Kirby is a pink puffball from Dream Land and is the hero of the Kirby franchise created by Masahiro Sakurai. Since his debut in Kirby’s Dream Land in 1992, Kirby has starred in 17 other games. Kirby has also been featured in the Super Smash Bros. franchise (also created by Masahiro Sakurai) as a playable character. Kirby has been in various other media as well, such as various manga and even a series of light novels. A television show featuring Kirby called Kirby: Right Back At Ya! aired for 100 episodes. In Japan, there is an official chain of restaurants completely themed after the Kirby franchise called Kirby Café.
Concept and Creation
Kirby had originally retained his image by the name of Popopo and was to appear in the original concept game titled ' Twinkle Popopo'. He was set into programing as an incomplete placeholder for the main character, featured only as a blob sprite in the early development, of what would know be known as the first entry of Kirby in the series of games to come. However, in the final release for the public in 1992, he become well accepted in Japanese title release "Hosi no Kābī" (translated as "Kirby of the Stars"). When given the choice of character design, game creator Masahiro Sakurai preferred Kirby's placeholder mold over the originally intended concept design.
Kirby has the ability to inhale objects or enemies. If an enemy with a unique power is inhaled, Kirby can swallow the enemy and steal its power. Inhaled enemies and objects can also be spit back out to deal damage. Mini-bosses can be inhaled after they are defeated. Kirby can also fly by filling himself with air and flapping his stubby arms.
In Kirby Super Star, Kirby can substitute his current power for an ally version of the swallowed enemy who would be controlled by the computer or the second player. In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby could turn his power into a crystal. The crystal could be thrown at enemies to make a combination crystal which Kirby could inhale to get a combination power. In Kirby: Squeak Squad, Kirby would encounter powers contained in bubbles. These powers could be stored in Kirby’s stomach (the DS’s touch screen). The player could use the touch screen to drag one power to another to combine powers.
List of some of Kirby’s Copy Abilities
Kirby is capable of inhaling a number of enemies at a time and may inherit a varied ability from the previous inhaled foe. Exhaling the foe simply redirects their shape as a star.
- Animal - Kirby wears an animal fur. Kirby attacks with a slash attack. Kirby can dig through dirt.
- Beam - Kirby wears a jester hat. Kirby attacks by whipping out an electric chain.
- Bomb - Kirby wears a blue Santa hat. Kirby can throw bombs or set bombs down on the ground.
- Bubble - Kirby has a crown of bubbles. Kirby attacks with a bubble wand that shoots bubbles. The bubbles turn enemies into abilities inside bubbles.
- Fireball - Kirby has a crown of flames and flames on his arms. Kirby turns into a fast moving ball of flame. Can break metal blocks.
- Cook - Kirby wears a chef’s hat. Kirby takes out a pot, and all enemies on screen jump in and are turned into food. Can only be used once.
- Copy - Kirby wears a high-tech visor. He sends out a short-range scanning beam that will automatically copy the ability of any enemy it touches for Kirby to use. (If the enemy has no ability to copy, the beam simply destroys them.)
- Crash - Kirby flashes white. He turns himself into a smart bomb that destroys every enemy on the screen. One time use.
- Cupid - Kirby has a halo and angel wings. Kirby shoots and arrow that can be charged up. Kirby can hover.
- Cutter - Kirby wears a helmet with horns. Kirby attacks using boomerangs. Only 2 boomerangs can be thrown at a time. Can cut strings.
- Fighter - Kirby wears a red headband. Kirby attacks using various fighting moves, including jabs, uppercuts, and a charged projectile.
- Fire - Kirby wears a crown of fire. Kirby attacks by breathing fire. The fire can melt ice or metal.
- Ghost - Kirby wears a sheet with eye holes. Kirby attacks by rushing into enemies and possessing them. The player can then control the enemy or release it.
- Hammer - Kirby holds a hammer. Kirby attacks by swinging the hammer. He can also throw the hammer for a powerful ranged attack, but he gives up the ability by doing so. Can break metal blocks. Can be used underwater. Can hit pegs.
- Hi-Jump - Kirby wears a cape. Kirby attacks by jumping high and landing with a shockwave.
- Ice- Kirby wears a crown of ice crystals. Kirby attacks by breathing ice, turning enemies into ice cubes which can be kicked. The ice can freeze water or lava.
- Laser - Kirby wears an eye gadget. Kirby attacks with a laser that bounces off walls.
- Magic - Kirby wears a magician’s top hat. Kirby attacks by making doves appear, shooting playing cards and making a jack-in-a-box appear. The cards can cut strings.
- Smash - Can only be obtained by beating and inhaling Master Hand. Kirby can use the hammer, stone, a cutter attack, and a punching attack.
- Metal - Kirby becomes covered in metal. Kirby cannot be damaged by regular enemies, but moves slower. Kirby can turn into a ball, allowing him to roll down slopes.
- Mini - Kirby becomes tiny. That’s it.
- Mirror - Kirby wears a red and blue jester's cap. He can attack by sending out a short-range stream of mirror shards with his wand, or by making a quick mirror image of himself. Both techniques reflect enemy projectiles. Can cut strings.
- Missile- Kirby has a target on the top of his head. Kirby attacks by turning into a rocket that the player can guide. Can break metal blocks.
- Mike - Kirby goes through three different appearances: wearing headphones and yelling into a radio microphone, wearing a white cap and yelling into a megaphone, and wearing a mohawk and yelling into a rock concert mic. Each instance has the same effect: Kirby yells so loudly that all enemies on the screen explode. After the third use, this ability disappears.
- Needle - Kirby wears a spike cap. Kirby attacks by encasing himself with spikes.
- Ninja - Kirby wears a helmet with Japanese style hair. Kirby can throw shuriken or create an explosion. Kirby can also walk on water and cling to walls. The explosion changes to water type if Kirby is on water.
- Paint - Kirby wears a gray cap backwards. He grabs a paint bucket and paintbrush and fills the whole screen with colors, damaging every enemy on the screen. Also used in the boss fight with Chameleo Arm in Kirby Super Star to counteract his camouflage. One time use.
- Parasol - Kirby holds a parasol. Kirby attacks by whacking people with the parasol. He can also use the parasol to slow his descent in mid-air and to shield himself from the front.
- Plasma - Kirby wears a crown of green electricity. Kirby creates a circle of electric energy around him. Can send electricity on certain surfaces. He builds up power by quickly moving back and forth (a technique intended to replicate the act of building up static electricity by rubbing your feet against a carpet).
- Sleep- Kirby wears a sleeping cap. Kirby cannot attack for a few seconds while he sleeps. Sometimes sleeping will heal Kirby.
- Stone - Kirby wears a helmet that looks like the ninja cap. Kirby can turn into a stone. Can hit pegs.
- Suplex - Kirby wears a blue headband, and his skin tone turns slightly darker. He can dash forward to grab objects or enemies, then toss or slam them in various ways like German suplexes and piledrivers. It works very similarly to the Throw ability from Kirby's Adventure, but Suplex is the name given to this ability in Kirby Super Star.
- Sword - Kirby holds a sword. Kirby attacks using sword slashes. Can cut strings. Can be used underwater.
- Throw - Kirby wears a blue headband. Kirby can suck enemies toward him, then throw them. Can break metal blocks.
- Tornado - Kirby has a crown of swirling air. Kirby can turn into a tornado which the player can guide.
- UFO- Kirby is in a UFO. Kirby attacks using a charge laser, or the Beam power. Kirby can hover. Can be used underwater.
- Wheel - Kirby wears a red cap. Kirby attacks by turning into a wheel and rolling across the ground. In Kirby Squeak Squad, if the wheel rolls onto ice or electricity, the element will change.
- Wing - Kirby wears Native American feathers on his head as well as some red facepaint. He sends out small feathers as a weak projectile attack, but he can also perform powerful aerial diving attacks. This ability also fundamentally changes the way Kirby's flight mechanics work: he gains more horizontal velocity and doesn't need to inhale before taking flight.
- Yo-Yo - Kirby wears a blue cap backwards. He attacks by swinging a yo-yo and by breakdancing.
Bandana Waddle Dee
“I'm glad I can keep up with you out there, Kirby. Kinda makes me feel like a real hero, y'know?”
― Bandana Waddle Dee • Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Bandana Waddle Dee is Kirby's best friend, and supports him on his adventures, either by giving him food in Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Kirby: Planet Robobot, or fighting alongside him in Kirby's Return to Dream Land and Kirby and the Forgotten Land. In Kirby: Super Star Ultra, Bandana Waddle Dee is King Dedede's most loyal subject, and fights Kirby out of loyalty to the King, but that doesn't seem to get in the way of their friendship considering Dedede is also on good terms with Kirby.
“Planet Popstar's destined rivals!” That's how King Dedede usually describes this special relationship, so he was crestfallen when he arrived in the new world and couldn't find Kirby.”
― Destined Rivals figure description • Kirby and the Forgotten Land
One of the many common misconceptions surrounding the Kirby series is the idea that King Dedede is the main antagonist of the entire series, and is to Kirby what Bowser is to Mario. However, this idea is demonstrably false and untrue. Most of the battles Dedede has with Kirby are when he's being possessed, brainwashed, or literally puppeted on strings against his will.
Ever since officially ending their grudge once and for all in Kirby: Super Star Ultra's Revenge of the King, Dedede is seen to be on friendly terms with Kirby, happily joining him on many adventures and even saving each other's lives. Many official artwork and books set in the games' world also depict him as one of Kirby's closest friends, and outside the times he's been possessed, most of the times he faces Kirby out of his own volition are just challenges and competitions (EX: Gourmet Race and Kirby Fighters 2). And their friendly rivalry is a mutual one, as Kirby is always quick to accept Dedede's challenges without hesitation, and is also sometimes shown to playfully tease the King back in media outside the games.
He and Dedede were having a wonderful time playing make-believe. They took turns swapping different masks and rolling on the floor with laughter at each other’s impressions.
“'I’m Great King Dedede! And I’m the biggest EATER in Dream Land… when I’m not lazing around!’”
“Hey, that’s rude! Let’s see how you like it then! 'I’m widdle bitty Kirby. And I’m so saaad because I can never beat King Dedede in anything!’”
“Ah! How mean! I don’t sound like that at all!”
― Kirby and King Dedede teasing each other • Kirby: Come On Over to Merry Magoland! (translated by The Starcutter and the Lying Wizard)
They are the only people to each other they genuinely see as rivals, not only because they've had the longest history with each other, but also because they're very similar people at their core. Both are optimistic and carefree gluttons who enjoy spending most of their days eating and napping, and will fight to uphold that peaceful lifestyle when it is threatened by an outside force. Both are incredibly powerful, but can also be rash and impulsive in their decisions at times. And finally, they're both able to attract a lot of people that genuinely admire them through their charisma (with Bandana Waddle Dee seeming a bit torn between the two). They are able to understand each other better than anyone else, and that's what makes their "destined rivalry" so special.
“Kirby... I'll leave the rest... to you...”
― King Dedede • Kirby: Moretsu Pupupu Hour, "Invasion of the Shadow Army" (translated by Kirby Manga Translated)
Dedede respects Kirby's strength and capabilities as a rival and treats him as an equal. Given he and Kirby have had the longest history with each other in the series, Dedede understands better than anyone else that Kirby can always be relied on to save the day, such as in Kirby's Adventure and Kirby: Triple Deluxe. His knowing grin when Kirby goes Hypernova in the final battle against Flowered Sectonia in Kirby: Triple Deluxe says it all.
“I'm stuffed! I don't think I can eat another bite!”
“You're not thinking, Kirby! I'm stuffed too, but you gotta remember the hotel's got an all-you-can-eat snack-bar too! So I'm gonna cram in some more!”
“I just remembered! Okay, I'm gonna run alllll the way to the hotel to empty out my stomach some!”
“That's the spirit! I'll race ya, Kirby!”
― Kirby and King Dedede bonding over their shared love of food • Kirby: Come On Over to Merry Magoland! (translated by The Starcutter and the Lying Wizard)
Dedede's relationship with Kirby is actually pretty similar to that of a big brother's. He may tease, compete, and be a little jealous of him from time to time, but at the end of the day, he cares for the kid and has a lot in common with him (such as their optimistic carefree and gluttonous personalities). When Kirby tumbles down the stairs in the good ending of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Dedede is concerned for his safety, in Kirby's Return to Dream Land and its remake's title screen, Dedede will try to amuse Kirby with a silly face, in Kirby's Dream Collection's intro animation, Dedede launches Kirby by hitting him with his hammer, not as an attack, but because Kirby himself eagerly asked him to, like a Bros. Attack you'd see in the Mario & Luigi series, and according to a figurine description in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Dedede was crestfallen without Kirby when he first arrived in the New World. His brother-like relationship with Kirby is adorable, and even kind of confirmed from the words of the series director himself! (He was specifically talking about Dedede in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, but since Dedede has grown even softer around Kirby since then, it still applies.)
In Kirby Super Star Ultra's Revenge of the King, Dedede gives Kirby a hammer in order to have a fair match as equals (much like Meta Knight usually does). According to various pause descriptions for the Hammer ability, Kirby has kept that same hammer since then and inherited it, and in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Dedede even gives Kirby an upgrade for the Hammer ability. The fact that Dedede trusts Kirby with his hand-me-downs is extremely wholesome. What's even more wholesome, is the fact that, in the original Japanese text even predating Revenge of the King, it is said that Dedede is the one who taught Kirby how to use the Hammer ability in the first place! This is further supported by Dedede and Hammer Kirby sharing a lot of the same moves in the games. This is also likely one of the reasons why Dedede takes great pride in his "destined rivalry" with Kirby, even though he always loses to him.
Even very early in the series history, in, Kirby's Dream Land, where their rivalry is born, Kirby is willing to comfort Dedede after his loss in the secret ending, and does so again in the normal ending of Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble.
Much like with Dedede, Meta Knight was initially an antagonist who is now often seen as one of Kirby's most prominent friends and ally, who still battles him from time to time as a respectful friendly rival. However, unlike with Dedede, usually Meta Knight is more distant towards Kirby, being mysterious and enigmatic and all.
Super Smash Bros.
Kirby is a playable character in all of the Super Smash Bros. games and has left several marks in the games of the Smash Bros. series. Kirby is always playable at default.
Kirby retain various specialized movesets of is his own, such as inhale
Kirby uses a moveset similar to the Master Hand moveset in all three games, but instead of a punch as the neutral B attack, Kirby has the Inhale attack. Kirby’s other attacks are Hammer (In Melee and Brawl only) as side-B, Final Cutter as up-B, and Stone and down-B. Kirby’s inhale can be used on all characters besides for Kirby to steal the neutral-B move of that character. Once a move is gained, Kirby can no longer use the inhale ability. Kirby can get rid of his current ability by taunting.
Kirby's Meme Presence
The BGM tracks from various Kirby games have been used in the creation of many popular Japanese "Madness" videos, also called MADs, using compiled footage from various anime, game and live action to create presentations cued to the music. The music from the "Gourmet Race" minigame in Kirby Super Star, and the "Sand Canyon" stage of Kirby's Dream Land are particularly popular, though the music from any stage seems to be fair game.
The video from this Giant Bomb news post is an example of the "Gourmet Race" meme in action.
- Kirby's name may have connections in its origin from the Kirby Company, known for manufacturing vacuums in their production, as it may refer to the character's abilities to inhale and impale foes with intense wind-powered might.
- Kirby is known to cause intense squealing, various intonations of "D'awwwww!" and restoration of the ability to feel childlike wonder again after so, so long.