Kirby (series)

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For the television series, see Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
A variation of the current logo for the Kirby series, as seen in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
Genres Platform
Developers HAL Laboratory, Nintendo, Good-Feel, Flagship, Natsume, Capcom, Dimps, Arika
Publishers Nintendo
Creators Masahiro Sakurai
Platforms Game Boy, NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U
Platform of origin Game Boy
First release Kirby's Dream Land
April 27, 1992
Latest release Kirby: Planet Robobot
April 28, 2016

The Kirby (星のカービィ Hoshi no Kābī?, "Kirby of the Stars") series is a 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 34 million units worldwide, putting it in the top 50 best selling video game franchises of all time.


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, an obese blue bird and 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, and is not always a villain, being a playable character in the main story mode of some games. 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 rating 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 set 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. 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.


Timeline of release years
1992 Kirby's Dream Land
1993 Kirby's Adventure
Kirby's Pinball Land
1994 Kirby's Dream Course
1995 Kirby's Avalanche
Kirby's Dream Land 2
Kirby's Block Ball
1996 Kirby Super Star
1997 Kirby's Star Stacker
Kirby's Dream Land 3
2000 Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble
2002 Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
2003 Kirby Air Ride
2004 Kirby and the Amazing Mirror
2005 Kirby: Canvas Curse
2006 Kirby: Squeak Squad
2008 Kirby Super Star Ultra
2010 Kirby's Epic Yarn
2011 Kirby Mass Attack
Kirby's Return to Dream Land
2012 Kirby's Dream Collection
2014 Kirby: Triple Deluxe
2015 Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
2016 Kirby: Planet Robobot


The first game in the Kirby series, Kirby's Dream Land for the original Game Boy, 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.[1] 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 major boss enemy Dark Matter was also introduced in this game. The game was to be remade for the Game Boy Color as Kirby's Dream Land 2 DX, but was cancelled.

Kirby's Block Ball, released in November 1995 in the U.S., is a variation of the game Breakout, featuring multiple levels, some of Kirby's copy abilities, and various enemies in unique boss battles.

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 Kābī 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.[2]

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 featured the return of Kirby's animal friends. Similarly to Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby's Dream Land 3 features a few copy abilities which were modified when Kirby paired up with one of his six animal friends. The game had a multiplayer option with the second player controlling Gooey, a recurring character. The antagonist was, once again, Dark Matter, and if certain conditions are met, 0 (Zero) was fought as the true final boss. The game had a unique pastel-drawing art style and used dithering to improve visual performance.[3][4]


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. It also marked the first playable instance of King Dedede, where sections of some stages had Kirby riding piggyback while King Dedede attacked enemies and obstacles with his hammer. It is considered a direct follow-up to Kirby's Dream Land 3 due to the reemergence of Dark Matter and the final boss, albeit in a different form, called 02 (Zero Two). It also included three four-player minigames.

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 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.

During the 2003 Holiday season, a Kirby e-reader card for the Gameboy Advance was released. The card was released under two names, Kirby Slide and Kirby Puzzle. Swiping the card would allow for a sliding puzzle game starring Kirby to be played.[5] Cards were given out at Toys r us stores and in the 2003 December issues of Nintendo Power and Tips & Tricks. The game was released to advertise the English dub of Kirby: Right Back At Ya!

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. Ability scrolls could be found that served as upgrades for each ability, giving them additional moves and/or enhanced functionality. An unlockable copy ability was also introduced.

Kirby Super Star Ultra, announced for the Nintendo DS in early fall 2007[6] and released on September 22, 2008[7] 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.


An untitled Kirby platform game originally planned to be released on the 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.[8] 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.

A fourth game for the DS was released in North America on September 19, 2011, titled Kirby Mass Attack.[9] The game features multiple copies of Kirby in touch screen-based gameplay reminiscent of titles such as Lemmings.[10]

The aforementioned Wii 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. Players 2-4 could choose to play as Meta Knight, King Dedede and/or Waddle Dee, each with dedicated abilities; they could also play as different-colored Kirbys which offered power copying abilities, or as a mixture of the options.[11]

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).[12] 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.

On October 1, 2013, a new Kirby game for the Nintendo 3DS was announced, later named Kirby: Triple Deluxe. The game was released in Japan on January 11, 2014, North America on May 2, 2014, and Europe on May 16, 2014. It incorporated action spanning varied depths, where Kirby could swap between the foreground and background areas. It included a multiplayer fighting mode called "Kirby Fighters", where players could choose one of ten available abilities and fight on themed stages, with the winner being the last Kirby standing. It also included a rhythm-based action game starring King Dedede. There were also over 250 in-game "keychains" to collect that featured sprites from previous Kirby games as well some original sprites based on characters from Triple Deluxe.

At E3 2014, a new game for the Wii U was announced. Titled Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, the game is a direct sequel to Kirby: Canvas Curse and features a similar gameplay style. It was released by Nintendo on January 22, 2015 in Japan, February 20, 2015 in North America, May 8, 2015 in Europe and May 9, 2015 in Australia.

On March 3, 2016, during a Nintendo Direct, Nintendo unveiled a new game based on the context of Kirby: Triple Deluxe called Kirby: Planet Robobot. This game is the second Kirby game to be released on the Nintendo 3DS.[13] It was released alongside a set of amiibo figures made for the Kirby franchise, including a newly announced amiibo, Waddle Dee, on April 28, 2016 in Japan and South Korea, June 10, 2016 in North America and Europe, and June 11, 2016 in Australia. The game is compatible with other amiibo.[14] It also includes 2 new minigames, called Kirby 3D Rumble and Team Kirby Clash, the former being arena based where Kirby can fight baddies to rack up points and achieve a high score, and the latter being a mix of fighting, platform, and RPG. Players can level up to level 10, and can play with AI or other friends. [15][16]

Fictional universe[edit]

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 that 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. Most of Kirby's adventures have occurred 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 Super Star, Pop Star looks star-shaped (rather than a ball) with five points. It has two rings moving up and down and pulses every second.

Nature of the protagonist[edit]

Main article: Kirby (character)

Kirby is a small, pink, spherical creature with large red 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.

Other media[edit]


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 Tiff and Tuff 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[edit]

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.

Other Kirby manga are typically one-shot comedy 4koma based on the games, and have multiple artists. They have recurring themes and running gags.

Kirby also appears in several German comics, featuring him as a detective and King Dedede as his friend. His animal friends appear 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.[citation needed]

Cancelled games[edit]

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 and Kirby Ball 64) on the Nintendo 64,[17] which was eventually released on the GameCube as Kirby Air Ride.

Kirby's Tilt 'n' Tumble 2 on the 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.[18]

There was also a planned game called Kid Kirby that was to be released on the Super Nintendo.[19] 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.

Though resurfaced as Kirby's Return to Dream Land, the GameCube was initially going to have its own original Kirby game, simply titled Kirby Adventure at the time. It was nearly complete and featured at E3 2005, but was cancelled due to troubles incorporating a unique multiplayer mechanic, which became the special attack in Kirby's Return to Dream Land (where all players stack on each other, hold A and release at the same time). Most of Kirby Adventure was scrapped in the game it became to be, such as the helper system that was featured in Kirby Super Star which made a return in the GameCube version of the game before cancellation, as well as having faster-paced gameplay similar to Kirby Super Star.

Kirby in other video games[edit]

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, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. In Brawl, Meta Knight and King Dedede are also playable characters, which carries over to the 3DS and Wii U versions. Knuckle Joe, an enemy from the Kirby series, also appears in Brawl via an assist trophy, and he is followed by Nighmare, a major antagonist, who is an assist trophy in the Wii U and 3DS versions. Kirby has had cameo appearances in other games such as The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, EarthBound, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Stunt Race FX.


  1. ^ "Kirby's Rainbow Resort". Retrieved 28 June 2014. It featured better than ever NES graphics, a big variety of tunes and extras galore to keep all ages glued to this classic game. 
  2. ^ Andou, N. スーパーファミコン タイトル. Famicom House. Retrieved 24 April 2009.
  3. ^ Thomas, Lucas M. (January 6, 2009). "Kirby's Dreamland 3 Review". Retrieved 28 June 2014. Kirby's Dream Collection 3 (...) employed an advanced-for-the-time dithering effect to enhance the visuals. 
  4. ^ "Kirby's Rainbow Resort". Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Kirby Puzzle". 
  6. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (October 11, 2007). "Second Hand Hands On from Japan". IGN. Retrieved October 9, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Kirby Super Star Ultra - Nintendo DS". IGN. Retrieved October 9, 2016. 
  8. ^ Yoon, Andrew (January 28, 2011). "New Kirby Wii game coming from HAL Laboratory". Engadget (Joystiq). Retrieved October 9, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Kirby Bounces Back at E3 2011 « Nintendojo". Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  10. ^ Rosenberg, Jared. "Nintendo Reveals New Kirby and Pokémon for DS". Nintendo World Report. 
  11. ^ "任天堂 E3 2011情報". Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  12. ^ "Kirby Anthology Coming This Year for Wii, Says Nintendo". Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  13. ^ Caranza, Alma. "Nintendo Direct Reveals Paper Mario: Color Splash, Kirby: Planet Robobot, And Virtual Console Additions". Mxdwn. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 
  14. ^ Ganos, Jason. "Kirby: Planet Robobot Amiibo Details Revealed Via Japanese Website". Nintendo Inquirer. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  15. ^ Bhairam, Louisa. "First Look At Kirby Planet Robobot Minigame". Attack of The Fanboy. Retrieved 25 March 2016. 
  16. ^ {}
  17. ^ "Kirby Ball 64". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (78): 79. January 1996. 
  18. ^ The game was presented during the Nintendo Space World 2001
  19. ^ Other Stuff: Nintendo News. DieHard GameFan. Volume 3. Issue 6. Number 30. Pg.129. June 1995.

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