- This article is about internal storyline continuity, and should not be confused with Cannon.
Canon is a term used to designate events, objects, or characters that are indisputably part of a fictional narrative, and congruent with other stories in that narrative. In terms of the Kirby series, the term would be used to describe anything that has definitively occurred in the storyline of the main series. It should be noted however that, unlike a more traditional narrative, Kirby series canon is not completely consistent from one game to the next. HAL Laboratory has explained that they focus on "...providing new surprises while avoiding the establishment of immutable facts and settings that would constrain Kirby."
Canonicity within a title
A quick example of what is considered "canon" can be gleamed in the events of Kirby's Adventure (and Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land by extension). For instance, it can be said that Kirby ventured through several distinct areas on Popstar, fought seven foes in a specific order to obtain the shattered pieces of the Star Rod, then used the rod to battle Nightmare at the end of his journey, but it cannot be said that Kirby was whisked away to a Goal Game where he trampolined onto various cloud levels to gain points at the end of every stage, or that he used doors to enter each area of the land, despite that being what the player has Kirby doing during gameplay.
An example of what is not canon, though, is easily found in Kirby's Avalanche. In this game, Kirby consistently trash-talks his opponents before a round of Avalanche. In canon games, Kirby is almost entirely silent; when he does speak, he says one-word quotes like "Hi!", or, in the case of the anime, "Poyo!". He is virtually never seen rude in the games as well. The reason for this drastic change in tone is that the game is a localized version of Puyo Puyo, with Kirby inheriting protagonist Arle Nadja's sassy personality. As such, it is definitely not canon, and obviously does not reflect Kirby's personality in any way.
There is a distinction to be made between elements that exist within the setting of the universe, and elements that exist outside of the universe solely for the player's benefit; this is referred to as diegesis. For example, music that exists in the game universe (such as a song playing on a radio that the characters interact with) is "diegetic" sound, while background music that the player hears but the characters do not is "non-diegetic" sound. As a more basic example, in-game items such as Food and collectibles like Energy Spheres can be considered diegetic and thus canon, but collectible points, stars, or 1-Ups are not canon, and only serve as non-diegetic gameplay elements. By extension, any part of the game that breaks the fourth wall is also not considered canon.
Beyond this basic distinction, Sub-Games, other side activities, and spin-off entries might be internally congruent, but fail to fit anywhere in the main narrative, and as such, officially never occur in the story. An example of this would be the optional Bonus Chances that can be played after defeating a boss in Kirby's Dream Land 2.
Canonicity of alternate game modes
Unless otherwise specified by HAL, the events of the Main Mode in any given title are canonically what happened, and any Extra Modes are alternative, non-canon versions. This has been confirmed at least regarding Kirby: Planet Robobot, and is presumably the case in other games of the series as well.
|“||[...] Speaking of Meta Knight, here's a question about Meta Knightmare Returns. Is there any connection plotwise between this mode and the main game's Story Mode?
It's basically an alternate storyline. Meta Knightmare Returns is a kind of bonus mode that you unlock after finishing the main game, but that alone doesn't hold much appeal for a player so we made it into a "what if" scenario. [...]
While we're on the topic of Meta Knightmare Returns, Galacta Knight was supposed to be sealed away in a crystal, but he broke that seal and showed up again in The True Arena. Are Meta Knightmare Returns and The True Arena connected at all in relation to the story?
The True Arena is like another "what if" scenario, so you can't really consider everything to be connected. Furthermore, the extra-dimensional road that opens up when Galacta Knight appears transcends space-time, so it's difficult to give it a concrete place in the timeline. But if you consider the stages in which Galacta Knight appeared in the past three games, I think that will give you some food for thought.
— Miiverse posts made during Kirby: Planet Robobot Ask-a-thon Round 2 regarding canonicity of Meta Knightmare Returns and The True Arena; exchange between an interviewer and Shinya Kumazaki
As such, it can be presumed that all Extra Modes that are "what if" scenarios (including Meta Knightmare, Meta Knightmare Ultra, Dededetour!, Meta Knightmare Returns and Guest Star ???? Star Allies Go!), The Arenas, and The True Arenas are not considered canon. Exceptions can be found in modes that directly follow the events of the canon storyline, such as Heroes in Another Dimension, Isolated Isles: Forgo Dreams, and the Colosseum. However, that is not to say that certain elements appearing exclusively in Extra Modes don't canonically exist in the Kirby universe. For instance, Queen Sectonia owning the Dimension Mirror is only revealed within Dededetour!, but is considered canon within the greater storyline of Kirby: Triple Deluxe, and has been reaffirmed numerous times in later installments.
Canonicity between titles
It is sometimes difficult to determine which entries in the Kirby series are canon and which are not. Before its re-branding, the Kirby 25th Anniversary site listed each main series game, as opposed to spin-off titles in a chronology, but also included Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition, which may have only suggested that the games included in said collection were part of the main series. When it comes to spin-off titles, a few can be seen as being part of the overall storyline, but none have been confirmed by HAL to be so.
Despite this confusion, it is generally understood that any Kirby game which contains the words 星のカービィ / 星之卡比 / 별의 커비 (Kirby of the Stars) in its Japanese, Chinese or Korean title is a main series game.
The following is a list of every main series title. Remakes are considered to be the same story as the original.
- Kirby's Dream Land
- Kirby's Adventure / Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
- Kirby's Dream Land 2
- Kirby Super Star / Kirby Super Star Ultra
- Kirby's Dream Land 3
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
- Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
- Kirby: Squeak Squad
- Kirby's Return to Dream Land / Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe
- Kirby: Triple Deluxe
- Kirby: Planet Robobot
- Kirby Star Allies
- Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Series director Shinya Kumazaki has explained that there is no definitive timeline for the main Kirby series. However, the events in the games can nonetheless be connected to each other, as demonstrated by certain character relationships carrying over from previous titles, such as Magolor's redemption after the end of Kirby's Return to Dream Land, or Kirby and King Dedede consistently recognizing each other. As such, the chronology of the series is not entirely clear, but it is generally safe to assume that events in earlier games come before later ones. The developers prefer to keep the specific timeline vague; for example, the beginning of Kirby: Triple Deluxe is designed to imply that it continues from the ending of Kirby Super Star, but does not directly acknowledge that game's events.
These games are marked as separate from the main series. None of the events in them are confirmed to have happened in the main series canon, though they are occasionally acknowledged within main series games.
- Kirby's Pinball Land
- Kirby's Dream Course
- Kirby's Avalanche
- Kirby's Block Ball
- Kirby's Star Stacker (Game Boy) / Kirby's Star Stacker (Super Famicom)
- Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble
- Kirby Air Ride
- Kirby: Canvas Curse
- Kirby's Epic Yarn / Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn
- Kirby Mass Attack
- Kirby Fighters Deluxe
- Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe
- Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
- Team Kirby Clash Deluxe
- Kirby's Blowout Blast
- Kirby Battle Royale
- Super Kirby Clash
- Kirby Fighters 2
- Kirby's Dream Buffet
Canonicity with adaptations
Generally speaking, while elements from adaptations of the series can influence design choices in the game series, and vice-versa, they are not considered canon to the main Kirby game series. This includes licensed manga, the novels by Mie Takase, and the Kirby: Right Back at Ya! anime. In addition, the original Japanese version and the English localization of the anime can be considered mutually exclusive in terms of canon, as numerous character names, storyline elements, and other details are different between them.
Canonicity of miscellaneous content
Promotional material, such as illustrations, merchandise, videos, and even pre-release gameplay footage, is not considered part of the canon. A game in development, therefore, cannot be considered canon until it is released.
When it comes to developer commentary on back-story and additional information about the setting, characters, etc., this information can be considered canon if it is released as part of an official statement from a developer such as HAL, but such information can potentially be overruled by in-game events (both for current titles and future ones) that contradict the statements. As such, gameplay narrative always takes precedence over any commentary outside the games.
In some cases, details that were prominent in earlier entries of the Kirby series will not match up with newer titles, as changes are made either to the main narrative itself, or to details of certain characters/objects/events. In every case where this happens (referred to as retroactive continuity, or ret-con for short), the newer change is considered to be the current canon, and applied retroactively to the story as the way it always was.
An example of this is the color of Meta Knight's eyes. In earlier games, his eyes were white under the mask, but since Kirby: Planet Robobot, they have been shown to be yellow, just like when the mask is on. According to Shinya Kumazaki, Meta Knight's eyes were originally white because technical limitations on sprite colors in Kirby's Adventure may have made yellow eyes harder to distinguish. Much later, when modeling a mask-less Meta Knight for Kirby: Planet Robobot, the team felt that the white eyes did not quite look right.
|“||Now for a question about the main character Meta Knight - specifically, about the color of his eyes. In the moment that Mecha Knight+'s mask cracks, the player gets a glimpse of Meta Knight's eyes, which appear to be yellow. Were they always this way? I was sure they were white before...
That's quite a thing to spot. In Kirby's Adventure on the Famicom (NES), Meta Knight's eyes are indeed white. At the time, there was a limit to the number of colors you could use, so I think that white was chosen because it stood out more.
They were also white in Kirby Super Star (EU: Kirby's Fun Pak), but when we created the 3D model for this game, giving him white eyes somehow didn't feel right. And besides, his eyes have always shone with a yellow glow from behind his mask. We were worried about how old-school fans might react to this, but for the purposes of the design, we settled on yellow eyes.
— Miiverse posts made during Kirby: Planet Robobot Ask-a-thon Round 3 regarding the color of Meta Knight's eyes; exchange between an interviewer and Shinya Kumazaki