It took HAL and Nintendo literally decades to give Kirby a fully-3D adventure. It’s not like the developers weren’t trying, as they spent years working on the idea, tweaking the approach, and hitting various roadblocks along the way. Finally, Nintendo and HAL managed to overcome their struggles and release Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

To a development outsider, it might seem like bringing Kirby into the world of 3D would be just like any other 2D to 3D jump. Mario and Zelda did it years ago, so why was Kirby that much tougher? HAL Laboratory expert director Tatsuya Kamiyama spoke at GDC 2023 on the topic and explained exactly why Kirby presents a unique challenge in 3D gameplay.

“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 expert director Tatsuya Kamiyama]

As HAL has detailed before, they finally got around this issue by Kamiyama by helping players with their aim. Without the player knowing, Kirby and the Forgotten Land includes a mechanic that automatically target enemies if they meet certain criteria based on a points system. Each enemy is assigned a point value based on their proximity to Kirby, including which way Kirby is facing. Along with that, airborne homing attacks are stronger to account for the added challenge of aiming in the air.

The best part about all this is that everything feels just right when playing, and you never suspect there’s a complicated setup behind the scenes that’s helping you fight the good fight. All that matters is the end result, which is an experience that puts smiles on players’ faces.


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