Dark Matter Trilogy

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The term Dark Matter Trilogy is colloquially used to refer to three games in the Kirby series that share a common plot-line, and a common enemy in Dark Matter, after whom the trilogy is named.

The games are, in chronological order:

All three of these titles were directed by Shinichi Shimomura - as opposed to Masahiro Sakurai who had been directing Kirby Super Star, and then Super Smash Bros. during this time period.

Overview of Similarities

In each of these titles, Kirby and a set of his friends set out to either free Pop Star or other worlds from the influence of the enigmatic Dark Matter and its corrupting influence. In addition, each of these titles has a False Ending, wherein the game seems complete, but leads to a revelation of Dark Matter still being in control, which can be circumvented by collecting all of the special collectible items prior to beating the boss of the last regular level.

Each of these titles also features combination Copy Abilities, wherein Kirby can combine his base abilities with either his Animal Friends, or with his own abilities to create Power Combos. Creating these combinations is often necessary to collect the necessary items in each title. These items are Rainbow Drops in Dream Land 2, Heart Stars in Dream Land 3, and Crystal Shards in Kirby 64.

As a final more amusing similarity between the three titles, each one features King Dedede being possessed by Dark Matter.

Legacy

Elements of the trilogy have lingered throughout subsequent games in the Kirby series. Rick, Kine and Coo appeared as minor characters in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, as well as making cameo appearances in later games, such as Team Kirby Clash Deluxe. This culminated in them appearing along with Gooey, Adeleine & Ribbon as Dream Friends in Kirby Star Allies. Recurring enemies, such as Acro, Bouncy, Ice Dragon, Nruff, and Blocky also debuted in this trilogy.

In terms of gameplay elements, the concept of Point Stars began in this trilogy, though the scoring and value of these stars, as well as their appearance, has changed since the trilogy ended.

Music from the trilogy has been covered in later games, with Kine's theme featuring in the Onion Ocean stage of Kirby's Return to Dream Land, the Dark Castle, Sand Canyon 3 and Shiver Star factory themes featuring in Kirby: Planet Robobot, and the Ripple Star castle theme featuring in the last stage of Endless Explosions in Kirby: Triple Deluxe - among others.

Dark Matter, in his swordsman form, appeared in the form of a clone as a surprise Boss in Kirby: Planet Robobot. Void Termina from Kirby Star Allies also has many similarities to Dark Matter.

As a final note, the 5-level setup of Popstar seen in Return to Dream Land and Planet Robobot was established in Dream Land 3.