Idle animation refers to any character animation in gameplay (as opposed to cutscenes or other non-playable events) that occurs when that character (typically a playable one) is not being moved around or otherwise controlled by the player. These can range from simple eye blink animations to exaggerated interactions, and mainly serve to impart a sense of life and personality onto the player character. Though exceptions exist across the board, idle animations for characters were generally not a feature in earlier sprite-based games, becoming more common with increasing graphical fidelity, particularly the advent of 3D model-based graphics.
The Kirby series is notable in its use and development of idle animations, and the progression of their use serves to highlight both the larger trend of increasing expressiveness for characters in video games over time, as well as Kirby's own development as a character since his debut in 1992. The scope of this article will include Kirby's idle animations by game, and will also touch on the idle animations of other playable characters (where they differ from Kirby's), as well as those of other characters and entities where applicable. This article will also place a stronger emphasis on occasional "special" animations, as opposed to the more regular idle stances.
Idle animations by game
The following is a list of games that feature notable idle animations or milestones relating to them. Games that do not feature noteworthy or unique idle animations will not be mentioned here:
Kirby's Dream Land
Kirby's Dream Land is notable in that it features no regular idle animations for Kirby whatsoever during normal gameplay. When not being moved by the player, Kirby stands perfectly still, and does not even blink. However, when the game is paused for long enough, Kirby will start to dance in place, breaking the fourth wall in the process. This action does not repeat, however, as once Kirby is done with his dance, he will freeze in place again until the game is resumed.
Kirby's Adventure is the first game in the series that gives Kirby a blink cycle when he is not moving. The cycle runs on a regular pattern of three successive blinks in a row, with no randomization at play. Aside from that, Kirby has no special idle animations in this game. Notably, this blink cycle does not occur when Kirby is using a Copy Ability, even if that ability only changes his color.
Kirby Super Star
Kirby Super Star features a more elaborate blink cycle for Kirby, though, like before, it is not randomized. Instead, it follows a fixed pattern where Kirby blinks three times in quick succession, with the third being slightly delayed, does this pattern a second time, then closes his eyes for an extended moment, and then finishes with one more pronounced blink before starting the whole loop again. Unlike with Kirby's Adventure, this blink cycle persists even if Kirby has a Copy Ability. Kirby's blink cycle will be reset when he performs most actions, but crouching does not affect the cycle.
None of Kirby's helpers have distinct idle animations.
Kirby's Dream Land 3
Kirby's Dream Land 3 is the first Kirby game to give Kirby an "active" idle stance, where he is constantly swaying back and forth as opposed to standing perfectly still. Despite this, he does not have a blink cycle in this game. The same applies to Gooey and when either is paired up with an Animal Friend.
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is the first game in the series to introduce special incidental animations that may play at random when Kirby is holding still. There are three distinct animations that can play, as follows:
- Kirby puts his arms behind his back and kicks the ground with his feet.
- Kirby sits down and taps his feet on the ground, then hops back up to his feet after rolling on his back.
- Kirby looks from side to side, and then looks up and around a bit.
The second and third of these would return in various forms throughout nearly all of Kirby's subsequent 3D appearances.
Video collage of Kirby's idle animations in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards.
Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble
One of six idle animations may play at random in the game if Kirby is left alone in a stage.
- Kirby sits in place with cartoonish swirling eyes.
- Kirby looks extremely sad and distraught.
- Kirby jumps angrily.
- Kirby sits in place with an open mouth and circled by particle effects, as if to indicate being stunned.
- Kirby jumps indefatigably with a happy smile.
- Kirby sleeps.
Kirby jumps into each of these, including the sleeping idle animation.
Kirby Air Ride
In Kirby Air Ride, when Kirby is on his Air Ride Machine, he will regularly look back toward the player and motion with his arm if the player waits too long to perform an action. When Kirby is off his machine in City Trial, he may occasionally look left and right.
Kirby: Squeak Squad
In Kirby: Squeak Squad, if he has no ability, Kirby will fall asleep if left alone for long enough, and will start to dream of his missing Strawberry Shortcake, then when he wakes up, he will inhale his dream. He has several unique idle animations for specific copy abilities as well, a trait unique to this game.
- With Animal, Kirby will scratch his ear with his foot.
- With Fighter, Kirby will assume a battle-ready stance, occasionally yelling then wiping his nose, or holding his arm out briefly.
- With Magic, a smaller Kirby will pop out of his hat.
- With Ninja, Kirby will assume a ninja pose with a stoic expression.
- With Parasol, Kirby will bounce on his feet.
- With Throw, Kirby will keep his arms raised, as if preparing to grapple.
- With Wheel, Kirby will tug down on his hat.
Kirby Super Star Ultra
Kirby Super Star Ultra features a similar set of animations for Kirby himself. However, all of Kirby's helpers have been given more active idle stances, as opposed to holding completely still like they did in the original game.
Kirby's Epic Yarn
Kirby's incidental animations in Kirby's Epic Yarn are as follows:
- Kirby pulls out his Yarn Whip and starts to jump rope with it. He gets more ambitious after a while, but eventually trips and falls over, getting back on his feet a moment later.
- Kirby lets out a big exaggerated yawn, and then wipes the water from his eyes while quivering with his lips.
- If Kirby is made to sit down on certain furniture items or scenery, he falls asleep and slumps over on his belly. After a moment, he wakes back up with a startle and gets back into a sitting position.
These animations are also shared with Prince Fluff.
Kirby Mass Attack
In Kirby Mass Attack, each Kirby runs on his own set of the following idle animations, which can occur at random:
- Sitting down
- Waving while facing away from the screen
- Swaying back and forth
- Looking from side to side
After a while, if the player does nothing, the Kirbys will all fall asleep.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land / Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe
Kirby's Return to Dream Land introduced a set of three standard idle animations for Kirby that would persist through every subsequent game in the series that used its style and/or engine as a base, including all of the main-series games up until the present. These three main idle animations are as follows:
- Kirby sits down and taps his feet on the ground for a moment.
- Kirby raises his arms and stretches his body upward briefly.
- Kirby puts his arm over his eyes and looks from side to side.
- King Dedede may hold out his hammer and twirl it.
- Meta Knight may hold out and examine his sword.
- King Dedede may let out a big sneeze.
- Meta Knight may stretch in a similar way to Kirby, though his eyes do not close, and flap his wings twice.
- King Dedede may briefly fall asleep before popping back awake again.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land also features idle animations for when Kirby and his friends are waiting on the Warp Star on the title screen. These include the following:
- King Dedede gets Kirby's attention, and then makes a childish face at him, causing Bandana Waddle Dee to chuckle and Meta Knight to shake his head in embarrassment, while Kirby just looks confused.
- Kirby, King Dedede, and Bandana Waddle Dee all wave toward the player. Meta Knight initially remains stoic, but eventually joins in reluctantly.
Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition
Kirby has the same set of idle animations in New Challenge Stages as in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.
In the Kirby's History menu, Kirby has a number of unique animations. By default, he looks toward the player with a closed smile, but if left alone for a moment, he will perform one of the following actions at random:
- Wave at the player with an open smile.
- Look toward the item he is standing next to and admire it with an open smile.
- Get tired and fall asleep for a moment before waking up with a startle.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe
Kirby has the same set of idle animations in Kirby: Triple Deluxe as in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.
In Dededetour!, King Dedede has the following unique animations:
- He may briefly fall asleep before popping back awake again.
- He twirls and tosses his hammer while giving a stern look toward the screen.
- He lets out a big sneeze.
Kirby: Planet Robobot
In Meta Knightmare Returns, Meta Knight has the following unique animations:
- He stretches in a similar way to Kirby, though his eyes do not close, and flaps his wings twice.
- He puts his free hand up to his eyes and looks around, similar to Kirby.
- He holds out and examines his sword.
Kirby Star Allies
|These are the same as in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.
|Poppy Bros. Jr.
|Parasol Waddle Dee
|Bandana Waddle Dee
|Rick & Kine & Coo
|Rick's sleeping animation is by far the longest idle animation of any character in the series.
|Marx does not have any incidental animations while on his ball.
|Unlike other characters, Gooey will not repeat his idle animations unless he is moved and stopped again. This may be a glitch.
|Adeleine & Ribbon
|Dark Meta Knight
|Susie has no additional animations while piloting her Business Suit.
|The Three Mage-Sisters
|Each of the Mage-Sisters use the same animations. These are as follows:
In addition, the main menu features a large number of "skits" that play out between various characters. For a full list of those, see the Skit page.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Kirby has the following idle animations:
- Kirby smiles and gently sways from side to side.
- Kirby looks around himself quickly.
- Kirby does a big stretch, raising his arms high while his eyes are closed.
Bandana Waddle Dee has the same set of idle animations as Kirby.
Kirby's sitting pose from previous games has been moved to one of his emotes. Additionally, the player can actively trigger Kirby's looking animation by pressing another of the emote buttons.
- Generally speaking, incidental idle animations will not play when a character is holding an item, is standing on a sloped surface, or is at low health.