Kirby (series)

Kirby is a series of action-platforming video games starring the titular Kirby, a round pink creature who defeats his foes by inhaling them and gaining their powers. The Kirby series was created by Masahiro Sakurai, and most games are developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo, making Kirby a second-party series of Nintendo. Kirby's Dream Land is the first game in the series, released in 1992. Complementing the cutesy nature of the series characters and settings, the Kirby series was designed to be enjoyed by all ages, with gameplay mechanics generally leaning towards being easy for inexperienced players to understand, while offering lots of modulation of difficulty and depth of mechanics to cater to more seasoned players. This design philosophy is summarized by current series director Shinya Kumazaki as "approachable yet deep".[1] This philosophy arguably extends beyond the gameplay and into the story, setting, and general lore of the games as well, since the surface-level plot of games tends to be very simple, but lots of hidden nuances can be found if the player digs deep enough.

New Kirby Series Logo.png
The logo for the Kirby series, as of Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

GameplayEdit

 
Typical gameplay in the main Kirby series involves Kirby battling opponents using his inhale or various Copy Abilities to make it to the end of the stage and/or level. This particular image is from Green Greens in Kirby Super Star Ultra.

The core Kirby series consists of action/adventure/platformer games broken down into largely linear levels and/or stages, where the main goal in each stage is to either get Kirby or another player character to the end of the stage (typically taking the form of a star-studded doorway) or defeat a large opponent in the way, with some stages requiring both. Kirby's unique abilities - his inhale, hover, and Copy Ability - are what define how the stages and enemies therein are approached and dealt with. In particular, due to Kirby's typically unlimited flight capability, platforming is a lesser focus compared to battling enemies, exploring complex terrain, and solving stage puzzles. There are often many ways to approach any given obstacle, though specific optional tasks often require certain abilities and/or items to perform. While traversing stages, the player needs to be mindful of Kirby's health meter, which decreases whenever he touches or is attacked by an enemy or touches a harmful hazard. Letting the health meter run out causes Kirby to be defeated, and have to restart the area (or stage if no extra lives remain). Health can typically be restored by picking up a food item in the stage.

Most main-series titles feature at least one Sub-Game, which can be played within the main game, or outside it in a menu. Unlike the main game, these can vary wildly in playstyle, from quick-time games to racing games. Many of these are competitive, and can be played with more than one player. These also tend to vary wildly in size, with some being minor diversions, and others being practically full-fledged games on their own. In some games, after Kirby finishes a stage, he plays a Goal Game which can earn him extra lives. Up until Kirby and the Forgotten Land, every main series game was a side-scroller played in two dimensions (even if 3D graphics were used to draw them), though limited 3D interactions were often present in these games starting with Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards.

Spin-off titles divert from the main series in a similar manner to Sub-Games, but are much larger in scope and entirely separate titles. These titles often experiment with other genres. The most prominent spin-off titles include Kirby Air Ride - a full-fledged racing game, Kirby: Canvas Curse - a 'touch platformer' where Kirby has to be guided using the Nintendo DS stylus, and Kirby's Epic Yarn - a more traditional platformer, but with fundamentally different mechanics to that of the main series.

GamesEdit

Main seriesEdit

These are the thirteen main platformers in the Kirby series. They are most easily distinguished through the use of the full series name, "Kirby of the Stars", in their Japanese, Korean, and Chinese titles. These games are traditional platformers that feature Kirby's signature inhaling action and (starting with Kirby's Adventure) Copy Ability.[2][3][4]

Whether remakes count as individual entries in the main series seems to vary. The developers stated in a Miiverse post that they consider Kirby: Triple Deluxe the tenth mainline Kirby game, which would exclude the two previous remakes.[3] Furthermore, when it was decided that Kirby Star Allies would include one Dream Friend from each main series game, remakes were excluded.[4] However, the internal codename of Kirby and the Forgotten Land is "Kirby15", which counts the two prior remakes of main series games (as it would be the thirteenth mainline game otherwise).

Boxart Title Console Original release date Notes
  Kirby's Dream Land Game Boy   April 27, 1992
  August 1, 1992
  December 1992
  December 1992
  Kirby's Adventure Nintendo Entertainment System   March 23, 1993
  May 1, 1993
  December 1, 1993
  December 1, 1993
  Kirby's Dream Land 2 Game Boy   March 21, 1995
  May 1, 1995
  July 31, 1995
  July 31, 1995
  Kirby Super Star Super Nintendo Entertainment System   March 21, 1996
  September 3, 1996
  January 23, 1997
  January 23, 1997
Inconsistently but occasionally known as Kirby's Fun Pak in the European translations.
  Kirby's Dream Land 3 Super Nintendo Entertainment System   November 27, 1997
  March 27, 1998
Never saw an original release on the SNES in Europe or Australia, but was later released in those regions via Virtual Console and Nintendo Switch Online.
  Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards Nintendo 64   March 24, 2000
  June 26, 2000
  June 22, 2001
  June 22, 2001
  Kirby & The Amazing Mirror Game Boy Advance   April 15, 2004
  July 2, 2004
  October 18, 2004
  December 23, 2004
  Kirby: Squeak Squad Nintendo DS   November 2, 2006
  December 4, 2006
  March 1, 2007
  June 22, 2007
  September 13, 2007
Known as Kirby: Mouse Attack in British English.
  Kirby's Return to Dream Land Wii   October 24, 2011
  October 27, 2011
  November 25, 2011
  December 1, 2011
  September 6, 2012
Known as Kirby's Adventure Wii in the European translations.
  Kirby: Triple Deluxe Nintendo 3DS   January 11, 2014
  April 17, 2014
  May 2, 2014
  May 16, 2014
  May 16, 2014
  Kirby: Planet Robobot Nintendo 3DS   April 28, 2016
  April 28, 2016
  June 10, 2016
  June 10, 2016
  June 11, 2016
  Kirby Star Allies Nintendo Switch   March 16, 2018
  March 16, 2018
  March 16, 2018
  March 16, 2018
  April 26, 2018
This is the first main series title to be released on the same day in most regions.
  Kirby and the Forgotten Land Nintendo Switch March 25, 2022 This is the first main series title to be a 3D platformer rather than a 2D one.

Spin-off gamesEdit

These are games that do not follow the traditional formula of the main series, and take on a wide variety of genres.

Boxart Title Console Genre Original release date Notes
  Kirby's Pinball Land Game Boy Pinball   November 27, 1993
  November 30, 1993
  December 1, 1993
  1993
  Kirby's Dream Course Super Nintendo Entertainment System Sports   September 21, 1994
  February 1, 1995
  August 24, 1995
  August 24, 1995
  Kirby's Avalanche Super Nintendo Entertainment System Puzzle   February 1, 1995
  April 25, 1995
Known as Kirby's Ghost Trap in the European translations. Based on Super Puyo Puyo. Never saw a release in Japan.
  Kirby's Block Ball Game Boy Action   December 14, 1995
  May 13, 1996
  August 29, 1996
  Kirby's Star Stacker Game Boy Puzzle   January 25, 1997
  April 7, 1997
  October 20, 1997
  October 20, 1997
  Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble Game Boy Color Motion-controlled action   August 23, 2000
  April 11, 2001
Never saw an original release on the Game Boy Color in Europe or Australia, but was later released in those regions via Nintendo Switch Online.
  Kirby Air Ride Nintendo GameCube Racing   July 11, 2003
  October 13, 2003
  February 20, 2004
  March 30, 2004
  Kirby: Canvas Curse Nintendo DS Touch-controlled platformer   March 24, 2005
  June 13, 2005
  November 25, 2005
  April 6, 2006
Known as Kirby: Power Paintbrush in British English.
  Kirby's Epic Yarn Wii Platformer   October 14, 2010
  October 17, 2010
  February 24, 2011
  February 25, 2011
  September 1, 2011
  Kirby Mass Attack Nintendo DS Touch-controlled platformer   August 4, 2011
  September 19, 2011
  October 27, 2011
  October 28, 2011
  Kirby Fighters Deluxe Nintendo 3DS (eShop) Fighting   July 23, 2014
  August 29, 2014
  September 24, 2014
  February 13, 2015
  February 13, 2015
Based on Kirby Fighters from Kirby: Triple Deluxe.
  Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe Nintendo 3DS (eShop) Rhythm/platformer   July 23, 2014
  August 29, 2014
  September 24, 2014
  February 13, 2015
  February 13, 2015
Based on Dedede's Drum Dash from Kirby: Triple Deluxe.
  Kirby and the Rainbow Curse Wii U Touch-controlled platformer   January 22, 2015
  February 20, 2015
  May 8, 2015
  May 9, 2015
A spiritual successor to Kirby: Canvas Curse. Known as Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush in British English.
  Team Kirby Clash Deluxe Nintendo 3DS (eShop) Action/role-playing   April 12, 2017
  April 13, 2017
  April 13, 2017
  April 13, 2017
Based on Team Kirby Clash from Kirby: Planet Robobot.
  Kirby's Blowout Blast Nintendo 3DS (eShop) Platformer   July 4, 2017
  July 4, 2017
  July 6, 2017
  July 6, 2017
  July 6, 2017
Based on Kirby 3D Rumble from Kirby: Planet Robobot.
  Kirby Battle Royale Nintendo 3DS Action/fighting   November 3, 2017
  November 4, 2017
  November 30, 2017
  January 19, 2018
  February 1, 2018
This is the first game in the series to feature full online multiplayer.
  Super Kirby Clash Nintendo Switch (eShop) Action/role-playing   September 4, 2019
  September 5, 2019
  September 5, 2019
  September 5, 2019
  September 5, 2019
A successor to Team Kirby Clash and Team Kirby Clash Deluxe.
  Kirby Fighters 2 Nintendo Switch (eShop) Fighting   September 23, 2020
  September 24, 2020
  September 24, 2020
  September 24, 2020
  September 24, 2020
A successor to Kirby Fighters and Kirby Fighters Deluxe.
  Kirby's Dream Buffet Nintendo Switch (eShop) Action/racing August 17, 2022

Remakes, compilations, and portsEdit

These games are re-releases of older games for newer systems, often enhancing graphics and adding additional content.

Boxart Title Console Original release date Notes
  Kirby's Star Stacker Super Famicom   June 25, 1999
A remake of the Game Boy title of the same name. Never saw an original release on the SNES outside of Japan, but was later released in other regions via Nintendo Switch Online.
  Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land Game Boy Advance   October 25, 2002
  December 2, 2002
  September 26, 2003
  January 27, 2004
A remake of Kirby's Adventure.
  Kirby Super Star Ultra Nintendo DS   September 22, 2008
  November 6, 2008
  November 13, 2008
  November 27, 2008
  September 18, 2009
A remake of Kirby Super Star.
  3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure Nintendo 3DS   November 17, 2011
  November 17, 2011
  November 17, 2011
  April 25, 2012
A recreation of Kirby's Adventure, featuring the same spritework and gameplay but with enhanced color, shading, and 3D effects. This version also removes the frame drops the original version had.
  Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition Wii   July 19, 2012
  September 16, 2012
A compilation of Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby's Adventure, Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards that also includes an original game mode called New Challenge Stages, a soundtrack CD and 45 page book containing artwork and other behind-the-scenes information covering Kirby's history, released to celebrate the Kirby 20th Anniversary. Never saw a release in Europe or Australia.
  Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn Nintendo 3DS   March 7, 2019
  March 8, 2019
  March 8, 2019
  March 9, 2019
  April 12, 2019
An enhanced port of Kirby's Epic Yarn.
  Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe Nintendo Switch February 24, 2023 A remake of Kirby's Return to Dream Land.

Other gamesEdit

The following Kirby games are small spin-off or peripheral titles. They are not considered to be part of the core Kirby series by Nintendo or HAL Laboratory.

Boxart Title Console Genre Original release date Notes
  Kirby's Toy Box Super Famicom
(Satellaview)
Various   February 8, 1996
A collection of mini-games broadcast over the St.GIGA network, exclusive to Japan.
  Kirby Slide Game Boy Advance (e-Reader card) Puzzle   December 2003
A Kirby-themed puzzle slider mini-game.
Kirby: Sparkling Medal Land[5] Arcade machine Various   March 2006[6]
A licensed medal throwing Kirby game by Atlus that includes 15 different minigames based on Kirby: Right Back at Ya!.
  Kirby: Magical Tower of Medal Land[7] Arcade machine Various   December 2007
A licensed Kirby game by Atlus. Mentioned in the Japanese version of Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition.
  Kirby: PakuPaku Gourmet Race Arcade machine Action   December 2021 (location test)
  October 2022 (general)
A licensed Kirby game distributed by Bandai Namco. The machine underwent a location test at namco Lazona Kawasaki between December 24, 2021 and January 10, 2022.[8] Later in 2022, Bandai Namco announced the game would roll out first to namco locations starting on October 24, 2022[9][10], followed by a more general rollout across game centers nationwide starting on November 16, 2022.[11]
The overall object of the game is to lob as many balls and (less abundant) Maxim Tomatoes as possible into Kirby's mouth, in two rounds (with points doubled for the second round) and a bonus "Goal Game".[12] The machine features a voiceover and clips of Kirby's voice, as well as music from Kirby Super Star including the Gourmet Race theme and the Invincible Candy music.[13]

Canceled gamesEdit

There are at least six known Kirby games that were under development at some point but were never released. They are regarded as canceled games.

Title Console Notes
Kid Kirby Super Nintendo A point-and-click platformer starring a young Kirby. Canceled due to poor sales of the Super NES Mouse and inability to be played with traditional joypad controls.
Kirby Ball 64 Nintendo 64 The first known 3D Kirby game. A prototype most likely originally meant to be a sequel to Kirby's Dream Course, shortly later retooled into Kirby's Air Ride.
Kirby's Air Ride Nintendo 64 A 3D racing game. Eventually released as Kirby Air Ride on the Nintendo GameCube.
Kirby Family Game Boy Color A set of sewing patterns based on Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, designed to be printed by an embroidery machine that connected to the Game Boy Color. Planned as the Kirby equivalent of Mario Family, but canceled due to a lack of interest.
Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble 2 Nintendo GameCube A planned follow-up title to Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble, which eventually dropped the Kirby name and became Roll-O-Rama before ultimately being scrapped. Had it been released, it would have been the first title to demonstrate the connectivity between the Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance.
Kirby for Nintendo GameCube Nintendo GameCube A 2.5D main-series game for Nintendo GameCube featuring a revamped Helper system based on that of Kirby Super Star, four-player multiplayer, and the camera perspective of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. It was scrapped due to issues designing levels playable in both single player and multiplayer. Had it released, it would have become the eighth mainline Kirby game. Three more builds followed, with only the last being released as Kirby's Return to Dream Land. The three unreleased builds are collectively referred to by fans as "the three lost Kirby games".

Main charactersEdit

Artwork Name Description
Kirby Kirby is the hero of the franchise and the primary playable character in each game (with one exception). His powers, which are vital to the gameplay of most installments, include inhaling objects and creatures in order to either spit them out again or steal their ability, as well as inflating himself, enabling him to fly. In most games, he must use his unique powers to save his homeland named Dream Land, the planet Popstar on which it is located or even the entire galaxy from the respective game's main antagonist.
King Dedede King Dedede is the self-proclaimed king of Dream Land and Kirby's archrival, though rarely the main antagonist. Although portrayed as greedy and selfish primarily in Kirby's Dream Land, where he steals all of Dream Land's food for himself, he often means well throughout the series, but ends up antagonizing Kirby due to a misunderstanding or being mind-controlled by the true villain. Once the misunderstanding has been resolved or the mind-control has been broken, however, he often ends up helping Kirby, most notably in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and Kirby's Return to Dream Land, where he is one of the game's main heroes.
Meta Knight An enigmatic character of ambiguous allegiance, Meta Knight repeatedly confronts Kirby during the latter's journeys, often challenging him to a duel. Although seemingly antagonistic towards Kirby, he serves as a stalwart ally to the pink puffball more often than not, and any misgivings they may have had over the sinking of the Halberd seem to have been mended. When Meta Knight is inclined to battle with Kirby, no matter the circumstance, he provides Kirby with a sword in order to force a fair fight. He is the leader of a group of warriors known as the Meta-Knights, who Kirby often has to battle against.
Bandana Waddle Dee A Waddle Dee who is distinguished only by his blue bandana, Bandana Waddle Dee is one of King Dedede's most loyal subjects, but is also very good friends with Kirby. He can wield both a Spear and a Parasol in combat with good efficacy, but he sometimes avoids fighting and aims to help the main characters by tossing them Assist Stars instead. He got his first major role in Kirby's Return to Dream Land, and he went on to become a recurring major character in the Kirby franchise.

The series has many other characters, some of which have rather significant presences in many games. More information can be found on the Character page.

SalesEdit

As of March 2024, the entire Kirby series has sold over 50.54 million copies worldwide.

For 30 years, the original Kirby's Dream Land had been the best-selling Kirby game of all time. Its sales numbers were surpassed by Kirby and the Forgotten Land by the end of September 2022.[14]

Game Sales numbers As of Reference(s)
Kirby's Dream Land 5.13 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby's Adventure 1.75 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby's Pinball Land 2.19 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby's Dream Course 0.369 million* March 12th, 1995 [16]
Kirby's Dream Land 2 2.36 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby's Block Ball 0.063 million* January 7th, 1996 [16]
Kirby Super Star 1.44 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby's Star Stacker 0.069 million* June 29th, 1997 [16]
Kirby's Dream Land 3 0.076 million* June 28th, 1998 [16]
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards 1.77 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble 1.23 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land 2.10 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby Air Ride 1.35 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror 1.47 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby: Canvas Curse 0.315 million* December 31st, 2006 [16]
Kirby: Squeak Squad 2.27 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby Super Star Ultra 2.99 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby's Epic Yarn 1.85 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby Mass Attack 1.22 million December 31st, 2014 [15]
Kirby's Return to Dream Land 1.93 million September 30th, 2023 [17]
Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition 0.246 million* December 29th, 2013 [16]
Kirby: Triple Deluxe 2.66 million December 31st, 2022 [15]
Kirby Fighters Deluxe 0.005 million* August 3rd, 2014 [16]
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse 0.092 million* December 27th, 2015 [16]
Kirby: Planet Robobot 1.64 million December 31st, 2022 [15]
Kirby Battle Royale 0.193 million* December 30th, 2018 [16]
Kirby Star Allies 4.38 million December 31st, 2022 [15]
Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn 0.025 million* June 30th, 2019 [16]
Kirby and the Forgotten Land 7.52 million March 31st, 2024 [18]
Kirby's Dream Buffet 0.019 million* September 25th, 2022 [16]
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe 1.82 million June 30th, 2023 [15]

Games marked with an * only have sales numbers in Japan available.

TriviaEdit

GalleryEdit

External linksEdit

References

  1. "The Many Dimensions of Kirby" presentation at GDC
  2. Iwata Asks about Kirby's Return to Dream Land, UK translation: "(Editor's note: the main Kirby series refers to the set of games that, in Japanese, have "Star Kirby" in their title. In these games, Kirby uses his signature Copy Ability of inhaling enemies to absorb their powers.)"
  3. 3.0 3.1 Miiverse post mentioning that Kirby: Triple Deluxe is the "tenth traditional Kirby platformer"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kotaku interview with Shinya Kumazaki about Kirby Star Allies; when asked about Dream Friends, he mentioned that "The rule was to select one character from each title in the main action games over the years, the so-called core Kirby games, the equivalent to numbered sequels."
  5. Archived Atlus products page
  6. Amusement Journal
  7. HAL Laboratory's Website
  8. Twitter link   (Wayback Machine snapshot) for the announcement; Twitter link   (Wayback Machine snapshot) showing the test machine in action
  9. 【BNAM公式】10月24日より順次稼働「星のカービィ ぱくぱくグルメレース」 PV - YouTube
  10. Twitter link   (Wayback Machine snapshot) of the namco rollout announcement; Twitter link   (Wayback Machine snapshot) calling back to the location test
  11. Twitter link   (Wayback Machine snapshot)
  12. Official website for Kirby: PakuPaku Gourmet Race (Wayback Machine snapshot)
  13. The Gourmet Race theme features prominently in promotional material for the game; other audio elements like the Invincible Candy theme are evident in unofficial videos of gameplay (from the Kawasaki location test and after official rollout).
  14. https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/pdf/2022/221108_8e.pdf
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 15.11 15.12 15.13 15.14 15.15 15.16 15.17 https://www.installbaseforum.com/forums/threads/nintendo-software-and-hardware-sales-data-from-1983-to-present.170/
  16. 16.00 16.01 16.02 16.03 16.04 16.05 16.06 16.07 16.08 16.09 16.10 https://sites.google.com/site/gamedatalibrary/game-search
  17. https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/pdf/2023/231108e.pdf
  18. https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/pdf/2024/240507_4e.pdf#page=18