This article contains story and ability spoilers for Kirby and the Forgotten Land, so beware if you’re a fan of that cosmic Kirby lore.
The mad pink lad is back at it exploring the dilapidated ruins of a lost civilization, and this time Kirby has a new infamous ability: Mouthful Mode. Kirby and the Forgotten Land allows our blobby friend to borrow the power of sizable, inanimate objects in addition to standard enemies. It’s an amusing mechanic that shakes up your perception and keeps the floaty adventure fresh from start to finish. Mouthful Mode can switch the genre from platformer to racing game, encourage you to look at a stage bird’s-eye view instead of horizontally, and even serve as the solution to a difficult boss battle.
I’ve been a fan of the orb since I was a wee child, and I’m loving how the mysteries of Mouthful Mode ignite Kirby and the Forgotten Land into a fiery statement that says, “Kirby is back, baby!” It’s obvious that a lot of care went into the game’s creation, and since some modes are definitely better than others, I took it upon myself to C̸͕̙̰̿͝͠ǒ̶̢̅̆ǹ̴̡̛͓͔̇s̶̭̥̥̀͂ṳ̷̢̯̾̿m̶͖̼̬͆è̷̹̽͠ͅ ̴̘͆E̴͍̊̇͂v̴̢̌̈̌e̷͕̫͐r̵͙͈͑͠y̵̬̐t̸̨̜̝̀̊̓h̷̠̱͝ì̸̖̟͇n̷͈̫̱̾͂ġ̴̻̆ and rank every single Mouthful Mode from Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Scroll your heart out to discover which strange and wonderful version of modern game art made it to the top of our list.
Light Bulb Mouth
The weakest of the litter, Light Bulb Mouth swaps out swift, jubilant platforming for slow movement, light horror elements. You find light bulbs in poorly lit rooms that bait you into falling off fake staircases like a fool while being chased by ghosts. Kirby looks ridiculous when he takes this form and waddles around. While that brings some charm, these sections are Mouthful Mode at its weakest, becoming more of a nuisance than a gameplay innovation. It gives Luigi’s Mansion, which stomps on the grassy, natural vibes that the opening area puts a lot of work into cultivating.
Just like the ending of The Truman Show, Kirby can walk up the stairs and learn something new about himself by gaining hard-to-reach collectibles. With Stairs Mouth, you can waddle around, ascend to high places, and squish strong enemies with the click of a button. If you’re a completionist trying to save every Waddle Dee and get every Gotcha capsule, then Stair Mouth will be your best friend. The downside is how slowly you move as stairs and how easy it is to get hit by literally anything. All around a solid Mouthful Mode, though, by virtue of you being stairs that you can walk up later.
Cone Mouth is the most painful-looking Mouthful Mode. Like, ouch, it’s poking right through his head. It’s also an extremely aggressive ability that launches you up in the sky before slamming you down to pierce into the ground. You can use it to cause rusty pipes to burst and propel you up with a ladder of water. It can actually crush those seemingly indestructible concrete turtles. It’s a decent power that shines in its compact challenge rooms. Also, Kirby, you know you don’t have to do this, right? We all think you’re cool without the Cone.
Storage Mouth + Bolted Storage Mouth
Storage Mouth kills me because it is the least engaging part of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, but it is also one of the funniest. When you see a storage cabinet blocking a potential passageway, you can glomp onto it and gain the awe-inspiring ability to press down on the Joycon and slowly tip over. And if the Storage container is bolted, well, it’s going to take longer.
This is a maximalist game, with Kirby frequently swallowing abilities on top of abilities to gain a leg-up during his scuffles with packs of superpowered beasts. So when you enter Storage Mouth, that simple “Press down to fall over” causes it all to slow down for a moment. Your worries are gone; it has all become peaceful. You’re one with the Storage unit and it will all be okay.
Scissors Lift Mouth
An unassuming mouthful, Scissors Lift Mouth is a real fun, on-the-rails time. When you latch onto this industrial device, you can move left or right and extend up or retract down. Whenever this ability is in a level (and specific challenge zones), the stage design focuses on dodging, spacing, and time-specific choices. One time, I was going Scissors Mouth mode while collecting gems when I had to dodge supercharged cannonballs as the floor started crumbling underneath me. It was truly chaos in the best and most challenging way. It’s a noticeable shift in pace from the other, easier parts of Kirby and the Forgotten Land that delivers some memorable moments.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane! No, it’s a blob. Arch Mouth accompanies the flying and gliding sections, which are reminiscent of riding Plessie in Super Mario 3D World. These breezy chunks are sprinkled with rings and hidden Waddle Dees, Star Coins, and other collectibles. For the most part, Arch Mouth carries on the carefree trend of Storage Mouth. However, it manages to always be a stressful flight during the last evil, molten stages. Also, if you’re playing co-op, the person who plays Bandana Waddle Dee latches onto the side while you’re gliding. It is a very cute time.
Pipe Mouth inspires the kind of goofy Hanna-Barbera situations the body craves. When you turn into a pipe, you usually start rolling down a hill, dodging spikes and pitfall drops while your speed increases with the slope. I always feel like I know what will happen when I enter these areas, but they catch me by surprise with their weird turns or hidden Waddle Dee placements. Even with a keen eye, the speed of these sections makes it hard to catch every tidbit on the first tumble down. I often found myself walking right back up and rolling again like a pink and spherical Sisyphus to find every Easter Egg.
How can something be both guided and disorderly? Ask Coaster Mouth. Early on in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, you enter an amusement park and get the first opportunity to try out the roller coaster. Now, I’m not a coaster enjoyer in real life due to my fear of heights, but dang is this fun to play. Coaster Mouth is a banger because it’s definitely one of the speediest Mouthful Modes, as if the disgruntled teen who manages the coaster put it on turbo and then left to get a soda. One of my favorite parts in the later areas is a bonus mission when you’re expected to hit a bunch of ill-set buttons on the walls to unlock your Dreamland friends from jail. It’s a theme that keeps coming up, but I love that this fairly light game has surprising difficulty curves in its recesses.
I don’t have much to say about this one. Just look at this form. A+ Kirby.
Surprisingly, this is one of the most useful Mouthful Modes in Kirby and the Forgotten Land and pops up much more frequently than others on this list. When you pop into Ring mode, which makes Kirby look like he is about to eat forbidden Lifesavers, you gain the ability to shoot out air. Initially, you can only use this power to knock away enemies, but then it slowly builds onto itself with windmill puzzles and wind sailing on the back of a boat. Those little additions pile on in the same way that mechanics do in Super Mario Odyssey, another 3D Nintendo platformer that emits a warm and fuzzy feeling.
As Charli XCX says: “Let’s Ride.” (She wrote that song about Carby).
Car Mouth is a staple for Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and it whips. It’s one of those features that you can tell the developers are really fond of because they’ve included a lot of fleshed out driving sections. Take the Circuit Speedway, for example: It stands out from the other levels’ design because it’s seriously just multiple racetracks and a tiny bit of walking in-between. They committed a whole main level to this Mouthful Mode, which is something they don’t do for any others.
Circuit Speedway is simultaneously so fun and frustrating. There’s a special hidden mission that frees a Waddle Dee if you get to the first finish line in less than 20 seconds, but this feels like the most impossible task in the world. My partner and I each took turns planning out our racing lines, shedding frames on corners, and dodging the hitstun from Bronto Burts, but it was all for naught. 20.77 was my fastest score. Neither of us made it under 20 to free that Waddle Dee; some say it’s still in that cage to this day.
This one’s hilarious. Vending Mouth lets you shoot out what feels like infinite cans to break down walls and crush all your foes. The best part is that, when the cans of soda ricochet off of a wall and land in front of you, you can actually pick them up and drink them to restore health! Since you have 100 to 300 cans per machine, that means you’re staying healthy for a while. This works with co-op too, so if Bandana Waddle Dee sees a can, they can pick it up, drink it, and kiss you to share the health benefits of that juice.
Water Balloon Mouth
With Water Balloon Mouth, homie is a one-blob, jiggling fire-fighting team. You can enter this mode by finding a leaking pipe in the wild and drinking all of its water. After filling up, you grow in size and can shoot out water like a hose to clear out poisonous sludge and molten lava — two common hazards in Kirby and the Forgotten Land. This Mouthful Mode throws me back to using F.L.U.D.D. on the beach in Super Mario Sunshine, just being a good citizen and cleaning up the mess that others have left behind. Good for Kirby!
Big Rig Mouth
Wow. Kirby and the Forgotten Land feints four times before giving you the true ending of Kirby and his best friend Elfilin hopping in a giant, super-saiyan Big Rig and high-speed drifting on top of a cosmic plain of severed skyscrapers to defeat Fecto Forgo. The pacing, fights, and buildup to this Mouthful Mode compose a sweet song of an ending that I cannot get out of my head. I absolutely love how hard Kirby and the Forgotten Land leans into its creepy, cosmic horror plot elements in the last act. In the last moments, it switches genres into an over-the-top, truck shonen and goes out with an unforgettable bang. What a sweet, floaty, unafraid-to-be-freaky video game.