This is the 17th mainline installment in the Kirby series and let me tell you it may just be the best yet too!
Throw in the fact this is also the first mainline game in the series in full 3D - excluding spin-offs - and we are entering seriously triple A territory here.
The game was developed by HAL Laboratory for the 30th anniversary of the Kirby series. And let’s just say they have not let Nintendo down.
The player controls Kirby in an adventure through the titular forgotten land, called the New World, to rescue Waddle Dees kidnapped by the ferocious Beast Pack. To complete each stage to save the Waddle Dees, Kirby can use a wide range of copy abilities to help battle enemies and progress.
And that’s where the fun starts!
There is a soft training-style stage to start which will have newbies and hardcore Kirby fanboys and girls au fait with the simple and intuitive controls in no time at all.
Kirby can jump and slide as well as inhale enemies and objects which he can either spit out like projectiles or swallow to gain a copy ability. Kirby fans will be aware of those copy abilities but this time there are two new copy abilities in the form of Drill and Ranger as well as an upgrade system and the all new and game-changing "Mouthful Mode”.
This is the part of the game which had people excited prior to release and it really does deliver! Kirby can now swallow and control larger objects, such as cars and vending machines similar to Kirby Battle Royale and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.
A second player can join in and play as Bandana Waddle Dee, who uses a spear as his main form of attack.
The goal of each stage is to rescue the Waddle Dees at the end of the level. Once rescued, they are returned to Waddle Dee Town, the main hub of the game. As you rescue more Waddle Dees, the town size increases as well as unlocking minigames.
Mouthful Mode is not just a humorous gimmick but ridiculously fun and vital to the brilliant level design in Kirby ATFL.
The copy abilities honestly feel more influential, meaningful and integral to the game than I can ever remember.
As you progress you will have to revisit levels to achieve the secret goals within them. In most games that would be seen as a grind but it is quite simply a joy to go back in and try to tick each of the mission boxes.
Side missions are excellent too giving you lots of opportunity to use Kirby’s skills to the fullest.
I have seriously struggled to find anything bad to say about this cast iron 2022 Game of the Year contender besides perhaps some repetition when it comes to mini bosses.
Going fully 3D was a massive risk for Nintendo but my how it has paid off.
Everything we love about Kirby is mashed together here in a delightful medley of ability-based combat, platforming and secret hunting wrapped in the unmistakable Nintendo charm.