|“||Kirby loses some energy every time he bumps into an enemy.||”|
— Tutorial from The Beginner's Show in Kirby Super Star
Damage refers to the state of being affected in a way that causes loss of Health. In the context of the Kirby series, it defines how much stamina Kirby, another playable character, or an enemy loses when they are hit by something. Damage can also refer to the state of being hit, wherein the subject may recoil with a hurt expression, whether that causes actual stamina loss or not.
The following is a simplified list of every form of damage that Kirby or another playable character can take in the main series:
- Touching an enemy or stage hazard (in most cases)
- Being in the path of an enemy's attack
- Inhaling/swallowing poisonous objects such as Mariels, Capillers, or poison fruit.
- Being caught in the explosion of Stone-Bomb, a Balloon Bomb or Timed Dynamite
Context of damage
Under most circumstances, an entity capable of taking damage will do so when it comes into contact with an area of attack (technically referred to as a hit-box) that is being generated by another entity. Most enemies, for instance, automatically have an area surrounding their bodies, which will harm Kirby if he gets too close to them without performing some kind of defensive action. When Kirby or another entity perform an attack, they temporarily generate a new hit-box that usually extends from their default body shape, allowing them to hit another entity without being hit in return. Most attacks or other forms of damage in the Kirby series are set to specific values, meaning they will do the same amount of damage every time.
In addition to this, performing certain moves, or even attacks, will cause Kirby or another entity to temporarily gain invulnerability to most hit-boxes - an example being the Burning fireball attack, which leaves Kirby immune to most forms of damage while he is executing it. Picking up an Invincible Candy will cause Kirby to completely ignore sources of damage for a short time.
When Kirby takes damage, he is often knocked back, causing the player to lose control of him for a short while. How far he is knocked back and how long control is lost depends on the nature of the attack. Bumping into a Waddle Dee for instance, will only knock Kirby back a short distance, while an explosion from a Bomber might send him flying, and leave him down for long enough to fall into a bottomless pit before the player can save the situation. The severity of the attack is also a factor in whether or not Kirby loses his Copy Ability when hit. Kirby can mitigate most forms of damage by using a Guard. Doing this successfully will stop Kirby from being knocked back, and at the very least reduce damage taken.
After being hit, Kirby will be given a short time where he is invulnerable, allowing him to escape a dangerous situation before he is hit again.
When Kirby takes too much damage and runs out of stamina, he tumbles down off the screen or in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, the Team Kirby Clash and the Kirby Fighters series, collapse on the ground losing a life in the process. In most games that feature a lives system, if the player has no extra lives left when this happens, a Game Over occurs.
Starting with Kirby: Triple Deluxe, it is also possible for Kirby to be knocked off the stage, either hitting the screen, or being knocked into the background. Assuming he has any HP left, Kirby will then reappear on the stage, roughly in the spot where he was knocked away. Kirby is also given the ability to Dodge in addition to Guarding, which temporarily gives him invulnerability.
When an enemy takes damage, they may be knocked back temporarily. Most Mid-Bosses and Bosses are not interrupted while taking damage, unless hit by something particularly strong, or damaged enough to cause a new phase in their attack patterns to begin.
Some enemies are invulnerable, which means they do not take damage at all, and can only be destroyed if they are crushed or fall into a bottomless pit. Gordos and Shotzos are the most prevalent examples of these.
One thing that makes Kirby unique is his Inhale, which is not an attack in the traditional sense, as it doesn't actually deal damage. Instead it automatically bypasses the stamina of most enemies, by turning them into objects that are swallowed or spat back out as Star Bullets. No other entity in the series is capable of doing this in turn to Kirby, with other inhales merely being a prelude to that enemy spitting Kirby back out or chewing on him to do him harm.
- Starting with Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby's cries when he is hit will be specific to the situation. For instance, when he's hit by a fire-based attack, he will yelp as if he'd been burned. Underwater, his cries will be muffled. When hit by poisonous attacks, he'll sound like he's being choked.
- There are examples of Kirby being put in the knockback state without actually taking damage. In Kirby's Dream Land 2, when an Animal Friend is freed from a bag, the bag falls to the ground before the friend climbs out of it. If Kirby is standing under the bag when it falls, he will be 'hit' and knocked back without taking damage. Another one is the Self-Destruct move for the Bomb ability in Kirby Star Allies.
- In some titles, such as Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby: Canvas Curse, the scenery briefly pixelates whenever Kirby takes a hit, to amplify the impact of the blow.
- In more recent titles, there is a gameplay mechanic present which will cause Kirby (or other playable characters) to take less damage if they have less Health. In addition, several types of damage (usually certain Boss moves) will leave Kirby with a tiny sliver of stamina left where it would have otherwise been enough to KO him. As a consequence, recovery items are more effective if used at lower health, as they effectively heal more there than otherwise.
- In the Team Kirby Clash series, use of the Revival Spell will cause any role using it (except Doctor Healmore) to take a little damage in exchange for reviving their teammate.