Since Kirby’s debut in 1992, most of its games have started out cute and cuddly to reveal a few. monstrous, lovecraftian horror at their conclusion. It’s a often granny model that we expect from each installment. But the last outing of the pink puffball, Kirby and the Forgotten Landstill managed to lull me into a false sense of security before ripping off his adorable veneer, and I think that should be talked about.
As usual, I’m going to insert a big ugly graphic before I get to the good stuff for those of you who inexplicably clicked on a story about Kirby and the Forgotten Landends while fearing that his ending will be ruined. I’m sure it’s only a handful of people, but seriously, what the hell are you doing here? Go finish the game and come back later, you confuse people.
It is clear from the start that Kirby and the Forgotten Land has sinister underpinnings. Our eponymous protagonist is torn from his reality in a different dimension by a tear in the fabric of spacetime, which spits him unceremoniously back into a world that has endured some sort of earth-shattering apocalypse.
Still, the strength of Kirby’s kindness is enough to make even abandoned malls and derelict oil rigs seem happy, and you soon stop worrying about the unknown tragedy that made them so.
Kirby’s main focus throughout forgotten land is to save the captured Waddle Dees who were pulled through the wormhole with him, but it’s not until the end of the game that you’ll find out why the animals that now rule the post-apocalyptic world want them. It turns out hundreds of Kirby’s friends are being used to power a science facility on hamster wheel-like contraptions.
Upon entering the lab, a cheery recording explains over the facility’s intercom that it was built to house ID-F86, an “ultimate life form” from off-planet who invaded the world forgotten land long before the events of the game.
“From the moment ID-F86 arrived on our planet, it began a campaign of destruction that threatened native wildlife throughout our world,” the voiceover says. “Fortunately, our research team managed to capture it before it could complete its invasion. Once it was contained, our lab began to study ID-F86’s spatial teleportation ability, research that laid the foundation for the planetary warp technology we enjoy today.
The narrator then becomes more serious, detailing a disturbing “warp experiment incident” that saw ID-F86 become inactive. It is here that Kirby meets the leader of the animals who gathered his friends, a gigantic lion named Leongar. Another explanatory dialogue reveals that the inhabitants of forgotten landused ID-F86’s powers to enter a “dreamland”, leaving all wildlife behind. Thus, Leongar and his followers hope to awaken the alien and find the people who abandoned them.
It goes without saying that a fight ensues. Kirby defeats Leongar, only to see the lion monarch possessed by the seemingly docile ID-F86. Again, the pink puffball wins, sending Leongar crashing into ID-F86’s holding cell and inadvertently releasing the captured monster. His plans ruined, ID-F86 fully awakens and curses Kirby for his interference before proclaiming “EVERYTHING.” MUST BE. CONSUMES. And then he does just that, devouring Leongar and several animals that had rushed to the king’s aid to become, well, this:
Yes, one of the last bosses of Kirby and the Forgotten Land is basically The thing.
Where the squishy Fecto Forgo falls on the spectrum of “scary Kirby shit” depends on your own tolerance for blood-chilling monstrosities, of course. But I think we can all agree that this unholy fusion is just as gruesome as the body horror of The mouth of King Dedede’s stomach in 1997 Kirby’s Dreamland 3 or the Biblically accurate, “fear not” ass angel boss pending in the late 2000s Kirby Chapter 64: Crystal Shards.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is everything I want from the franchise, with a cold platform and some surprising challenges for those unhappy with said cold platform. And the story, though bare, culminates in a satisfying shift from cute to hideous, like all Kirby games should, without veering into the overworked creepypasta nonsense of a Eversion or one pony island.
Plus, seeing Kirby take on these enemies really makes you respect his mental toughness. Could other Nintendo heroes like Mario or Link face the same horrors and walk away smiling? I do not think so.