Kirby (Nintendo GameCube)
Kirby was the tentative title for an unreleased mainline Kirby game developed for the Nintendo GameCube. Announced in 2004, it featured a revamped Helper system based on that of Kirby Super Star, alongside the camera perspective used in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. It began development in 2000, shortly after development for Kirby 64 concluded, and was planned for release shortly after Kirby Air Ride in 2003. However, due to issues designing levels to be playable in both singleplayer and multiplayer, it was canceled shortly after its announcement. Had it been released as intended, it would have been the eighth game in the main series.
Three more builds of the game followed: one for the Nintendo GameCube and two for the Wii. Only the last of these was released, under the title Kirby's Return to Dream Land. The concept for this game would later be revisited in Kirby Star Allies for the Nintendo Switch.
The game was shown as a more traditional 2D adventure, but still containing 3D assets. It featured a Helper system similar to the one in Kirby Super Star, but allowed up to 3 Helpers at a time instead of just one. Enemies and Mid-Bosses could be stunned by the attacks of Kirby and his helpers. The story would have seen Kirby on a quest to retrieve the Warp Star, which had been stolen by King Dedede.
The game started development in 2000, shortly after the release of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, and was intended to release shortly after Kirby Air Ride in 2003. It was announced in November 2004, and a trailer was shown during E3 2005, though it was canceled shortly after.
Enemies who appeared in this version included the following:
|Blade Knight||Sword||Spin Slash was first introduced in this version.|
|Bonkers||Hammer||Hammer Kirby wore a yellow safety helmet.|
|Broom Hatter||Cleaning||The Cleaning ability didn't return until Kirby Star Allies.|
|Dale||Dale only appeared in Kirby Air Ride so far.|
|Flappy||Wing||Flappy only appeared in Kirby Air Ride so far. When only Kirby rode piggyback on Flappy, he wore a helmet similar to that of Wheelie Rider.|
|Golem||Stone||Golem only appeared in Kirby & The Amazing Mirror so far.|
|Heat Phanphan||Fire||Heat Phanphan only appeared in Kirby Air Ride so far.|
|Parasol Waddle Dee||Parasol|
|Wheelie||Wheel||When only Kirby rode piggyback on Wheelie, he wore a helmet similar to that of Wheelie Rider.|
|Unidentified enemy||Bomb||The enemy was a mini clown riding a relatively big jester ball.|
|Unidentified enemy||Tornado||The enemy resembled a fairy.|
|Unidentified enemy||Water||The enemy resembled three water drops. The Water ability would eventually debut in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.|
Several different copy abilities were demonstrated in this title, though some were only shown through their Helper. In total, at least 16 abilities were confirmed or implied to appear.
|Beam||Waddle Doo||Never directly seen, but reasonably assumed due to Waddle Doo's appearance. Appears as a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.|
|Bomb||Unidentified enemy||The ability's hat was redesigned to an orange party hat with yellow patterns, being the basis for its current design debuting in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.|
|Cleaning||Broom Hatter||The ability's hat directly matches that of the anime, having a yellow kerchief with green stars.|
|Fighter||Knuckle Joe||Appears as a trophy in Brawl.|
|Fire||Heat Phanphan||The ability's hat was redesigned with a hexagonal gem matching that of the anime, which never reappeared outside of Brawl.|
|Ice||Chilly||Never directly seen, but reasonably assumed due to Chilly's appearance. Appears as a trophy in Brawl.|
|Hammer||Bonkers||The ability's hat was redesigned to resemble a construction helmet, which never reappeared in any future title.|
|Parasol||Parasol Waddle Dee|
|Plasma||Plasma Wisp||Appears as a trophy in Brawl.|
|Stone||Golem||The ability's hat was redesigned to a crown of boulders, being the basis for its current design debuting in Return to Dream Land.|
|Sword||Blade Knight||Appears as a trophy in Brawl.|
|Tornado||Unidentified enemy||Never directly seen, but reasonably assumed due to the helper that uses Tornado's moveset. Appears as a trophy in Brawl.|
|Water||Unidentified enemy||The only new ability to be showcased. The ability's design resembles that of the anime, with Kirby taking a translucent blue appearance.|
|Wheel||Wheelie||Never directly seen, but reasonably assumed due to Wheelie's appearance. Wheelie Rider also appears.|
|Wing||Flappy||Never directly seen, but reasonably assumed due to Flappy's appearance. Appears as a trophy in Brawl.|
Bosses who appeared in this version included the following:
- Whispy Woods
- HR-D3 (King Dedede themed paint job)
- Morpho Knight (designed, but ultimately not put into the game)
The Three Lost Kirby Games
In an Iwata Asks interview for Kirby's Return to Dream Land, it was revealed that two more builds and concepts for the game existed before the final version; these two concepts alongside the one shown at E3 are collectively referred to as the "three lost Kirby games". These two concepts are explained below.
Full 3D Platformer
The second was a full 3D adventure allowing Kirby to travel into the foreground and background, and looked very similar to Kirby Air Ride in graphical style. It was stated to have extremely challenging gameplay, and was canceled because it did not achieve HAL's quality standards.
Due to the fullscreen proportions of the screenshot, it can be reasonably assumed that the game was developed for the Nintendo GameCube. If this is the case, then it likely had the shortest development span of the three concepts, due to being developed near the end of the GameCube's lifespan.
Full 2D Platformer
The third and final version was a 2D platformer done with clean 2D graphics, similar in art style to Wario Land: Shake It!. Only a few screenshots of this game were ever released, but the backdrop and layout looked very similar to Cookie Country from Kirby's Return to Dream Land. One noticeable aspect shown in this build is a counter for Treasures on the heads-up display, suggesting similar gameplay mechanics to Kirby: Squeak Squad.
The game was developed for the Wii, starting development immediately after the cancellation of the previous build. It was canceled in early 2010 for unknown reasons.
Several aspects of the three canceled projects would eventually work their way into completed Kirby titles. Among them included the following points:
- The concept of a full 3D Kirby game was likely the inspiration for the 3D environments in Kirby 3D Rumble (and later Kirby's Blowout Blast and Kirby Battle Royale).
- Much of the music and other assets developed for Kirby GCN would be used in Kirby's Return to Dream Land, namely Return to Dream Land's theme of The Arena. This track was first heard in the Kirby GCN trailer during E3 2005, and shares the melody of the theme "Sky Tower" (used in Nutty Noon - Stage 2 and Stage 4) from Return to Dream Land. The melody was probably intended to serve as a leitmotif of Kirby GCN, though it's also widely used in Return to Dream Land. Additionally, several models and sounds in Return to Dream Land's files use the header "GCK" (presumably for "GameCube Kirby"), indicating that they were originally planned for use in this title.
- The Kirby series trophies in Super Smash Bros. Brawl appear to use assets from this title, with models such as Golem and the Fire hat (having a hexagonal jewel rather than the circular one in Kirby Air Ride) being direct matches.
- The Water ability was originally planned to debut in this game, with a different design more closely matching its appearance in the anime; it ended up debuting in Return to Dream Land instead.
- HR-D3, which had initially appeared as a boss for this title, would later appear in Kirby Mass Attack (still in King Dedede themed paint job) and Kirby's Return to Dream Land (piloted by Metal General EX).
- Morpho Knight, who had initially been designed as a boss for this title, would later debut in Kirby Star Allies.
- The concept of having three Helpers (along with the return of the Cleaning ability) would eventually manifest in Kirby Star Allies, though taking a slightly different approach.
Heat Phanphan, Golem, and Kirby ride on Bonkers.
Kirby riding on Flappy.
Parasol Waddle Dee, Waddle Doo, Kirby using Piggyback on Heat Phanphan
Kirby swimming from two Blippers.
Kirby with his Plasma Copy Ability.
Kirby attacking a Golem with a Parasol.
Kirby with his Fire Copy Ability.
Kirby GCN - E3 2005 trailer
Names in other languages
Hoshi no Kābī
|Kirby of the Stars|
- Iwata Asks: Kirby's Return to Dream Land - The Three Lost Kirby Games (interview with Satoru Iwata on Nintendo.com)
- Iwata Asks: Kirby's Return to Dream Land
- "バルフレイナイトのデザインについては、実はゲームキューブ版の王道『カービィ』を考えていた時に敵の新型ナイトボスとして作られていたデザインなのですよ。" (July 2018 Issue (Nintendo DREAM), pg. 35)