A model is a manipulable three-dimensional object within a video game which represents a character, enemy, item, or other such object that is distinct from other elements such as terrain, background, or user interface. Models are typically used in any game that runs a 3D graphics engine, even if those models are made to resemble 2D objects (with examples of this being Mr. Game & Watch in the Super Smash Bros. series, and most objects in Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn).
Models are composed of polygons (also called triangles or "tris"), and also typically have a set of "bones" which are used to animate them more easily. Models tend to be completely hollow, with a flat texture applied to their surfaces to give them necessary details. Usually, the inside of a model will only be detailed if it is meant to be visible; for instance, the inside of Kirby's mouth being visible as he inhales. Other more advanced techniques or technologies may be used to give models more convincing looks and/or movements (such as giving Kirby's model an automatic "jiggle"-like reaction to his body when he moves), though these are not always implemented.
In the Kirby series, models are used for all games that employ 3D graphics (even if they are still played like 2D sidescrollers). They are used for the following objects:
- Playable characters such as Kirby or Bandana Waddle Dee
- Enemies and bosses
- Items such as Cracklers
- Objects such as Air Ride Machines
Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn can be considered a unique exception in that they use vector-based objects and flat models manipulated in such a way that the game appears fully 2D; high-resolution digital photographs of real yarn and fabric were textured onto polygons to give the game its distinctive look. This becomes apparent when Kirby pulls aside a patch or part of the background, revealing that it is actually a 3D model as it falls away.
3D modeling is also used to create terrain (which for the purposes of this article is considered separate from models for characters and objects), and to create external artwork (which for wiki categorization purposes are not considered models, in the sense that they are not used in-game). 3D modeling is also often used for pre-rendered cutscenes, though the "pre-rendered" nature of them means that the models used in them need not be available as objects in the games themselves.
Chronological list of model-based Kirby games
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
- Kirby Air Ride
- Kirby's Epic Yarn
- Kirby's Return to Dream Land
- Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition (menu elements and New Challenge Stages)
- Kirby: Triple Deluxe
- Kirby Fighters Deluxe
- Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe
- Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
- Kirby: Planet Robobot
- Team Kirby Clash Deluxe
- Kirby's Blowout Blast
- Kirby Battle Royale
- Kirby Star Allies
- Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn
- Super Kirby Clash
- Kirby Fighters 2
- Kirby and the Forgotten Land
- Kirby's Dream Buffet
- Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe
- Even though the main gameplay elements of Kirby Super Star are sprites, the backgrounds were created using 3D models and then rendered into flat images. Similarly, the playable characters' sprites in Kirby: Canvas Curse are 3D models that were rendered in this manner.