Even though Kirby has been around for three decades, the series has never really dabbled in full 3D gameplay. That finally changed this year with the release of Kirby and the Forgotten Land. By all accounts, the team really pulled it off – but that doesn’t mean moving Kirby from 2D to 3D was a simple task.
Kirby and Forgotten Land co-directors Shinya Kumazaki and Tatsuya Kamiyama discussed the game’s development in a recent interview with the Japanese magazine. Nintendo Dream. Designer Yuki Endo was also present for the discussion.
Kamiyama mentioned that there was a feeling inside HAL that the team might not get another chance to work on another 3D game for a long time if Kirby and the Forgotten Land didn’t reach not the target. Endo also mentioned how, at least initially, “there were a lot of questionable voices within the company.” However, Kumazaki and Kamiyama pushed for 3D and HAL realized he would be able to push things forward after early development.
The translation of the interview excerpt by Nintendo Everything is below.
There must be a lot of pressure to get it right.
Kamiyama: For sure! There was definitely a lot of pressure that we couldn’t go wrong. There was a feeling that “if this doesn’t work out, it will be a long time before we get another chance to work with HAL Laboratory on another 3D game”, so we were so happy to have succeeded.
Kumazaki: Of course, our staff are still working diligently, but we truly recognized what a perfect opportunity this was. We felt we had all the skills to do it, we just needed a chance. The preparations that HAL Laboratory had made with games like Star Allies were complete and it all started with the feeling that this was something we were waiting to do!
Kamiyama: We started with a base of our collected 3D action experiences so far, including games like Kirby’s Blowout Blast on 3DS, and gained a real understanding as the director of that game. From those experiences, we knew that a large-scale development would be necessary and we were able to get a concrete idea of what it would look like. This in turn formed the basis for the development that was to follow.
Endo: When we started making the game, there were a lot of questionable voices within the company; ‘Is a Kirby 3D action game really something we can do?’. But among the voices of ‘Let’s also make the next game in 2D’, there were Kumazaki and Kamiyama who said ‘Let’s go in 3D!’. Thinking ‘Can we really do this?’, we made the first pictures and then I was able to understand for myself ‘Yes, we can!’. We made sure to keep that great feeling of knowing we can do it, at the forefront of our minds when making the rest of the game.
Endo-san, you were the level design director, what was the thought process behind creating the levels?
Endo: When I was suddenly confronted with the idea of making a 3D action game, I had no idea what would or wouldn’t be possible. So I started by thinking about how Kirby plays in 2D space and I considered those ways one by one and thought ‘If I did this 3D, what would it be like?’ But if we just took those 2D elements and made them 3D, nothing would really change, so instead we took each point one at a time and started beefing them up to make them work in 3D.
So it’s not just a question of transforming 2D into 3D?
Endo: Even though we were able to turn it into 3D, on top of that was the idea that maybe action games aren’t always viewed favorably right now. So while keeping the idea of completing 3D stages, we also created big stages to make a game where you could explore the world as you progress. By arranging the opening on a large stage, we were able to effectively convey the enjoyment of the full game.
Translation provided by Simon Griffin and centurionnugget on behalf of Nintendo Everything.