From Pop Star to Dream Land: The Story of Kirby

My favorite video games month continues on, with the story of one of my favorite characters!

Previously, on Allison’s Written Words…

My favorite video games month kicked off last week with one of my favorite fighting games of all time, the sequel to a long-running series that combines Nintendo All-Stars and Mortal Kombat to create something with less actual violence, and more…cartoonish violence.  The game’s earliest start in boxy graphics form on the Nintendo 64 led to a sequel whose look and animation style set the tone for which the series in all the games that followed that sequel.

Today, we’re looking at the story of one of those Nintendo All-Stars, one of my personal favorite video game characters, who earned his place among that elite group with his own series of games.

A Placeholder Character: Kirby’s Story

 

 

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Kirby in 2020 Image: Wikipedia (By Source, Fair use)

Kirby made his video game debut in 1992, in Kirby’s Dream Land on the Nintendo Game Boy.  He was created by nineteen-year-old developer Masahiro Sakurai, who intended for Kirby to be merely a placeholder in the early stages of that game’s development.  Originally, his simplistic design was meant to be a fill in for the eventual hero, but was kept around when it was believed he served the character better.  Originally named “Popopo,” Kirby was chosen from a draft list of names.

Why was “Kirby” on a draft list of names?

He was named in honor of John Kirby, the attorney who represented Nintendo in 1984’s Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd., which alleged that Donkey Kong was a trademark infringement of Universal’s King Kong, despite Universal proving that their giant ape was in the public domain in a different case, Universal City Studios, Inc. v. RKO General, Inc. case. The “guttural-sounding” name felt like a nice humorous contrast to the cheerful nature of the character receiving the name.

Even more amusing? His original name was “Popopo.”

From that early “afterthought” status, Kirby has gone on to star in over twenty games of his own, moving across Nintendo platforms, sticking around for the evolution of the console’s biggest and brightest stars.  Since 1999, Kirby’s voice has been depicted by Makiko Ohmoto (as well as two other female voice actors prior to 1999), and he primarily laughs and says “HIIIIII!”

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Image: GameSpot

 

Kirby’s abilities as a video game character allow for him to expand his body with air and fly, inhale enemies and shoot them at obstacles and other enemies, or inhale enemies and copy their abilities (beginning with Kirby’s Dream Land 2).  Like Mario has Bowser/King Koopa as an emeny, Kirby has run-ins with King Dedede and the mysterious Meta Knight, who is actually a hero, depending on the game.

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Image: Amazon
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Image: Wikipedia

Cheerful and innocent (and a bit hungry), Kirby can be bold and brave in the moment before switching back to innocent again.  His North American appearance is different from his depiction in Japan – striking and bold versus relaxed.  The reason behind his “battle ready” expression in North America is that he appeals to a wider audience.

Evil, bold, brash, hungry – he’s cute in every form!

Kirby

Especially this form.  He is super cute with a sword!

My Experience With Kirby

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Image: Wikipedia

I first played a Kirby game when I bought Kirby’s Dream Land for Game Boy.  I bought it in fourth grade (in 1993), while I was at Toys R Us with my dad and brother – I thought the graphics on the box looked “cute” (I was ten, don’t judge!).  I remember only knowing Kirby as a white, ghost-like creature, based on the box art and the game having the color of pea soup.

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Image: From video – “Kirby’s Dream Land” (1992) [GB], uploaded by stormspirit
I remember years later, playing Super Smash Bros. and being mind blown that Kirby was actually pink.  I’ve always loved the character, but I didn’t buy many video games as a kid, so I didn’t play alot of Kirby’s games, aside from the first Game Boy game, and then Kirby’s Adventure on Nintendo (I rented that when I was ten years old, and own it on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console).

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Image: Wikipedia

Of course, I’ve played the Super Smash Bros. games, and played (and beat) Kirby Star Allies on Nintendo Switch in 2018.  That game was alot of fun – enemies become friends, and just because you beat the game initially, doesn’t mean its all over.  I have to go back and try some of the new features that were unlocked when I beat the game.  I just found out there is a Kirby game that came out in 2019 on the Switch, and, well…I’m going to have to look into it.  🙂

Though I loved Kirby in his earliest Game Boy and Nintendo adventures, he became one of my favorite Nintendo characters because of Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee.  When I play Melee, I play as him in Adventure Mode.  I remember when I started the Subspace Emissary story mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, I wasn’t happy until Kirby was a playable character.

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The Evolution of Kirby

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From Video “Evolution of Kirby in 2D Games (1992-2019)”. Uploaded via Nintendo Central

YouTube channel Nintendo Unity put together a great video highlighting Kirby’s evolution, from his Game Boy beginnings to his allied adventures with past enemies on the Nintendo Switch.  It is a funny, and dare I say, adorable evolution.

There’s also an evolution of “Evil Kirby,” if there ever was such a thing!

And Now, You!

Do you like Kirby and his adventures?  Which is your favorite Kirby game, or one he is featured in?

And how about those cute victory dances?

Since I focused on one of my favorite video game characters this week, I’d love to know what YOUR favorite video game character is, be it from the classic gaming era, or even of the current gaming world.

Next week, favorite video game month continues with another favorite of my Nintendo-playing youth, and another member of the “All-Stars” getting his own game in the Super Nintendo era.  This one is particularly special, since it was my first Super Nintendo game.  Despite loving this game, and so much determination, I have yet to beat it.

It’s a recurring theme of my gaming life.

Have a great day!

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