Inhale (sometimes called Vacuum or Swallow) is one of Kirby's main abilities, debuting in the first game, Kirby's Dream Land, and being usable in many subsequent Kirby games. Kirby performs this ability by opening his mouth wide and sucking in air, which creates a vortex, dragging nearby enemies or other objects toward him and into his mouth. From there, Kirby can either swallow them, effectively removing them from existence, or shoot them back out as a Star Bullet which shatters on impact. In most games, many enemies and projectiles, when swallowed, grant Kirby a Copy Ability based on the nature of the thing Kirby just ate. Effects vary based on the game, but usually the same types of enemies provide the same abilities.
In most games in the series, Kirby's Inhale can work through walls, allowing him to nab enemies and even items in some cases through them. Often times, doing this is necessary to solve certain puzzles. Kirby can also inhale multiple enemies and/or objects at once. If he spits them out, it creates a more powerful star projectile, which can pass through multiple targets. In some games, it grows proportionally to the number of objects inhaled. According to series director Shinya Kumazaki, enemies are not killed when Kirby inhales them; instead, they "poof" and are teleported elsewhere in the world. In other games, Kirby can inhale his friends, and use them as projectiles, though this does not "poof" them like it does the enemies. Inhale can also be used to grab certain things, such as food items, through walls.
Inhale works on most enemies in the Kirby series, but some enemies are immune to this technique. The most common examples of enemies that cannot be inhaled are Bosses, Gordos, Shotzos, Scarfies, and Mumbies. While there may be a large number of reasons as to why Kirby cannot inhale these entities, the English manual for Kirby's Dream Land states that such enemies are simply "too nasty" for Kirby to swallow.
In Kirby & The Amazing Mirror onwards, Kirby can perform a stronger variant known as Super Inhale. This technique is often necessary to swallow and/or simply make budge larger objects. In Kirby & The Amazing Mirror and Kirby: Squeak Squad, Kirby will tire after using this variant for too long, and will have to rest. In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, the player must either shake the controller or input several different directions on the + Control Pad while inhaling to perform this technique. In Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby Star Allies, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe, Kirby's inhale will transfer into a Super Inhale automatically, like in Kirby & The Amazing Mirror and Kirby: Squeak Squad; however, unlike those games, Kirby does not get tired afterwards and can Super Inhale for an indefinite amount of time.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe also contains an even more souped-up version of Inhale, known as Hypernova. This ability can be acquired by eating Miracle Fruit. Using this, Kirby can inhale massive objects, and also move while inhaling. In addition, he can even swallow some bosses whole, which is impossible to do with the normal Inhale.
Notable game appearances
Kirby's Dream Land
In Kirby's Dream Land, inhaling is Kirby's primary method of dispatching enemies, either in swallowing them, or spitting them back out. Against bosses, the usual strategy was to inhale any projectiles thrown his way and spit them back. Kirby cannot gain a Copy Ability from inhaling an enemy, as this feature only appears in later Kirby titles.
Kirby's Adventure / Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
Starting with Kirby's Adventure, Kirby can obtain a Copy Ability from inhaling then swallowing an enemy. Additionally, the Throw ability utilizes an inhale for Kirby to grab hold of an enemy before tossing them.
Kirby Super Star / Kirby Super Star Ultra
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards alone, Kirby is able to use his inhale underwater without assistance from another character like Kine. This is also the first game where he can put two Copy Abilities together, allowing for combinations like Cutter-Cutter, Bomb-Cutter, and Burn-Needle. This game is also the first instance where Kirby can move forward or backward while inhaling, an ability which would not be seen again until the introduction of Hypernova.
Strangely enough, in this game alone, it is possible for enemies to get 'stuck' on platforms when Kirby is attempting to inhale them. In this case, they will stay in place, spinning around for a moment before being 'defeated' and vanishing.
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror is the first game in the series where Kirby can Super Inhale. Often, he needs to team up with the other three Kirbys to move large objects.
Kirby: Squeak Squad
In Kirby: Squeak Squad, Kirby can store up to five objects that he has swallowed in his Copy Palette for later use. Kirby is also able to combine certain abilities he has stored away, like combining Sword with Spark to create an electric sword, or two otherwise incompatible abilities to get a random new ability. The Copy Palette feature did not return in later games, though a similar feature called the Assist Star would appear in Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Kirby: Planet Robobot.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land / Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe
In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby is able to inhale his friends and spit them out as part of his projectiles. This does not hurt them, making it sometimes a useful strategy to use Kirby's friends as ammunition.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe
Kirby: Triple Deluxe is where the Hypernova ability made its debut. At one point near the end of the game, Kirby uses it to inhale an entire boss, defeating it in one fell swoop. He also uses it to defeat the final boss of Story Mode.
Kirby's Blowout Blast
Kirby gets particularly big when he inhales a bunch of enemies in Kirby's Blowout Blast. When he releases them, the star that results is referred to as a Blaster Bullet, and can wipe out enemies in a huge area.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Kirby is once again able to move around while inhaling, this time in all directions. He's also able to inhale while swimming above water. An option for Auto Swallow is available so Kirby will automatically swallow an enemy or a hat that gives a Copy Ability, which is on by default.
When near an an object that can be used in Mouthful Mode Kirby can inhale it even with an active copy ability. Elfilin will point this out to Kirby if he repeatedly discards his abilities near a "mouthful" object.
Super Smash Bros. series
Kirby uses Inhale as his neutral special move in all of the Super Smash Bros. titles. This allows him to copy his opponents' neutral special attacks when swallowing them. Naturally, Kirby does not destroy his opponent when he does this, though it does deal damage. He can also spit his opponent out as a Star Bullet by pressing the special attack button - said Star Bullet travels a short distance before the opponent returns back to normal; how far it travels depends on Kirby's and the opponent's damage percentages.
Two custom moves can be used in place of the original once unlocked in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U. The first, Ice Breath, functions similarly to the Ice ability's attack of the same name and can temporarily freeze opponents solid for a time. In return, Kirby cannot swallow opponents or spit them out. The second, Jumping Inhale, lets Kirby leap forward a ways while inhaling, but any Star Bullets he spits out won't deal any damage.
Games where Kirby does not inhale
The following are games where Kirby either cannot or does not use his inhale, with further explanations given where appropriate:
- Kirby's Pinball Land
- Kirby's Dream Course - Kirby gains Copy Abilities by colliding with the appropriate enemies.
- Kirby's Avalanche
- Kirby's Block Ball - Kirby gains Copy Abilities by colliding with the appropriate enemies.
- Kirby's Star Stacker (Game Boy)
- Kirby's Star Stacker (Super Famicom)
- Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble
- Kirby: Canvas Curse - Kirby gains Copy Abilities by colliding with the appropriate enemies.
- Kirby's Epic Yarn / Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn - Kirby tries to inhale in the opening cutscene, but this is ineffective since he has become a yarn outline and the air just passes through him.
- Kirby Mass Attack
- Kirby Fighters Deluxe
- Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
- Team Kirby Clash Deluxe
- Kirby Battle Royale
- Super Kirby Clash
- Kirby Fighters 2 - Kirby has a technique called "Gobble" instead (details in the "Gobble" section below).
- Kirby's Dream Buffet - Kirby gains Copy Abilities by using Copy Foods.
Other entities that can Inhale
Kirby is not the only one who can Inhale. The following is a list of other entities that use an Inhale to attack, though most of them cannot Copy abilities or even swallow:
- Other Kirbys
- King Dedede / Masked Dedede
- Rick (Kirby's Dream Land 2 only)
- Star Dream / Star Dream Soul OS
- Whispy Woods (Kirby's Return to Dream Land & Kirby Star Allies)
- Void Termina / Void Soul
In Kirby Fighters 2, Kirby does not have the ability to inhale (due to utilizing Copy Abilities). However, he can use a different technique called Gobble which allows him to eat his opponents and then spit them back out to deal damage. The only functional difference between this and a regular Inhale is that Kirby does not use suction (meaning he has to be up close to catch someone), and he cannot swallow. Gooey and King Dedede also make use of Gobble in this game.
- Initially, Kirby was intended to use his tongue instead of inhaling in Kirby's Dream Land, but the idea was scrapped. Masahiro Sakurai explains that this was not due to the similarity to Yoshi, since Yoshi did not exist at the time. Ironically, this idea would later be applied to Gooey in Kirby's Dream Land 3.
- In earlier games such as Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, if Kirby gets interrupted (such as taking damage) while inhaling things, the item or enemy Kirby is inhaling gets destroyed. In the later games, the entity gets instantly inhaled.
- In Kirby and the Forgotten Land the inhale can be used to obtain Copy Abilities from pedestals in the Waddle Dee's Weapons Shop without going through the upgrade menu.
Kirby inhaling in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
LINE animated sticker from "Kirby's Puffball Sticker Set"
Names in other languages
- ‘What happens if Kirby swallows a hot man?’ His directors give answers, Polygon
- "Some of the enemies are just too nasty for me to swallow. See if you can find other ways to beat these guys!" –Kirby's Dream Land instruction manual (page 12, North American print)
- Kirby's Dream Land - Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games
- Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U