Kirby (Kābī) is the main character of Nintendo's Kirby video game series, created by Masahiro Sakurai and developed by HAL Laboratory. The Kirby series is one of Nintendo's many well-known game franchises, spanning nearly twenty games since 1992. His first appearance took place in the 1992 video game Kirby's Dream Land, where he was portrayed by a two-dimensional sprite; since Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards for the Nintendo 64, he has made several appearances in 3-D as well. He has been featured in other video games from Nintendo, on Nintendo's merchandising, on comic books, and even on a television show about the series. Kirby also appears in the Super Smash Bros. series.
Kirby is described in his games as a young male pink ball, who is a denizen of Dream Land on the planet Pop Star. In the main game, he almost always has the same abilities; he can walk, run, jump, float, and inhale, spit out or devour his enemies. Most of Kirby's games adhere to the same basic idea; that this is a series for beginners and children. As such, his games can be beaten by a player of nearly any age, but offer deeper challenges for more experienced gamers.
Kirby often journeys across the planet Pop Star, defeating antagonistic forces such as the greedy King Dedede or the ominous Dark Matter. On other occasions, he encounters the enigmatic Meta Knight. To defeat his foes, he uses his signature ability of inhaling large objects and spitting them out with great force. From Kirby's Adventure onward, Kirby was able to gain the abilities of the enemies he swallowed, aptly known as Copy Abilities. In several games in the series, he obtains a mystical weapon during the climax of the battle against his enemy; this weapon is usually required to defeat the final boss.
Concept and creationEdit
Kirby was originally named Popopo, and his model was created as a blob placeholder sprite during the development of what would be the first Kirby game, originally titled Twinkle Popopo instead of the current Hoshi no Kābī (translated as "Kirby of the Stars"). After a while, creator Masahiro Sakurai started to prefer Kirby's placeholder design over the original conception. He later stated that he envisioned Kirby as a "game for beginners".
As Kirby's first appearance was on the monochrome screen of the Nintendo Game Boy, his "true" color could not be represented in-game. Sakurai intended Kirby to be pink. However, Shigeru Miyamoto had envisioned him as yellow. Because of this ambiguity, Nintendo of America was left with some confusion when the game was ported to the West. The American box art, cartridge label, instruction booklet, and even the television commercial for Kirby's Dream Land features Kirby entirely white in color. The Japanese box art, however, depicts Kirby as pink.
There is a good deal of debate on the origins of Kirby's name. One widespread view is that Kirby adopted his Western name from the Kirby Corporation, a vacuum cleaner manufacturer, which would best describe Kirby's abilities. The other possible explanation is that Kirby was named in honor of Nintendo's legal counsel, John Kirby of Latham & Watkins LLP, who represented them in the courtroom during a copyright infringement lawsuit over Donkey Kong filed by Universal Studios. However, Masahiro Sakurai has been quoted as saying he created the name based on a Japanese fairy tale.
Kirby is voiced by female seiyū Makiko Ōmoto in the Super Smash Bros. series, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, and in the anime Kirby: Right Back at Ya!. She considered the time doing Kirby's voice and working with others on the show and games to be a great experience.
Kirby is a small, pink, spherical creature with large red feet (or shoes), stubby arms and trademark pink cheek-blushes. His body is soft and flexible, allowing him to be flattened. He is said to be 20 centimeters (8 inches) tall, and his weight is unknown, although several parts of the anime and the Super Smash Bros. series suggest that he is light enough to be carried. He hails from the planet Pop Star, where he lives in a dome-shaped 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 has a positive attitude, and helps to save Dream Land through the use of his unique powers. His age is never stated, although in the manual for Kirby's Dream Land he is called a "little boy", and in the television show he is called a "baby" where he more or less acts like a child.
Kirby is cheerful and innocent. He loves to eat, sleep and play, especially during the day. His favorite food is tomatoes, hence the Maxim Tomatoes in the games which fully restore his health (although in the anime, his favorite food appears to be watermelon). He is said to dislike caterpillars. His other hobbies include singing, although he is tone-deaf.
The same personality and nature is presented in the Super Smash Bros. titles. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, his trophy profile states that he is an "extremely skilled technician". Kirby, Meta Knight and King Dedede play a large role in the Subspace Emissary mode as well.
Although (or perhaps because) he appears cute and innocent, many commercials and ads have showcased this as a contrast to his extreme fighting skills when he takes on the weaponry 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' in games including Super Smash Bros. and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. The only exception is in Kirby's Avalanche, where he is depicted as rude and smart-alecky. This game, however, is an American-made spin-off of the Puyo Puyo games (similar to the Sonic title Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine) and was never released in Japan. 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. In Kirby no Kirakira Kizzu, Kirby gives short descriptions of various menu options when they are highlighted. Most of the in game talking Kirby does is in Kirby's Star Stacker, where Kirby explains the game's rules, along with brief game play descriptions (if it isn't done by Dedede). The concept of Kirby being mostly mute is supported by Masahiro Sakurai's insistence that Kirby not speak in the anime series. Though occasionally in the anime he does say the names of his special attacks, certain foods and sometimes does repeat other words that he hears such as yuki (snow) or suika (watermelon). 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" (see: Kirby Anime Development).
Kirby's main attack is inhaling enemies (both his mouth and body expand to allow him to inhale things much larger than himself) and swallowing them. He can also attack others by spitting enemies out as stars. Certain enemies, when swallowed, grant Kirby new powers called Copy Abilities.
In Kirby's Dream Land, 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 curry and rice, which let Kirby shoot out fireballs from his mouth until the item's effect wore off.
In most early games, an ability does not change Kirby's appearance drastically, aside from his color changing to orange or cyan in Kirby's Adventure, or wielding a weapon for abilities like Sword or Hammer. However, beginning with Kirby Super Star, Kirby gains a unique hat for each ability, such as a burning headdress for Fire Kirby, a frozen crown for Ice Kirby, or a backwards baseball cap for Yoyo Kirby and Wheel Kirby. While this would be overlooked in later games not designed by Masahiro Sakurai, such as Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the hats have become a staple of the series.
In Kirby Super Star, Kirby could sacrifice an 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 also uses his powers to attain food or other special items like lollipops that grant him beneficial effects such as healing or temporary invincibility. Kirby Super Star and recent games contain a feature where Kirby can share his food with the second player in a motion that resembles kissing. It became a popular topic to parody in the Japanese manga series.
Kirby can suck in air and make himself more buoyant, flying slowly by flapping his arms. He can attack enemies by quickly exhaling a puff of air. This technique is known as the air gun. Whilst in most games he can float indefinitely, this ability is limited in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and the Super Smash Bros. titles. 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 a future game announced for the Wii, Kirby is again given the ability to release his absorbed enemy as an ally. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Kirby displays an ability called "Cook Kirby", that was taken from Kirby Super Star, as his Final Smash Attack. For this power, Kirby acquires a chef's hat, cooking utensils, and a boiling pot. All objects, including Assist Trophies, Pokémon, and players within a limited range are sucked into the pot. Various items rain from above into the pot, and players fly out.
Kirby's species has been a common topic of debate in his fandom. Unlike many other video game mascots, such as Link being Hylian, Kirby's kind has never been given an official name. However, while Kirby is the one most often emphasized, he is not the only member of his kind. This is evidenced by similar looking characters seen in the ending of Kirby's Dream Land and the remake Spring Breeze in Kirby Super Star and potentially Meta Knight, who looks nearly identical to Kirby aside from color and facial differences. In Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land and Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, different colored Kirbies 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 general, members of the species all look similar, but sometimes have different colored skin, eyes, and shoes. 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. Terms like creampuffs or puffballs are also used to describe the species, referring to their soft, round appearance. 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.
Kirby's race is not called Star Warrior, Warpstar Knight or any variation thereof. Star Warrior is a term used in the anime series to describe a group of legendary warriors from many races. The terms Warpstar Knight and Warpstar Warrior have only ever been used in advertisements, and have never appeared in any game or the anime.
In Kirby's Dream Land 3, mysterious characters Batamon appear. They resemble Kirby aside from a more flattened shape and different face, and are unique in that the player can never directly come in contact with them. They 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 one.
In Kirby: Right Back At Ya!, he is revealed to be both a baby Star Warrior, and, although this was unclear, perhaps one of NME's monsters that turned against him.
Main article: Kirby (series)
Kirby set off on his first adventure in Kirby's Dream Land when the self-made ruler of Dream Land, King Dedede, stole everyone's food and the power stars they needed to get more food. Since then, more dangerous enemies have threatened Kirby's home. His journeys have become more daunting as creatures like Dark Matter possess and control his friends against their will. Kirby maintains a brave and cheerful persona despite it all, gaining new powers and allies to aid him.
Super Smash Bros. seriesEdit
Kirby also appears in the Super Smash Bros. series of games as a playable character. He was the only character from his series to be represented in both Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee; however, in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, he is accompanied by Meta Knight and King Dedede.
Main article: Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
The character Kirby is represented in an anime titled Kirby: Right Back at Ya! (Hoshi no Kābī in Japanese, named after the title of the game series). It is currently licensed in North America by 4Kids Entertainment and the Canadian company Nelvana, and was produced by Nintendo and HAL Laboratory. It aired on 4Kids TV, via Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (since 2001 which has done 100 episodes). Kirby was also in a short, still-animated educational video that was only released in Japan, designed to teach kanji to young children.
Kirby's image in the animated series is similar to his in-game image. His feet are a deeper shade of red than in the games, although most anime-related merchandise does not reflect this change. Though Sakurai said Kirby was not to speak, he allowed him to use a small vocabulary.
Only in the anime series is Kirby's background given any significance. On the show, he is a legendary Star Warrior who, according to legend, is fated to save Pop Star from destruction. No such legends are ever referred to in the games. It is also implied early in the series that he was a creation of an ancient evil entity called Nightmare, though some fans think he was supposed to be a copy of Meta Knight. It is also said that Kirby was meant to sleep for 200 years, but was awoken too early by mistake, which is why he has baby-like qualities. Because of his age, he depends even more on the help of his friends to pull through tough situations.
Unlike the games, the anime contains darker themes such as war, blood, violence, and death (although not in the English version), though it still maintains most of the cheerful and surreal themes from the games. 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.
A main trademark of the show is his Warp Star, which, although oly appearing in some of the games, is used in almost every episode in the series. It is, apparently, his source of power. He only needs to see it to get his power, but he can't keep it safe for himself.
Manga and comicsEdit
Kirby also stars in several manga series, none of which have been released in a language other than Japanese. The longest running series is titled Kirby of the Stars: The Story of Dedede Who Lives In Pupupu, and was written by Hirokazu Hikawa. Other Kirby manga are typically one-shot comedy 4koma based on the games, and have multiple artists. They usually have recurring themes and running gags, despite having different creators.
A few German comics feature Kirby as a detective and King Dedede as his friend. Kirby is also friends with a blue fish, an informant who works at the Blue Fish Bar with fellow blue fish. His animal friends appear in the German comics as pets of a female Kirby look-alike with red glass slippers, ostensibly one of Kirby's girlfriends. In one comic, he meets Lololo, Lalala, and Lola, the stars of the Adventures of Lolo series. These comics were meant to let German Kirby fans know of Kirby games that would be released there.
Game Informer declares that "his floaty, slow controls make him a fairly unexciting platforming character."