This feature contains spoilers for Kirby and the Forgotten Land.
Lots of great games have been released this year – a quick look at Eurogamer’s Essential reviews over the last 12 months is proof of that. We had the monumental Elden Ring, the adorable Tunic (complete with its nostalgic instruction manual), and the oh-so-stylish Rollerdrome. Yes, 2022 has brought us some really brilliant games.
But for me, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the one that really stands above the rest. There’s a reason for that. The Forgotten Land was the first game I played with my kids from start to finish.
I’ll never forget the sheer emotion my two kids felt as we delivered our muddy, perfectly pink (and actually pretty epic) final punch during the game’s final confrontation. We were all on the edge of our seats as the final showdown with Fecto Elfilis began, but soon we were dancing around the conservatory in a slightly insane manner – hopping from foot to foot, Joy-Cons in hand, voicing loud anticipation and encouragement . Even the captain (our dog) picked up our energy and jumped on and off the sofa, adding a howl of appreciation here and there. To be honest, we must have looked like a pretty odd bunch to anyone peeping through the windows. It was a great fight.
But then, after using Kirby’s impressive Gulp Mode ability to inhale a Big Rig and knock our opponent down, we stopped this effusive nonsense and fell silent. Quiet, because despite the happy and colorful worlds we’d been immersed in since the beginning of our Forgotten Land playthrough, the ending was a surprisingly heartfelt and touching end to the adventure.
My two children, who had accompanied Kirby and Elfilin (a chinchilla-like creature that Kirby meets at the beginning of the game) on their journey, were suddenly faced with the prospect that these two friends could be separated forever – in the ultimate show by Love, Elfilin uses her powers to save Kirby’s world from destruction, seemingly sacrificing herself in the process.
A tear rolled down my daughter’s cheek. My son covered his mouth with his hands. My heart felt her feelings and I took her in a comforting hug. This was a beautiful and poignant moment that we not only shared with Kirby and the Waddle Dees, but also with each other.
(Before I make this sound too heavy, I should say that it soon turns out that Kirby and Elfilin are reunited. A rift is created between Kirby’s world and the New World where Elfilin lives, which means the denizens are coming and can go as they please. )
I now carry this memory in a very dear part of my being. We’ve since played through Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Return to Monkey Island, and Super Mario Odyssey together. It’s certainly been a joy to finish each of these games with my kids, but Kirby will always be special because it’s the game that started it all for us.
I know my kids are getting older, and curling up on the couch with their mom after school to play video games probably won’t always be their idea of a good time. But this year they loved it and they couldn’t wait to see what worlds awaited us next. I will always appreciate that. I hope they will too.