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A variation of the current logo for the Kirby series
|Original release||April 27, 1992|
The Kirby (星のカービィ Hoshi no Kābī?, lit. "Kirby of the Stars") series is a fantasy video game series developed by HAL Laboratory and Nintendo, and produced by Nintendo. The gameplay of a majority of the games in the series consists mainly of action, platform and puzzle-solving elements. The series is known for its bright and artistic settings; simplistic gameplay; cute characters; upbeat, cheerful music; and the protagonist's in-game ability to inhale enemies, thereby gaining a characteristic ability from them. Currently, the Kirby series includes a total of over twenty games, and has sold over 30 million units worldwide.
All of the games in the Kirby series feature a pink spherical creature named Kirby as the main playable character and protagonist. Kirby frequently saves the world he resides in from various powerful antagonists, the most recurring one being King Dedede, the self-proclaimed ruler of Dream Land (a region of Pop Star). King Dedede has appeared in every Kirby game except for Kirby & the Amazing Mirror. Another major character of the series is the enigmatic Meta Knight, a chivalrous warrior who often assists Kirby, but, depending on his intentions, will fight against Kirby to get things as he desires.
The games' fantasy world of Pop Star includes many regions of different climates and terrains, which are home to many different creatures. Each game features uniquely named areas, but all games feature typical locations such as fiery caverns, open meadows, water-filled or submerged areas, icy mountains, and similar nature-based places. Most games in the series also contain a castle, which more often than not belongs to King Dedede.
The main Kirby games feature a mixture of basic side-scrolling platform gameplay, unique puzzles, and a number of hidden items that either unlock more parts to the game or are simple incentives to collect, and are usually required to collect to achieve a 100% completion rate in the game. These elements have remained constant throughout most the series, with each game having its own unique twist to affect gameplay. There are also several unique "side" games in the series, which involve a variety of different gaming genres such as pinball, puzzle, racing, even a game based on motion-sensor technology. A number of these side games take advantage of Kirby's unique ball-like appearance.
Nearly every platform Kirby game involves traversing through a number of areas, each containing around one to six stages, and defeating the boss enemy of each area along the way. Kirby's signature method of dispatching enemies found in the stages is by using his ability of inhaling with extreme power, literally sucking the enemies into his mouth. If Kirby inhales and eats the correct enemy, he can acquire a special ability from them, which he can then use to attack further enemies. Each of these abilities are unique, such as breathing fire, wielding a sword, launching sparks in every direction, or attacking enemies with direct hand-to-hand combat.
In the platform games, several of the bosses have a special item, which must be taken from them by defeating them. These special items usually relate to the final boss of the game, most often used to create a special weapon required to defeat it. In some games, the special weapon is optional and can be used in the game regularly after defeating the final boss with it.
While a traditional Kirby game can be called a side-scrolling platform game, it cannot really be called a traditional platformer. One of the things that sets a Kirby game apart from most of them is Kirby's ability to inflate and fly for as long as he likes—however, in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, he can get tired after a while. Like a stereotypical platform game character, Kirby can also land on his enemies to attack them—though, unlike most of them, Kirby must fall from an appropriate altitude to do this.
The first game in the Kirby series, Kirby's Dream Land, was released in Japan in April 1992 and later in the United States in August that year. A simple game, consisting of only five levels, it introduced the main protagonist Kirby, main antagonist King Dedede, and Kirby's ability to inhale enemies and objects. The game features a second adventure, known as the "Extra Game", which features stronger enemies. The North American box art showed a white Kirby, although the Japanese box art had the correct pink coloring.
The second game, Kirby's Adventure, was first released in the U.S. in May 1993. Kirby's Adventure introduced the concept of 'copying' the abilities of enemies, and as one of the last games created for the Nintendo Entertainment System, featured astonishing graphics and sound that pushed the hardware's capabilities to the limit. It was re-released in 2002 on the Game Boy Advance, retitled as Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, featuring greatly updated graphics and sound.
After Kirby's Adventure, the Kirby series received a number of "side" games. Kirby's Pinball Land, released in November 1993, is a pinball game featuring Kirby as the pinball. Kirby's Dream Course, released in the U.S. in February 1995, is a unique golf-based game which features an isometric graphic design. Kirby's Avalanche, released in February 1995 only in the U.S. and Europe, is a puzzle game known to be a cloned version of the Japanese game Puyo Puyo.
Kirby's Dream Land 2, released in Japan and the U.S. in March 1995, continued using the ability-copying idea first featured in Kirby's Adventure, but lowered the number of abilities to seven. The game introduced three animal companions: Rick the Hamster, Coo the Owl, and Kine the Ocean Sunfish. Pairing up with any of these three alters how Kirby's abilities work. Also introduced was Gooey, a dark-colored blob-like creature, who could be found in a bag. The game was to be remade for the Game Boy Color as Kirby's Dream Land 2 DX, but was cancelled.
Kirby Super Star, known as Hoshi no Kirby Super Deluxe in Japan and Kirby's Fun Pak in Europe, was released in the U.S. in September 1996. Kirby Super Star is composed of eight separate games, and features several characters and abilities which have not appeared since in the series. The game features "Helpers", which can be created by sacrificing the ability currently in use, to help the player dispatch enemies.
In 1996, a Kirby mini-game series entitled Kirby's Toy Box (カービィのおもちゃ箱 Kabii no Omocha Hako?) was released via the St.GIGA satellite broadcasting system for the Nintendo Satellaview. These mini-games were not released simultaneously but were each given a unique broadcast date. Mini-game titles included: Arrange Ball, Ball Rally, Baseball, Cannonball, Guru Guru Ball, Hoshi Kuzushi, Pachinko, and Pinball.
Released in 1997, Kirby's Star Stacker is a puzzle game which involves touching two or more similar blocks together that have Kirby's animal friends on them. The game received a sequel on the Super Famicom in 1998 in Japan as Kirby no Kirakira Kizzu.
Kirby's Dream Land 3, released in November 1997 in the U.S., is a direct sequel to Kirby's Dream Land 2, as it features the return of Rick, Coo and Kine, as well as the introduction of Nago the Cat, Pitch the Bird and Chuchu the Blob. Similar to Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby's Dream Land 3 features a few copy abilities which are modified when Kirby pairs up with one of his now six animal friends. Also reintroduced was Gooey, who can now be played as a second character. Kirby's Dream Land 3 was originally released to be Game Boy, but was crashed and re-released to be Super Nintendo due to ending problems.[clarification needed]
The first game to have 3D graphics in the Kirby series, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, was released on the Nintendo 64 in the U.S. in June 2000. The game features a unique compound ability system that allows two of the seven abilities in the game to be merged, making a new compound ability.
The next game in the Kirby series, Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble became one of Nintendo's first motion-sensor-based games in August 2000. Players are instructed to tilt the Game Boy Color to move Kirby on the screen. Quickly flicking the Game Boy Color upwards would make Kirby jump into the air. Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble is currently the only Kirby game to have a special cartridge color (transparent pink) in the U.S.
The only Kirby game for the Nintendo GameCube, Kirby Air Ride, was released in the U.S. in October 2003. It is a racing game which deviates greatly from usual Kirby titles, although still featuring series staples including enemies and copy abilities.
Kirby & the Amazing Mirror was released in October 2004 on the Game Boy Advance. It is the second game released on that system, following Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land. It features Kirby in a maze format, unique to the series. Also unique was the in-game phone, which can be used to summon up to three additional copies of Kirby to fight enemies and solve puzzles.
The next game in the series is Kirby: Canvas Curse, released on the Nintendo DS in Japan on March 24, 2005, North America on June 13, 2005, Europe on November 25, 2005, and Australia on April 6, 2006. Unlike most previous Kirby games, the player does not directly control Kirby with a directional pad, analog stick, face buttons, or shoulder buttons. Instead, Kirby is a helpless ball, and can only move when he gains momentum, the player painting paths with the stylus to direct his movement.
This was followed by Kirby: Squeak Squad in late 2006, also on the Nintendo DS, which revived traditional Kirby gameplay and dabbled in the use of the touch screen to store several items and copy abilities in Kirby's stomach.
An untitled Kirby platform game originally planned to be released on the Nintendo GameCube was thought to be canceled for some time before being re-announced for the Wii. Although Kirby's Epic Yarn was announced and released for the Wii in 2010, it was actually an entirely different project from the untitled game, which, in January 2011, finally resurfaced with an altered design and motif. Kirby's Epic Yarn began development as an original title by Good-Feel called Fluff of Yarn, but was given the Kirby license at Nintendo's proposal.
Kirby Super Star Ultra, announced for the Nintendo DS in early fall 2007 and released on September 22, 2008 in North America, is a remake of Kirby Super Star. In addition to the nine games from Kirby Super Star, seven new games have been added. It features updated graphics, pre-rendered cutscenes, and a map on the touch screen.
A fourth game for the DS was released in North America on September 19, 2011, titled Kirby Mass Attack. The game features multiple copies of Kirby in touch screen-based gameplay reminiscent of titles such as Lemmings.
The aforementioned GameCube game, Kirby's Return to Dream Land (tentatively titled Kirby Wii) was finally released on Wii in North America on October 24, 2011, returning to the traditional Kirby gameplay and allowing up to four players to play simultaneously as Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede and Waddle Dee.
An anthology disc for the Wii called Kirby's Dream Collection was released on July 19, 2012 in Japan and was released on September 16, 2012 in North America to celebrate Kirby's 20th Anniversary. It includes six games from the early history of the series, which are Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby's Adventure, Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. It also has new Challenge Stages that run on the engine of Kirby's Return to Dream Land (known in Europe and Australia as Kirby's Adventure Wii), and a Kirby history section, which includes three episodes from Hoshi no Kirby (Kirby: Right Back at Ya! in North America). Similarly to the Super Mario 25th Anniversary packaging in 2010, a booklet and a soundtrack containing music from the various games in the series are released alongside the disc.
The Kirby series has developed a considerably large universe over its many releases. The setting of the games was originally Dream Land, which was revealed to be a part of the planet Pop Star in Kirby Super Star. Kirby’s adventures went on a planetary scale in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, where Kirby and friends visited other similarly named planets in the galaxy Pop Star belongs to while collecting the shards of a crystal that Dark Matter had shattered. Kirby also visits nearby planets in Milky Way Wishes, one of Kirby Super Star's subgames. However, these planets have yet to appear again, as all of Kirby's further adventures have occurred entirely on Pop Star. (Except for in Kirby's Epic Yarn, in which the majority of the game takes place in Patch Land.)
According to Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Pop Star looks like a star-shaped (not a ball) with five points. It has two rings moving up and down and pulses every second.
Nature of the protagonist
Kirby is a small, pink, spherical creature with large red shoes (Or feet), stubby flap-like arms and trademark pink cheek-blushes. His body is soft and flexible, allowing him to be flattened. He is referred to as male in the animated series, and is roughly 8 inches tall. He is from the planet Pop Star, where he lives in a domed house in Dream Land. His appearance has changed subtly over the years, becoming more rounded and defined, mainly in his face and larger eyes. The new design has been used in all subsequent games.
Kirby does not commonly speak, mainly only saying "hi" in such games as Super Smash Bros., Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, and speaking in the stories written in some games' instruction manuals. He rarely speaks in-game, the only exception being Kirby's Avalanche. He narrates the functions of Copy Abilities on the start menu in Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror and Kirby: Squeak Squad. Most in-game talking Kirby does is in Kirby's Star Stacker, where Kirby explains the game's rules and gameplay. Kirby has dialogue in Kirby's Epic Yarn, but it is all spoken through the game's narrator.
The Kirby series was made into an anime on October 6, 2001, originally titled Hoshi no Kaabii, which was produced by Warpstar Inc., a company formed between a joint investment between Nintendo and HAL Laboratory, Inc. It was licensed in North America by 4Kids Entertainment, under the title Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, on 4Kids TV, and was distributed by 20th Century Fox, Nelvana Limited, and HAL Laboratory, Inc. It ended in Japan in 2003 with 100 episodes.
The show is about the adventures Kirby has with his friends after he crash lands in Dream Land, on Pop Star. He is a legendary Star Warrior destined to save the planet from destruction by the evil Nightmare. The ruler of Dream Land, King Dedede, orders monsters from Nightmare's company, Nightmare Enterprises, to attack Kirby and the people of Dream Land. The show is based on the game series (especially Kirby's Adventure), using characters and concepts, rather than completely copying any of the games.
Comics and manga
Kirby stars in several manga series, none of which have been released outside Japan yet. The longest running series is Kirby of the Stars (a rough English translation of Hoshi no Kirby), written by Hirokazu Hikawa. This series was announced for a release in America by VIZ Media, but was never actually released.
Kirby also appears in several German comics, featuring him as a detective and King Dedede as his friend. His animal friends also appear in the German comics as pets of a female Kirby look-alike with red glass slippers. In one comic, he meets Lolo, Lala, and Lulu, the protagonists of the Adventures of Lolo series. The German comics were meant to let German Kirby fans know of Kirby games which would be released there.
In the lifetime of the Kirby series, several video games have been in development that, for various reasons, were ultimately abandoned. Such titles include Kirby's Air Ride 64 (also known as Kirby Bowl 64) on the Nintendo 64, the former eventually being released on the Nintendo GameCube as Kirby Air Ride).
Kirby's Tilt 'n' Tumble 2 on the Nintendo GameCube, which was supposed to use a combination of motion-sensor technology and connectivity to the Game Boy Advance via the Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable.
There was also a planned game called Kid Kirby that was to be released on the Super Nintendo. The game would have served as a prequel to the series and would have utilized the SNES mouse. The game was cancelled due to the declining sales of the mouse; however, early screenshots of the cancelled game have been posted online. This unreleased game was developed by DMA Design for Nintendo and was scheduled for 1995.
Kirby in other video games
Kirby appears in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, a crossover fighting game featuring many Nintendo characters, such as Mario and Link. Kirby also appears in the game's sequels, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. In Brawl, Meta Knight and King Dedede are also playable characters. Knuckle Joe, an enemy from the Kirby series, also appears in Brawl via an assist trophy. Kirby has also had cameo appearances in other games such as The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, EarthBound and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.
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