|First release||Kirby's Dream Land|
April 27, 1992
|Latest release||Kirby Fighters 2|
September 23, 2020
Kirby[a] is an action-platformer video game series developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo. The series centers around the adventures of a young, pink alien hero named Kirby as he fights to save his home on the distant Planet Popstar from a variety of threats. The majority of the games in the series are side-scrolling platformers with puzzle solving and beat 'em up elements. Kirby has the ability to inhale enemies and objects into his mouth, spitting them out as a projectile or eating them. If he eats certain things he can gain the powers or properties of that object manifesting as a new weapon or power-up called a Copy Ability. The series is intended to be easy to pick up and play even for people unfamiliar with action games, while at the same time offering additional challenge and depth for more experienced players to come back to.
The main protagonist and namesake of the series is a young, spherical, 8-inch-tall pink creature named Kirby who resides on a far away star-shaped planet called Popstar in the country of Dream Land. Much of Dream Land is peaceful and its people lead laid back and carefree lives. However, when peace in Dream Land is shattered from threats, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial in origin, it's up to Kirby to become a brave warrior and save his home. Despite his young and carefree personality, Kirby possesses many incredible abilities, such as the power to inhale objects and enemies, sucking them into his stretchy mouth with the choice of spitting them out with force, or taking on their properties as he ingests his foes to Copy their abilities, transforming into new forms and gaining new powers; such as breathing fire, wielding a sword, launching sparks in every direction, or attacking enemies with direct hand-to-hand combat.
Many recurring characters appear throughout the series both allies and enemies. The most frequent one being King Dedede, a gluttonous blue penguin-like bird and self-proclaimed ruler of Dream Land. King Dedede has appeared in every Kirby game except for Kirby & the Amazing Mirror. King Dedede's selfish nature often leads him and Kirby to clash, however he sometimes teams up with Kirby when a greater threat appears. Another major character of the series is the enigmatic Meta Knight, a chivalrous masked man who wishes to one day fight the strongest warrior in the galaxy and leads a band of like-minded warriors. Whenever he and Kirby duel, he will always offer Kirby a sword beforehand so that the fight is fair. While his true face resembles Kirby's, his exact relationship with Kirby remains a mystery.
The main Kirby games are side-scrolling action-platformers. Kirby must run, jump, and attack enemies while traversing through a number of areas, solving puzzles and fighting bosses along the way. One of the things that sets Kirby apart is Kirby's ability to inflate himself with a gulp of air and fly. In most games he can do this for as long as he likes however, his attack options are limited while doing so.
Kirby games often contain a number of hidden items that either unlock more parts to the game or are simple incentives to collect, and are usually required to achieve 100% completion in the game. These special items usually relate to the plot of the game, most often used to create a special weapon required to defeat the final boss. In some games, the special weapon is optional and can be used in the game regularly after defeating the final boss with it. These elements have remained constant throughout most of the series, with each game having its own unique twist to affect gameplay.
The games' fantasy world of Popstar 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 mountains, open meadows, water-filled or submerged areas, icy snowfields, and similar nature-based places.
There are also several spinoff games in the series, which involve a variety of different gaming genres such as pinball, puzzle, racing, a game based on motion-sensor technology. A number of these side games take advantage of Kirby's round, ball-like appearance.
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 North America in August that year. A simple game, consisting of five levels, it introduced Kirby's ability to inhale enemies and objects. The game contains an unlockable hard mode, known as the "Extra Game", which features stronger enemies and more difficult bosses. 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 released in North America in May 1993. Kirby's Adventure gave Kirby the ability to gain special powers when he ate certain enemies, called Copy Abilities; the game contained a total of 25 different ones to use. These powers replaced Kirby's inhale and could be used until Kirby sustained damage causing him to drop the ability, or the player voluntarily discarded it to obtain another one. As one of the last games created for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Kirby's Adventure featured advanced graphics and sound that pushed the hardware's capabilities to the limit, including pseudo 3D effects on some stages. It was re-released in 2002 on the Game Boy Advance, retitled Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, featuring updated graphics and sound, multiplayer support, and the ability to play as Meta Knight.
After Kirby's Adventure, the Kirby series received a number of spin-off games. Kirby's Pinball Land, released in November 1993, is a pinball game featuring Kirby as the pinball. Kirby's Dream Course, released in North America in February 1995, is a golf-based game which features an isometric graphic design. Kirby's Avalanche, released in February 1995 in North America and Europe, is a puzzle game, a westernized version of the Japanese game Puyo Puyo.
Kirby's Dream Land 2, released in Japan and North America in March 1995, brought the Copy Abilities from Kirby's Adventure to a handheld system, but due to system limitations lowered the number of abilities to seven. The game introduced three rideable 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. 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 North America, 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 North America 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 in use, to help the player dispatch enemies.
In 1996, a Kirby mini-game series, Kirby's Toy Box,[b] was released via the St.GIGA satellite broadcasting system for the Satellaview. These mini-games were given a unique broadcast date. Mini-game games 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 North America, 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 is Dark Matter, and if certain conditions are met, Zero was fought as the true final boss. The game had a unique pastel-drawing art style and used dithering to improve visual performance.
The first game to have 3D graphics in the Kirby series, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, was released on the Nintendo 64 in North America in June 2000. The game features a 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 the only Kirby game to have a special cartridge color (transparent pink) in North America.
The only Kirby game for the GameCube, Kirby Air Ride, was released in North America in October 2003. It is a racing game which deviates greatly from other Kirby games, although still featuring series staples including enemies and Copy Abilities.
During the 2003 Holiday season, a Kirby e-reader card for the Game Boy 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. 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 Metroidvania format, with all the levels being interconnected and able to be completed in any order. 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 under the name Kirby Power Paintbrush, 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 (titled Kirby: Mouse Attack in Europe) 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 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.
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 a different project from the untitled game, which, in January 2011, resurfaced with an altered design and motif. Kirby's Epic Yarn began development as an original game 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, Kirby Mass Attack. The game features multiple copies of Kirby in touch screen-based gameplay reminiscent of games such as Lemmings.
The aforementioned Wii game, Kirby's Return to Dream Land (tentatively titled Kirby Wii) was 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.
An anthology disc for the Wii called Kirby's Dream Collection was released on July 19, 2012 in Japan and 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.
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, in North America on May 2, 2014, in Europe on May 16, 2014, and in Australasia on May 17, 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. In August 2014, Kirby Fighters Deluxe and Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe (enhanced versions of the mini-games in Kirby: Triple Deluxe) were released.
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 Australasia.
In March 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 released on the Nintendo 3DS. 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, June 10, 2016 in North America and Europe, and June 11, 2016 in Australasia. The game is compatible with other Amiibo. It also includes 2 new minigames, called Kirby 3D Rumble and Team Kirby Clash, the former being an arena based, 3D action game where Kirby uses his inhale to defeat large groups of baddies to rack up points and achieve a high score, and the latter being a mix of fighting, platform, and role-playing. Players can level up to level 10, and can play with AI or other friends.
In a Nintendo Direct in April 2017, three new Kirby games were announced for Kirby's 25th Anniversary. The first game was Team Kirby Clash Deluxe, an upgraded version of the Kirby: Planet Robobot mini-game "Team Kirby Clash". It was announced and released on April 12. The second game was Kirby's Blowout Blast, an upgraded version of the Kirby: Planet Robobot mini-game "Kirby 3D Rumble" which was released on July 4, 2017 in Japan, and on July 6, 2017 in North America, Europe and Australasia. The third game was Kirby Battle Royale, an action-multiplayer fighting game which was released on November 3, 2017 in Europe and Australasia, November 30, 2017 in Japan, and January 19, 2018 in North America.
At E3 2017, Nintendo unveiled a new installment for the Nintendo Switch, Kirby Star Allies. The game was released on March 16, 2018. Kirby can throw Friend Hearts to turn enemies into computer- or player-controlled allies, a variation of the "Helper System" from Kirby Super Star. "Power Combinations" return from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and Kirby: Squeak Squad. Kirby can also summon "Dream Friends", consisting of major Kirby characters acting as Helpers, which includes King Dedede, Meta Knight, Bandana Waddle Dee, Rick, Kine, & Coo, Marx, Gooey, Adeleine & Ribbon, Dark Meta Knight, Daroach, Magolor, Taranza, Susie, and The Three Mage-Sisters (Francisca, Flamberge, and Zan Partizanne).
In September 2020, Nintendo released a new Switch game, Kirby Fighters 2, on the eShop, as the successor to Kirby Fighters Deluxe. Before its official reveal, the game was leaked on the Play Nintendo website, but was later taken down. The game expands on the previous installment with new gamemodes and an additional ability, the wrestler.
While most of Kirby's adventures take place on Popstar, his journeys occasionally take place on an interplanetary scale; such as in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Milky Way Wishes from Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, and Kirby Star Allies.
Nature of the protagonist
Kirby is a small, pink, spherical alien with red feet, stubby flap-like arms and pink cheek-blushes. He is referred to as male in the animated series, and described as a young boy in the instruction manual for Kirby's Dream Land. His body is soft and flexible, allowing him to stretch his mouth to inhale foes or inflate himself with air and float. According to Super Smash Bros. instruction manual, he is 8 inches tall; this is contradicted in Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the former of which shows Kirby to be at about knee height compared to Samus Aran and the latter of which showing him to be a few inches shorter than the human girl Adeleine.
Kirby hails from the country of Dream Land on Planet Popstar, where he lives in a domed house. 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 limited to grunts, shouts, and monosyllables in such games as Super Smash Bros and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. However he does speak 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, Hoshi no Kaabii. It 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 4Kids Entertainment in North America and Nelvana Limited in Canada, with VHS and DVD distributions in North America by FUNimation Entertainment and DVD distributions in Australia by Magna Pacific. 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. Here, he is a legendary Star Warrior destined to save the universe from the intergalactic conqueror known as Nightmare. However, because he was awakened 200 years too early he arrived in a childlike state and his powers haven't fully developed. The ruler of Dream Land, King Dedede, is jealous of the attention Kirby receives from its inhabitants and frequently orders monsters from Nightmare's company, Nightmare Enterprises, in an attempt to do away with Kirby. Nightmare Enterprises at first appears to be an intergalactic delivery company, but is really a front for Nightmare's intergalactic conquest that dupes unsuspecting customers into funding Nightmare's armies. Not yet ready to achieve his destiny, Kirby must learn how to use his incredible abilities with the help of his friends, and sometimes with the help of the enigmatic Meta Knight, who while he claims to be loyal to King Dedede, will often work behind the scenes in order to aid Kirby or train him in the use of his abilities.
The show is based on the game series, but rather than being a direct adaptation of any of the games it uses characters and concepts from the games (especially Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby's Adventure, and Kirby Super Star) to tell its own story.
Comics and manga
Kirby stars in several manga series, none of which have been released outside of 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.
In the lifetime of the Kirby series, several video games have been in development that, for various reasons, were ultimately abandoned. These include Kirby's Air Ride 64 (also known as Kirby Bowl 64 and Kirby Ball 64) on the Nintendo 64, 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.
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.
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, 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. Such concepts would be revitalized in Kirby Star Allies for the Nintendo Switch.
Kirby in other video games
Kirby appears as a character in Nintendo's crossover fighting game series Super Smash Bros. (also developed by series creator Masahiro Sakurai), appearing in all installments of the franchise. Starting with Super Smash Bros. Brawl onwards, he's joined by Meta Knight and King Dedede. Many items from the Kirby series also appear in Super Smash Bros such as the Maxim Tomato (all games), Warp Star (since Melee), Dragoon (since Brawl) and Star Rod (all games) as items, and Knuckle Joe (Brawl and 3DS/Wii U), Nightmare (3DS/Wii U) and Chef Kawasaki (Ultimate) appear as characters summoned by the Assist Trophy. All playable Kirby characters in Smash Bros. have the ability to jump more than twice. Kirby has also made cameo appearances in other games as well, such as The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, EarthBound, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Stunt Race FX.
The Kirby games have received reception that ranges from mixed to very favourable reviews by players and critics. Kirby's Epic Yarn is the most acclaimed game in the series, while Kirby Battle Royale is the lowest-rated.
|Kirby's Dream Land||N/A||62%|
|Kirby's Adventure[d]||77/100 (Game Boy Advance remake)||78% (NES)|
|Kirby's Pinball Land||N/A||70%|
|Kirby's Dream Course||N/A||77%|
|Kirby's Dream Land 2||N/A||82%|
|Kirby's Block Ball||N/A||73%|
|Kirby Super Star||N/A||86%|
|Kirby's Star Stacker||N/A||73%|
|Kirby's Dream Land 3||N/A||66%|
|Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards||77/100||74%|
|Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble||N/A||83%|
|Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land||81/100||80%|
|Kirby Air Ride||61/100||66%|
|Kirby & the Amazing Mirror||80/100||78%|
|Kirby: Canvas Curse||86/100||87%|
|Kirby: Squeak Squad||71/100||72%|
|Kirby Super Star Ultra||76/100||80%|
|Kirby's Epic Yarn||86/100||88%|
|Kirby Mass Attack||83/100||84%|
|Kirby's Return to Dream Land||77/100||81%|
|Kirby's Dream Collection||82/100||81%|
|Kirby: Triple Deluxe||80/100||81%|
|Kirby Fighters Deluxe||66/100||65%|
|Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe||65/100||63%|
|Kirby and the Rainbow Curse||73/100||75%|
|Kirby: Planet Robobot||81/100||84%|
|Team Kirby Clash Deluxe||N/A||N/A|
|Kirby's Blowout Blast||69/100||71%|
|Kirby Battle Royale||57/100||58%|
|Kirby Star Allies||73/100||73%|
The Kirby manga has over 10 million copies in print.
Many Kirby games have performed commercially well, selling at least one million or more copies worldwide. Only games that have sold at least one million are included in this list. Kirby's Dream Land, the first game in the series, is currently the best-selling game in the series, whereas Kirby Mass Attack is the lowest-selling in millions.
|Kirby's Dream Land||5.13|||
|Kirby's Pinball Land||2.19|||
|Kirby's Dream Land 2||2.36|||
|Kirby Super Star||1.44|||
|Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards||1.77|||
|Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble||1.23|||
|Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land||2.1|||
|Kirby Air Ride||1.17|||
|Kirby & the Amazing Mirror||1.47|||
|Kirby: Squeak Squad||1.6|||
|Kirby Super Star Ultra||2.36|||
|Kirby's Epic Yarn||1.59|||
|Kirby Mass Attack||1.06|||
|Kirby's Return to Dream Land||1.31|||
|Kirby: Triple Deluxe||2.61|||
|Kirby: Planet Robobot||1.59|||
|Kirby Star Allies||2.93|||
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It featured better than ever NES graphics, a big variety of tunes and extras galore to keep all ages glued to this classic game.
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