Y’know what’s weird?
The fact that one of the strongest Nintendo characters is an adorable pink puffball. …Actually, considering Nintendo’s track record of cute-yet-cool characters, it really isn’t a surprise that one of their strongest is said pink puffball.
So, let’s gush about Masahiro Sakurai’s creation before Smash Brothers– Kirby!
Kirby is a series of 2D platformers geared towards newcomers to gaming. It focuses on the adventures of Kirby, a small blob-thing living on Planet Popstar in the small land of Dreamland. In the beginning, he had mainly fought against his nemesis, the self-proclaimed king of Dreamland, King Dedede… But they’re on much better terms now. Recently, Kirby’s going on more adventures to not just save Dreamland, but the world!
The main draw?
Seriously, THE GOOMBAS OF THE FRANCHISE ARE LITERALLY JUST THESE CUTE ORANGE WADDLE DEES! And one of them is playable as of Return to Dreamland! Just look at him he seriously has a spear helicopter move that shouldn’t be logical but rule of cool applies.
These games are just full of charm. From the cute characters and the colorful graphic styles, this series will pull you in and never let you go. And while most of the games share a similar artstyle, certain games such as Kirby’s Dreamland 3 and Kirby’s Epic Yarn have a unique look to them, with the former looking like a child’s drawing and the latter being made of stitching and patching. …You can’t get any better with that.
Also it’s adorable end of story. (Well, no.)
Kirby is one of the few Nintendo series where I’d say that there isn’t really a hated game in it. Kirby fans tend to pride themselves on this little tidbit, but if you ask me, they have a point. All of the games are fairly solid. Sure, depending on a fan’s view, one game may be weaker than another, but they’re still well-made games with quite a bit of thought put behind them.
That’s what I appreciate about the series- A consistency in quality.
One struggle game series have is trying to keep a consistent quality. For example, the Sonic series. Some of the games are great, and some are… Not-so-great. Even famous franchises like Mario have had some blunders, with a few particular spin-off titles coming to mind. With the prominence of quickly-made games rushed out to get a buck off of a popular game series, it’s refreshing to see a game series that would rather pride itself on quality rather than quantity.
Of course, Kirby games tend to be similar in gameplay. Our cute little hero has the ability to inhale anything to either spit it out (to deal damage) or swallowing it. He runs and jumps through levels, and can float, which is quite a rarity among 2D platformer protagonists. Seeing as these games are meant for newcomers, it’s easy to see why such a maneuver would be in place.
But the real meat of the gameplay is the copy ability system! It’s been in place for a majority of the series, save for a few games. It was introduced in Kirby’s Adventure, where it was a lot more simple. Every ability had one move, and that was about it. They came in handy with puzzles, taking out enemies, and the occasional boss battle or so. It was a fun mechanic, though there was certainly more to do with it.
And then Kirby Super Star came out and introduced fleshed-out movesets to these abilities. It works a lot like how Super Smash Bros. handles its character movesets. Press one button, you do a thing. If you press that button while doing another thing, you do a cooler thing! And maybe if you repeatedly do this, you can combo something!
Okay, maybe this is a bit inaccurate to the actual gameplay. But it added a lot of room for experimentation. You could be amazing with one ability but suck at another one. Generally, most people use them for boss battles. Does this mean normal Kirby is useless?
Nope! His primary ability still is sucking after all.
It’s a bit harder to beat the bosses, but it certainly isn’t as bad as you may think. The stars that Kirby can spit at his foes can do more damage to the bosses than the abilities!
Another thing I love about this franchise are the boss battles! The earlier games were rather tame with most bosses, but as time went on they gradually became better. Special highlight goes to the final bosses, ESPECIALLY those in the recent entries. While they aren’t challenging per say, they are amazing with atmosphere, music, and fun. Trust me, I’ve fought Planet Robobot‘s final boss multiple times before in the past. That fight was awesome and fun.
And Kirby games are mostly about fun!
Seriously the main protagonist just wants to have a good day and then evil shows up to ruin it on multiple occasions for some reason…
In Kirby, the little details count, too. One of the things I appreciate in Nintendo franchises are the small things they have in their games. I already praised the artstyle the games have, but I should elaborate beyond the point that “it’s really adorable!!!!”.
The Kirby series always has a colorful and simplistic artstyle ever since it entered the home console world. The character designs are easy to memorize, and the environments are quite simple. But at the same time, it adds to the cuteness… Wait… Crap, I got onto that point again!
What’s also great though is how it isn’t afraid to experiment every now and again. Kirby’s Dream land 3 is still one of the best late-era SNES games with its crayon-colored art. When I was younger, Kirby’s Epic Yarn wowed me with the patches and stitches in the land. And while I’m not the biggest claymation aficionado (please don’t kill me), Kirby and the Rainbow Curse looks pretty great too.
And the modern games look great too, even though they follow a similar artstyle. Like I said before, they’re colorful. Every area looks bright and peppy, perfectly fitting the joyful atmosphere of the Kirby series. Little touches here and there only add more to the experience, such as the enemies occasionally messing around with the enviornment around them. And falling asleep on the job… D’aww…
Speaking of “little” details, for whatever reason, the developers added boss descriptions on the last four titles. It’s less of a detail and more of the origin of the “DEEP KIRB LORE”.
…Okay, Kirby doesn’t have the deepest lore in the world (maybe it does!), jokes aside. But those boss descriptions (particularly those of the recent final bosses) add quite a bit to what’s already established in-universe. Sometimes they reveal the origin story of said bosses, making what seemed like a one-note villain a little more interesting.
The Kirby series has a great cast, too. Kirby is an obvious reason to love the series. I mean look at him.
Then we have King Dedede! Despite being called a Nintendo “Villain”, that role has shifted into an Anti-hero/rival. It’s kind of interesting, since you could kind of call it character development that has spanned all of the main series games. Also ever since 4Kids dubbed Hoshi no Kirby (Kirby Right Back At’Cha!) every Kirby fan can’t stop thinking of his amazing accent in that dub.
The Mysterious Meta Knight is my personal favorite! He’s just so cool! He has a cool design, a more serious personality foiling Kirby and Dedede’s attitudes, and has a cape that doubles as bat wings! You can’t get much cooler than that! He also got a cool voice in Super Smash Bros Brawl.
And many others, too! My personal favorite is Bandana Waddle Dee! He originally started as a minor character in Super Star (only appearing in ONE minigame!) but then got more roles starting from Super Star Ultra, where he was… A joke boss. An extremely loyal one at that! He then was given a playable role in Return to Dreamland, where he’s given the Spear ability, my personal favorite. Also he can spin his spear like a helicopter. It shouldn’t be logically possible but who cares that’s cute.
I can’t even come up with a good ending for this article, purely because I can’t say anything more about the Kirby series as of now. It’s just an incredibly solid series of games that remains consistent in quality even to this day if you ask me.
It’s hard trying to make games. While I’m not a game developer myself, there are loads of struggles that go into game creation. Thus, it’s always hard to keep games good. This is only reinforcing how much I love Kirby, isn’t it?
…Yeah, it is.