Kirby and the Forgotten Land dev on why it took so long for a 3D Kirby game
Posted on March 25, 2023 by Brian(@NE_Brian) in News, Switch
Kirby finally went 3D with Kirby and the Forgotten Land last year, and according to director Tatsuya Kamiyama, a big reason why it took so long to happen is due to the character’s pink sphere shape. Kamiyama explained why this was such a big obstacle during a session at GDC 2023 this week.
“When you rotate a sphere, you can’t really tell that it’s being rotated. Kirby has a simple, spherical design, so it’s difficult to tell which way Kirby is facing when seen from behind. For Kirby’s ranged attacks, it’s a significant issue if the player even slightly misjudges which way the character is facing. Kirby attacks by inhaling enemies and spitting them out. For this reason, if you miss, you have to look for another enemy to inhale, which is very frustrating.”
HAL Laboratory wanted to ensure that anyone would be able to have a good time with Kirby and the Forgotten Land. To that end, the team implemented a feature that most are probably unaware of. Interestingly, Kirby’s ranged attacks automatically target enemies if they meet certain criteria based on a points system.
As relayed by IGN, here’s how it works:
Enemies are assigned points if they’re already roughly in the direction Kirby’s facing (so Kirby obviously can’t hit enemies that are directly behind him, for instance), and receive more points if the enemy is dangerously close to Kirby, or important in some way (such as a boss). Additionally, attacks while Kirby is on the ground won’t target on airborne enemies, but airborne homing is stronger to account for how hard it can be to aim while in the air.
We should mention that Kirby and the Forgotten Land doesn’t have anything like auto-aiming. HAL Laboratory wanted to include this as a way to help players, but wanted to make sure they still had an actual reason to aim. Most of the homing happens during the first frame of the attack, and according to IGN, “then significantly drops as the attack continues.” Depth corrections are also in place such as when Kirby attempts to hit an enemy that seems to be next to him, but is actually a bit behind or forward.
Something else touched on during the GDC session is that Kirby and the Forgotten Land uses a fixed camera system to assist new players. This let the development team implement different ideas like stopping its movement short to hint to players which areas are out of bounds and placing it off-center to focus on important gameplay objects or obstacles in the levels.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is now available on Switch.