Growing up, Nintendo products were all the rage. Many people have fond memories playing Wii Sports, swinging their remotes around wildly during a game of tennis. There’s one franchise that garnered a following but wasn’t exactly as mainstream as the Mario, Pokémon, and Legend of Zelda games. This franchise is one I cherished growing up (and still love to this day): the Kirby franchise, starring the titular adorable, pink, round puffball.
Many of the franchise’s games have a similar premise: Kirby journeys to save the kingdom of Dream Land, located on Planet Popstar, from malevolent forces. For some games, these forces reside in Dream Land itself or elsewhere on Popstar, and in other games, the forces originate from outside of Popstar. While Kirby may look like he can’t hurt a fly, that’s not entirely true, as he has the ability to inhale his foes and copy their abilities, which he uses to defeat his other enemies, both big and small.
Kirby originally debuted on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1992 with Kirby’s Dream Land, in which players battled some of the franchise’s most iconic bosses: the forest guardian Whispy Woods and hammer-wielding King Dedede. Over time, the franchise added new characters, including the suave, valiant Meta Knight and the playful Marx. The Kirby universe also continued to expand the series’ lore, which eventually expanded into exploring Kirby’s possible origins in Kirby Star Allies. Fans, old and young, have even taken it upon themselves to dissect the lore that has unraveled so far and try to piece together a possible timeline based on what has been revealed in the games.
Kirby also had a 100-episode anime series in the early 2000s titled Hoshi no Kābī, or Kirby: Right Back At Ya! (KRBAY). KRBAY followed Kirby, a descendant of the Star Warriors, who defeats a variety of “monsters,” a.k.a. bosses from the video games and entirely new creations. The monsters were created by Nightmare, the big villain at the time, who would sell his creations to customers like King Dedede, Dream Land’s selfish ruler who hated Kirby. Fellow Star Warrior Meta Knight sought to train Kirby for his eventual battle with Nightmare, but he also worked as one of Dedede’s bodyguards, which helped him gain insight into the monsters and Nightmare.
Playing the Kirby games was a highly memorable experience that I’ll always remember. Not only were the copy abilities (like Wing and Sword) so much fun to experiment with, but the lore was a blast to learn about and analyze. Plus, the games created the KRBAY series, which is responsible for the iconic Southern and Spanish accents of King Dedede and Meta Knight, respectively, that remain highly popular with the fans. Kirby still runs strong today, with Kirby’s Forgotten Land having a successful release just this past year and this year’s revamped version of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land. So, if you’re looking for a game, give Kirby a chance. You won’t regret it.