Nintendo's trend of reinvigorating its older franchises continues with Kirby and the Forgotten Land, but it should definitely not stop there.
Nintendo is known for iconic franchises like The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, and Kirby, all of which have been around for decades. Throughout the current console generation of the Nintendo Switch, the developer has been following a trend of breathing new life into these decades' old series. This not only brings back old fans looking for something new and exciting, but ropes in plenty of new ones as well.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the most recent game to undergo this treatment. Just the fact that it is a 3D platformer is a huge departure from the traditionally 2D series, but there are tons of other changes to be excited about. Kirby and the Forgotten Land should not be the last series that Nintendo reinvents, though, as there are many series just as old that are deserving of more love and attention.GAMERANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
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Nintendo's Knack for Reinvention
The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario series are two of the most beloved gaming franchises out there, but there is only a certain number of times that one can play through another port of an older Zelda game, or the next New Super Mario Bros. game. Nintendo was quick to realize this, as with the release of the Nintendo Switch, both series' fundamentals were turned on their heads.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released as a Switch launch title back in 2017 and completely changed the Zelda formula. For the first time in gaming, the game's world felt truly open. Players were able to explore the world at their own pace, following any route, all while maintaining the typical charm of a Zelda game. Five years later, Breath of the Wild's influence is still felt in many games— the most recent being Elden Ring, which adopts a very similar philosophy for its massive world. It is interesting to see how Breath of the Wild's sequel will expand on this, given the knowledge that Link will be able to venture into the sky.
Super Mario Odyssey takes a similar approach, and gives the player more freedom than any past Mario game. Each level feels like a jungle gym, filled to the brim with things for Mario to play with. Not only can players collect any given kingdom's Power Moons in any order, but each Moon can also be obtained in numerous ways given the player's skill over the game's movement options. Super Mario Odyssey is the true next step for the Mario franchise, and if the bite-sized Bowser's Fury from 2021 is any indication, the next main game will be fully open and even more impressive.
Besides these two games, Nintendo has perfected some other series on the Switch. Both Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe serve as compendiums for their respective series. Even now, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is getting new DLC, consisting of tracks from previous entries in the series. Though not developed directly by Nintendo, even Pokemon completely changed its stagnant gameplay formula with Pokemon Legends: Arceus. This trend has been pumping out success after success, and is continuing on with everyone's favorite pink puffball, Kirby.
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Kirby and the Forgotten Land's Changes to the Formula
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a huge jump for the Kirby franchise. The fact that this is the first time Kirby stars in a 3D platformer is exciting on its own— fans have wanted this since supposed "leaks" of a 3D Kirby game circled around during the GameCube era. The game has plenty more changes to help cement it as the next step for the 30-year-old series, though.
One of these additions is Kirby and the Forgotten Land's mouthful mode. Similar to captures in Super Mario Odyssey, mouthful mode allows Kirby to suck up and take control of regular, real-world objects. This includes a car, which allows Kirby to quickly zoom across the stages, and a traffic cone that grants the ability to ground pound.
Players can now upgrade Kirby's copy abilities as well, marking another new change to a series staple. These not only cosmetically change Kirby's abilities, but they gain more complicated movesets that all feel vastly different from the original. Players can experience a sliver of these changes in Kirby and the Forgotten Land's demo before the game releases, and judging from it, this game is shaping up to be Kirby's 'Mario Odyssey' or 'Breath of the Wild' moment.
Nintendo's Franchises in Need of Something New
Kirby and the Forgotten Land represents Nintendo's most recent series to receive a dramatic overhaul, but it should most certainly not be the last. Nintendo is unique in that it has many beloved series that are anywhere from 20 to 30 years old, though most can do with freshening up. Take a new Donkey Kong game, for instance. Donkey Kong Country Returns, as well as its sequel, Tropical Freeze, are two amazing 2D platformers, albeit a bit similar to one another. A new take on a 3D Donkey Kong game could do wonders for the series, and hopefully be more indicative of the series' great gameplay than Donkey Kong 64.
From the days of the NES, Nintendo has always been known for its ability to create unmatched gameplay. This knowledge is clearly alive and well, as new gameplay additions feel right at home in Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land. It is certainly an exciting time to be a Nintendo fan, if only to see what old series it reinvigorates next.
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