Nintendo blessed us this week with a brand new look at Kirby and the Forgotten Land, confirming that it’s basically just 3D serotonin in a gross-tasting cartridge. As pure as it looks, diving deeper into the trailer reveals that it’s continuing one of Kirby - and Nintendo’s - worst trends. It’s getting co-op wrong yet again.
The latest trailer proudly boasts that the whole game can be played with a friend, before showing bloody Bandana Waddle Dee and his bloody helicopter spear. Look, I want the little fella to be in Smash as much as everyone else, but his appearance here is as much of a disappointment as accidentally sucking up a Noddy.
Bandana Waddle Dee being Kirby’s main ally in the Forgotten Land means that anyone who ends up being the second player is being cucked. That’s right, Kirby is literally cucking you. Instead of being able to suck up enemies and get their powers, being Bandanna Waddle Dee sticks you with a spear that can be chucked, poked, or helicoptered about, and that’s it.
Kirby is not a complex game, but its copy abilities and the multiple ways you can use them is what make them unique from everything else. It’s his whole thing and what Kirby fans look forward to seeing most in new entries, and often what they remember best about each game. Just look at how fondly Kirby and the Crystal Shards is looked upon, and that’s mainly down to how well it handled the series’ key feature.
What’s the other thing you remember from the Forgotten Land’s trailer? Don’t even pretend it’s the Kirby capsules, because we all know it’s seeing the pink puffball wield a gun. The long-standing meme has become a reality, and it’s something that only the first player is going to get a chance to mess around with because poor Bandana Waddle Dee is stuck in the stone ages with his sharp stick.
Kirby Star Allies players are likely having flashbacks that turn their knuckles white right now, as it had the exact same problem. Anyone who isn’t player one has to choose another character, which essentially just means having one copy ability for the whole game while your partner swaps back and forth whenever they like. At least you could play as some of the more unique Kirby characters in Star Allies and not just a slightly more interesting Goomba with a rod.
As a kid’s game, Kirby isn’t very complex. That’s one of its best features, but when you’re stuck with five moves and some incredibly floaty jumping, it gets boring fast. As someone who made a mate play Star Allies with me as the second player, I’ve seen the face of someone stuck playing with the Sword ability for an hour and it isn’t a happy one.
None of this would be an issue if it wasn’t established in earlier games that there can be multiple different Kirbys at once. I’m sure it’s down to prioritizing the single-player experience runs as smoothly as possible, but at that point there might as well not even be a cooperative mode. This isn't even to mention the fact that the Forgotten Land only supports couch co-op, which I'd love to see more of in games, but not at the cost of online support as well.
I wish I could say that this unfair co-op stance is exclusive to Kirby, but Nintendo does it pretty often. Want to play Mario Odyssey co-op? Heck yeah, of course you do, that game rocks. Oh, you mean I have to play Cappy and act as a mailman for Mario, getting to enjoy none of what makes Odyssey so much fun? Don’t all reach for the Joy-Con at once, lads. How about playing as Bowser Jr and slapping some enemies with paint in Bowser’s Fury? That’s what I thought.
Nintendo doesn’t have to make any of its games cooperative, but if they’re going to do it then they might as well put the effort in like they did with 3D World or New Super Mario Bros. As a younger brother and scrawnier friend to pretty much everyone I’ve ever met, I’ve spent most of my life as the second player and it’s a pretty grim existence of waiting around and watching everyone else do the important bit, something that looks set to continue in the Forgotten Land.
Well, not for me anyway, I’m old enough to buy my own controllers and refuse to play unless I’m Kirby.
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