Kirby for Nintendo GameCube
Kirby for Nintendo GameCube 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, who uses it to power his new robot, Dedede Robo.
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.|
|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 Kirby's 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 game was a full 3D adventure allowing Kirby to freely move around, 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. The Super Abilities were planned to appear in this build, and they ended up being included in 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, judging by the widescreen proportions of the screenshot, starting development immediately after the cancellation of the previous build. It was pretty close to completion, and it was canceled in early 2010 for unknown reasons. The development team was ultimately able to complete Kirby's Return to Dream Land in a year and a half due to having materials left over from the three lost Kirby games, with the third game in particular having the strongest influence on the final product.
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 the sub-game Kirby 3D Rumble, and later in Kirby's Blowout Blast and Kirby Battle Royale, and would ultimately be realized in Kirby and the Forgotten Land.
- Much of the music and other assets developed for Kirby for Nintendo GameCube would be used in Kirby's Return to Dream Land, most noticeably "Road to Victory" (used for The Arena and The True Arena). This track was first heard in the Kirby for Nintendo GameCube trailer during E3 2005, and shares the melody of the theme "Sky Tower" from Kirby's Return to Dream Land. The melody was probably intended to serve as a leitmotif of Kirby for Nintendo GameCube, though it's also widely used in Kirby's Return to Dream Land. Another track that was carried from the GameCube game was one of the cave themes of Kirby's Return to Dream Land, that played in the footage shown at E3 2005. Furthermore, several songs in Kirby's Return to Dream Land share a different melody that may have been intended as a leitmotif for one of the later builds.
- Several models and sounds in Kirby's 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.
- Various sound effects used in this title would be later be used in Kirby: Squeak Squad, including the sound for getting a Copy Ability, the inhale sound, and the sound of Water Kirby's bubble attack (for the Bubble ability's attacks).
- 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, which has 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 Kirby's 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 and subsequently reappear in Kirby and the Forgotten Land.
- 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.
- The game was initially planned to have an Extra Mode titled "Save Kirby!", where Kirby would've been captured by King Dedede and the player controlled a Helper to set out and rescue him. This concept appears to have become the basis for Helper to Hero in Kirby Super Star Ultra and Guest Star ???? Star Allies Go! in Kirby Star Allies.
Artwork of Heat Phanphan, Golem, and Kirby riding on Bonkers
Kirby riding on Flappy
Kirby swimming from two Blippers
Kirby with his Plasma Copy Ability
Kirby attacking Golem with the Parasol Copy Ability
Kirby with his Fire Copy Ability
Concept art of Morpho Knight for Kirby for Nintendo GameCube
Kirby for Nintendo GameCube - E3 2005 trailer
Short footage from E3 2005
Further footage from E3 2005
Names in other languages
Hoshi no Kābyi (kadai)
|Kirby of the Stars (working title)|
|German||Kirby für Nintendo GameCube||Kirby for Nintendo GameCube|
- Iwata Asks: Kirby's Return to Dream Land - The Three Lost Kirby Games (interview with Satoru Iwata on Nintendo.com)
- Kirby's Rainbow Resort (fansite)
- Kirbytraum (German fansite) - 1, 2
- Nintendo of Japan website (archived)
- Kirby GCN - Nintendo Press Kit E3 2005 - hungrygoriya - YouTube
- Iwata Asks - Kirby's Return to Dream Land - Page 1
- "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
(Translation: As for Morpho Knight’s design, it was actually a design that was created for an enemy that was a new type of knight boss when we were planning a mainline “Kirby” game for the GameCube.)
- Iwata Asks - Kirby's Return to Dream Land - Page 3
- Iwata Asks - Kirby's Return to Dream Land - Page 2
- Video showing the secondary leitmotif in Kirby's Return to Dream Land
- Translation of text about the mode from 20th Anniversary Kirby Pupupu Encyclopedia
- Famitsu article (archived)
- Produktkatalog 2005, pg. 81