition into full 3D. Typically, Kirby games are traditional 2D platform video games, mixed in with some “old-school” 2D boss fights. However, much like the Mario Bros. franchise, Nintendo likes to push the boundaries of its traditional franchises. Due to this constant, forward progression, HAL Laboratory’s general director, Shinya Kumazaki has told the Washington Post that 3D is not the new Kirby formula.
In an interview with the developers of Kirby and the Forgotten Land for the Washington Post, Kumazaki stated, “While a full 3D game is certainly a fresh new look for the Kirby franchise, it doesn’t necessarily mean this will be the standard going forward.” Furthermore, Kumazaki added,
Nintendo is on the same page as us, and this is something we talk about often. We hope to go beyond what is currently imaginable and challenge ourselves to create new and innovative Kirby games. This game was one of those challenges coming to fruition. We will continue to explore via trial and error and not just limit ourselves to 3D.
While the Kirby developers may not limit themselves to just 3D; however, the similarity between Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Super Mario 64 cannot be understated. Super Mario 64 was the first Mario Bros. game to fully embrace 3D, to much critical acclaim, catapulting the game into a cult-like fanbase. Subsequently, almost every Mario Bros. game after Super Mario 64 is 3D. However, the developers never limited themselves because in Super Mario Sunshine, the F.L.U.D.D. mechanic was introduced, and in the Super Mario Galaxy games, planetary orbits and propulsion was introduced as new movement mechanics as well. Lastly, Super Mario Odyssey introduced Cappy, a mechanic that allows Mario to turn into many things, much like Kirby’s inhale.
So, while the developers may not limit themselves to a 3D model, Kirby might remain 3D due to the early success of Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Not only does Kirby and the Forgotten Land have a 85% on Metacritic, but the game also became UK’s best-selling game. Additionally, Kirby and the Forgotten Land has only been released for 3 days, but it has already become the 5th best-selling Kirby game of all time. Due to this success, it is highly likely Kirby games may continue to be 3D due to the precedent of success and innovation seen when Mario games turned 3D.