|Kirby series character|
Kirby as he appears in Kirby's Return to Dream Land
|First appearance||Kirby's Dream Land (1992)|
|Created by||Masahiro Sakurai|
|Designed by||Masahiro Sakurai
|Voiced by||Taeko Kawata (1994)
Makiko Ohmoto (1999-present)
Kirby (カービィ Kābī?) is a fictional character and the titular protagonist of the Kirby series of video games owned by Nintendo and HAL Laboratory. As one of Nintendo's most famous and familiar icons, Kirby's round appearance and ability to copy his foes' powers has made him a well-known figure in video games, consistently ranked as one of the most iconic video game characters. He first appeared in 1992 in Kirby's Dream Land for the Game Boy. Originally a placeholder, created by Masahiro Sakurai, at the age of 19, for the game's early development, he has since then starred in over 20 games, ranging from action platformers to puzzle, racing, and even pinball, and has been featured as a playable fighter in all Super Smash Bros. games. He has also starred in his own anime and manga series. His most recent appearance is in Kirby: Planet Robobot, for the Nintendo 3DS. Since 1999, he has been voiced by Makiko Ohmoto.
Kirby is well known for his ability to inhale objects and creatures to gain their abilities, as well as his ability to float by expanding his body. He uses these abilities to rescue various lands, such as his home world of Pop Star, from evil forces and antagonists, such as Dark Matter or Nightmare. On these adventures he often crosses paths with his rivals, the gluttonous King Dedede and the mysterious Meta Knight, though Meta Knight can be found as a hero, depending on the game. Kirby has been described as one of the greatest video game heroes of all time. In virtually all his appearances, Kirby is depicted as cheerful, innocent and food-loving but becomes fearless, bold and clever in the face of danger.
Concept and creation
Kirby was created by video game designer Masahiro Sakurai as the player character of the 1992 game Kirby's Dream Land. The character's design was intended to serve as placeholder graphics for the game's original protagonist in early development, and thus was given a simplistic ball-like appearance. Sakurai switched to the placeholder design for the final character design when he believed that it served the character better. The character was known as Popopo (ポポポ?) during development until the name "Kirby" was chosen from a draft list of potential names. Shigeru Miyamoto stated that "Kirby" was chosen because of its similarity to American lawyer John Kirby, who defended Nintendo in the Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd. case in 1984 and that the guttural-sounding name contrasted amusingly with the character's cute appearance. Kirby appears white in Kirby's Dream Land due to the grayscale palette of the Game Boy system. Sakurai intended the character to be pink, though Miyamoto originally wanted the character to be yellow. Kirby does appear white in the game's North American promotional materials and artwork to reflect the character's in-game appearance.
In North America, Kirby often appears in artwork with a more striking, bolder expression than in Japan. Nintendo has said that the more battle ready appearance appeals to a wider audience in North America.
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Kirby is small, pink, and spherical with large red feet and stubby arms. He has distinctive oval shaped eyes that are white (eye shine) at the top, black in the center and dark blue on the bottom (all black in early games) and rosy cheek-blushes near his eyes. His body is soft and flexible, allowing him to stretch or flatten and adopt different shapes or open his mouth really wide for his trademark inhale ability. According to the Super Smash Bros. manual he is 8 inches (or 20.32 centimeters) tall. Kirby's appearance has changed subtly over the years, becoming more rounded and defined, mainly in his face and larger blue eyes. The new design has been used in all subsequent games.
Kirby hails from the planet Pop Star, where he lives in a dome-shaped house in the kingdom of Dream Land. He has a positive attitude, and helps to save Dream Land through the use of his unique powers. His age is never directly stated, although he was once called a "little boy" in the English manual for Kirby's Dream Land, was described as a baby in the anime, and was referred to as being a "jolly fellow" in Kirby Super Star.
The same personality and nature is presented in the Super Smash Bros. games. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, his trophy profile states that he is an "extremely skilled technician". Kirby plays a prominent role in the Subspace Emissary plot as a protagonist, the story mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Although he appears cute and innocent, many commercials and ads have contrasted this with his extreme fighting skills when he takes on the abilities of an enemy.
Kirby is a character of few words and rarely speaks in-game. His dialogue is largely limited to appearances in some games' instruction manuals, and brief comments such as "Hi!" or "Poyo!" in games including Super Smash Bros. and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Despite his lack of dialogue, Kirby narrates the functions of certain Copy Abilities on the pause menu in Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, and Kirby: Squeak Squad. Kirby gives short descriptions of various menu options when they are highlighted. The concept of Kirby being mostly mute is supported by Masahiro Sakurai's insistence that Kirby does not speak in the anime series, although he does occasionally say the names of his special attacks and certain foods and sometimes repeats other words that he hears. In the Super Smash Bros. series, when Kirby copies a foe's ability, Kirby says the name of some attacks, such as Captain Falcon's "Falcon Punch", Ness' PK Flash, Lucas' PK Freeze, Ryu's Hadoken/Shakunetsu Hadoken and "Jump/Speed/Shield/Buster/Smash" when using Shulk's Monado Arts. There are some notable exceptions where Kirby actually does speak in-game, such as Kirby's Avalanche, Kirby no Kirakira Kizzu and Kirby's Epic Yarn.
Despite his loveable nature, he sometimes acts in an impulsive or naive way, such as when he accuses King Dedede of interfering with the Fountain of Dreams in Kirby's Adventure, and then leaves to retrieve the pieces of the shattered Star Rod without receiving a full explanation. He also attacked Meta Knight in Kirby Squeak Squad for ownership of a chest that he believed contained a slice of his stolen strawberry shortcake. In reality, the Star Rod was going to be taken by Nightmare, who would corrupt the Fountain of Dreams and turn every dream into a Nightmare, and the chest that Kirby wanted contained Dark Nebula, a powerful being with evil intentions. King Dedede and Meta Knight were aware of these problems, and were trying to protect the world.
Kirby's most iconic ability is inhaling enemies (both his mouth and body expand to allow him to inhale things much larger than himself) and swallowing them, subsequently copying their primary attribute, such as gaining fire abilities from inhaling a fiery creature. Inhaled entities can also be spit out. In addition, he can float like a balloon by puffing his cheeks.
In Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby's first appearance, Kirby did not have Copy Abilities. He collected power ups, such as a mint leaf, which enabled him to shoot out endless air pellets for a limited amount of time, and super spicy curry, which let Kirby shoot out fireballs from his mouth until the item's effect wore off or he lost a life.
In most early games, an ability does not change Kirby's appearance drastically, aside from his color changing to orange or snow white in Kirby's Adventure, Kirby Air Ride, or wielding a weapon for abilities like Sword or Hammer. However, in Kirby Super Star, Kirby gains a unique hat for each ability, such as his now iconic green, long hat for when he has the Sword ability. Although not present in all games, such as Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the hats soon became a staple of the series. In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, some copy abilities are enhanced into so called Super Abilities that make them even more powerful.
In Kirby Super Star, Kirby could sacrifice his copied ability to create a 'Helper', an allied version of the enemy he had devoured. The new Helper would be controlled by the game or a second player. This feature has not yet been included in later Kirby games, although it was included in Kirby Super Star's remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra. Kirby Super Star also introduces a mechanic where Kirby can copy a single ability and gain multiple fighting techniques from it, such as short blade techniques for the Cutter ability, rather than just one technique per ability.
Kirby uses food or other special items like lollipops to heal his health or gain temporary invincibility in the case of the lollipop. Kirby Super Star, Kirby Super Star Ultra, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror and Kirby's Return to Dreamland contain a feature where Kirby can share his food with the second player.
Kirby can inhale air to make himself more buoyant, flying slowly by flapping his arms. He can attack enemies by quickly exhaling a puff of air. While in most games he can float indefinitely, this ability is limited in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and Super Smash Bros. In Kirby: Triple Deluxe, his inhale ability can receive a temporary boost, called Hypernova, that allows him to inhale huge objects and swallow them. Other games have developed his powers even further, such as allowing him to block attacks in Kirby Super Star. As a whole, however, his basic moves have remained the same, although more Copy Abilities are added in each new game. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Kirby's Final Smash is his Cook ability from Kirby Super Star, which cook opponents, items and more. In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Kirby's final smash ability was an Ultra Sword attack.
In Kirby's Epic Yarn, at the start of the game, Kirby inhales a yarn-based Maxim Tomato (referred to by Yin-Yarn as a Metamato) transforming him into yarn, granting Kirby the ability to transform into a car, a surfboarding penguin, a UFO, and many other forms. Also, since Kirby cannot suck up enemies in this game (since air just goes through him), he uses a yarn whip to grab enemies and turn them into yarn balls, which can by thrown at other foes, attached to buttons, move zippers and more.
Although never explored in great detail in the series, Kirby is not the only member of his kind. Similar looking characters are seen in the ending of Kirby's Dream Land, and its remake Spring Breeze in Kirby Super Star. Meta Knight and Galacta Knight, both of whom bear a close resemblance to Kirby without their masks are often hinted to be of the same species as Kirby. In general, members of the species all look similar, but sometimes have different colored skin, eyes, and feet.
No official term exists for them other than Kirby's species. They are commonly referred to as Kirbys, just as 'Yoshi' in the Mario series is the name of both the species and character. As a name, however, 'Kirby' refers to only one character. In the English manual of Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, the term Kirbys is used at points, to illustrate the feature of having four differently colored versions of Kirby active in the game simultaneously. Another common term is Dream Landers, a term used in the instruction manual for Kirby's Adventure. This term, however, also refers to anyone who lives in Dream Land, including characters like King Dedede. The biography of Kirby in Super Smash Bros. Brawl says Kirby is a citizen of Dream Land. Sometimes the term puffballs is used referring to the species' round shape.
In Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, Kirby's Return to Dream Land and Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, different colored Kirbys appear as other players in multi-player games. In the case of the latter, they are the result of Kirby being divided into four by Dark Meta Knight.
In the anime, Kirby has also been called a Star Warrior, along with Meta Knight and other characters that have appeared in the Kirby animated series. It is said that Kirby is just a young Star Warrior or an underdeveloped one. In the first episode of the animated series, Kirby's space ship prematurely crashed on Pop Star. The trip was supposed to take him several hundred years and in that time he was supposed to be dormant; however, his ship drifted into a space rift causing it to warp to Dream Land and making his trip shorter, not allowing him to develop into the Star Warrior he was going to become. Kirby was also called a Warpstar Knight or a Warpstar Warrior, but this was only occasionally seen in select advertisements.
In Kirby's Dream Land 3, a mysterious enemy appears called Batamon, notable for its resemblance to Kirby aside from a more flattened shape and different face. These creatures are always seen walking past walls or ceilings beyond Kirby's reach, with the exception of a single stage in Cloudy Park, where Kirby can continue past the exit and come into contact with some.
Kirby's primary media form is video games, as he is the star and protagonist of the Nintendo owned series named after him. Most Kirby games are platform games in which Kirby fights enemies, solves puzzles, and challenges bosses. Each game typically adds a new twist or change to Kirby's abilities that the levels of the game emphasize, such as combining power ups in Kirby 64 or Super Copy Abilities in Return to Dreamland. Most games involve Kirby saving a world or even universe from a dark, evil force of some kind. Typical Kirby games have a powerful being, such as Dark Matter or Nightmare, controlling or corrupting a secondary villain.
The series has 25 games currently, with the first being Kirby's Dream Land in 1992 and the latest being Kirby: Planet Robobot in 2016. Although most are platform games, some spin offs have included pinball, racing, and puzzle games.
Super Smash Bros. series
Kirby also appears in the Super Smash Bros. series of games as a playable character, which is also created by Masahiro Sakurai. He was the series' sole representative in Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee, but is accompanied by fellow characters, Meta Knight and King Dedede in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where Kirby plays a huge role in the Subspace Emissary Adventure mode. He reprises his role as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
Kirby appears in his own anime titled Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, (Japanese: 星のカービィ Hoshi no Kaabii) in Japan. The series was licensed in North America by 4Kids Entertainment and the Canadian company Nelvana, and produced by Warpstar Inc., a company formed between a joint investment between Nintendo and HAL Laboratory. It aired on 4Kids TV, via Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (since 2001 which has done 100 episodes).
The anime series is set in its own universe independent of the games and offers its own take on the setting and characters however, Kirby's creator, Masahiro Sakurai, was greatly involved in its creation, so it did not stray far from his vision of how Kirby should be. The anime contains darker themes such as war, and death while still maintaining the cheerful and surreal themes the games are known for.
In the anime Kirby's origin and backstory are explored much more deeply than in the games. Kirby is a legendary Star Warrior who, according to legend, is fated to save Pop Star from destruction, but he was awoken from his slumber 200 years too early by mistake and as such has many baby or childlike qualities. Because of his age he is still getting the hang of his powers and depends even more on the help of his friends to pull through tough situations. It is also implied that Kirby was originally a creation of the ancient evil entity called Nightmare but refused to follow his evil orders and was discarded into the depths of space.
Kirby's Warpstar is also expanded upon, as in the games it is a mode of transportation, but here the Warpstar is also the source of his power but as he's too young to keep it safe for himself the character Tiff takes it upon herself to keep the Warpstar safe.
Though Sakurai instructed that Kirby not speak in full sentences (citing the Peanuts character Snoopy) he did allow him to use a small vocabulary including a catch phrase "Poyo" and the names of various attacks and characters.
Prior to this Kirby was also in a short educational video that was released exclusively in Japan in 1994, designed to teach Kanji to young children. The feature was not animated, but contained illustrations and was bundled with a similar video featuring Mario and Wario.
Manga and comics
Kirby also stars in several manga series, most of which have only been released in Japanese. The longest running series is titled 星のカービィ デデデでプププなものがたり (lit. Kirby of the Stars: The Story of Dedede In Pupupu) running up to 25 books, and was written by Hirokazu Hikawa (ひかわ 博一 Hikawa Hirokazu). While Viz Media originally had plans to release the manga in English on September 2010. This release date was pushed back to October 4, 2011 before being canceled completely on May 16, 2011.
Other Kirby manga are typically one-shot comedy 4koma gag-manga based on the games, and have multiple artists.
The German Club Nintendo magazine often featured comics starring various Nintendo characters including Kirby. In his comics Kirby is reimagined as a detective and King Dedede as his sidekick. These comics were promotions for Kirby games that were released in Germany at the time including Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby's Avalanche, and Kirby's Dream Course.
Since he first appeared in Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby has received positive reception. Nintendo Power listed Kirby as their 19th favourite hero, commenting that he doesn't get the respect that he deserves. Kirby ranked second on GameDaily's Top 10 Super Smash Bros. characters list. They also included him in their "Pretty in Pink Video Game Characters" article. GamesRadar listed Kirby as one of the most lovable blobs, calling him one of the cutest things to appear in a Nintendo game, yet also describing the way he defeats his enemies as "horrific." He ranked sixth on IGN's top 10 veteran Super Smash Bros. characters, described as the "pinkest badass ever made." An issue of the webcomic VG Cats depicts Kirby in 100 forms from both video games and other forms of media, such as characters from The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear and Gundam. In 2011, Cheat Code Central ranked Ninja Kirby as the ninth top ninja in video games.
UGO Networks listed Kirby on their list of "The Cutest Video Game Characters" stating "It's easy to get on board with someone who will eat anything." In 2009, GameSpot chose him as one of the characters to compete in their poll for the title of "All Time Greatest Game Hero". In a 2010 Famitsu poll, Kirby was voted by readers as the 12th most popular video game character. The 2011 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition lists Kirby as the 18th most popular video game character. In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 40th "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games, saying "[i]f you don’t think a pink blob can be tough, then you clearly haven’t seen Kirby in action".
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