Kirby and the Forgotten Land's Sub-Games May be Part of the Main Adventure

The Nintendo Switch has been a kingmaker for previously undersung franchises. Titles like Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Luigi's Mansion 3, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Metroid Dread set record sales; Animal Crossing specifically beat out mainstay bestsellers like The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon according to numbers released by Nintendo's Investor Relations on September 30, 2021. Kirby got off to slower start with 2018's Kirby Star Allies, but appears to be heading for a surge with Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

First revealed during the September 2021 Nintendo Direct, Kirby and the Forgotten Land will be the pink puffball's first true 3D platformer. That initial teaser enticed many thanks to the game's post-apocalyptic setting, but a second trailer released January 12 dove a lot deeper into gameplay. New copy abilities like Ranger and Drill were shown off alongside returning fan favorites, and it was confirmed Forgotten Land will let people explore its diverse environments across a stage-based world map via two-player co-op. However, many were also drawn to side activities like Kirby fishing that may suggest HAL Laboratory is integrating its traditional sub-games into the main adventure.

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Kirby Sub-Games Have a Long History

The original Kirby's Dream Land on Game Boy was a standalone and simple adventure, but its follow-up Kirby's Adventure really set the stage for modern Kirby games. It introduced copy abilities, allowing Kirby to take advantage of various powers by absorbing his enemies, and also had the first set of sub-games. Kirby's Adventure presented sub-games as doors the protagonist could enter within each lobby that offered different gameplay than the typical sidescrolling stages. Perhaps the most recognizable sub-game in this title was Quick Draw, in which players have to press 'A' faster than their opponent to win cowboy stand-offs.

Quick Draw would return with a samurai-themed skin in both Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (a remake of Adventure) and Kirby Super Star, but it's just one of a few sub-games that fit the innocuous "time-waster" category. Super Star and its DS remake Super Star Ultra would also include sub-games like Megaton Punch that are about precision timing. Similar games like The Amazing Mirror's Speed Eaters, Return to Dream Land's Scope Shot, and Star Allies' Chop Champ appear throughout the series.

Some sub-games are extensions of the main adventure, including various takes on boss rush modes or the recurring Meta Knightmare mode that lets players run through the story as Meta Knight instead of Kirby. There are also interesting sub-games that act as tech demos for HAL Laboratory, often leading to more fleshed out spin-offs during the 3DS era. Kirby: Triple Deluxe's Dedede's Drum Dash and Kirby Fighters both received standalone titles, and Kirby Fighters 2 just released for Switch in 2020. Planet Robobot's Team Kirby Clash and Kirby 3D Rumble also got full spin-offs, with the latter being a puzzler take on how Kirby could play in 3D.

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How Kirby and the Forgotten Land Might Integrate Sub-Games

It's certainly possible that Kirby and the Forgotten Land will follow tradition and have a set of sub-games available to play on the main menu beyond its story. However, the January 12 trailer appears to hint at a more copacetic blend between the two. Fans now know Kirby's goal will be saving Waddle Dees from the villainous Beast Pack, and it appears everyone he saves will return to a village hub area that Kirby can explore between stages.

Kirby can be seen taking part in various minigames throughout the trailer, at one point having to give Waddle Dees the appropriate item at a restaurant while under a time limit. He also goes fishing and can unlock collectibles via gashapon balls. A few additional buildings can be spotted in the town, such as a movie theater and post office, many of which will likely be menu options contextualized in-game; such as the movie theater being a place where players can watch cinematic cutscenes again.

If that is the case, it would make sense that activities such as feeding Waddle Dees will also be Kirby and the Forgotten Land's equivalent of sub-games like Quick Draw. Making sub-games a part of the game's main adventure, perhaps reliant on Kirby rescuing more Waddle Dees to increase difficulty, may take away the opportunity for experiments like Kirby Fighters. However, it would be an admirable way of ingraining a series staple into a fleshed-out world, which would be beneficial for a game that looks as fresh as Forgotten Land.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land launches March 25, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

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Jason Rochlin (1460 Articles Published)

Jason learned to read playing Pokemon Crystal on the Game Boy Color, and hasn't looked back. He received a Journalism degree at California State University, Fullerton while working on news coverage and investigative content for its paper, and came to Game Rant soon after graduating. Nintendo games are his primary wheelhouse, but he'll try most anything once.

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