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Top 10 Reasons why Kirby is One of Nintendo's Best Series [top ten]
 
It's Kirby! Nintendo's puffy powerhouse has been through all sorts of adventures, yet I feel he doesn't quite get the props he deserves. This Top Ten will be devoted to detailing why the Kirby series is one of Nintendo's finest, and what the little guy has contributed to gaming throughout the years.

(By the way, I lost this ENTIRE POST last night when I clicked the wrong button, so I had to type it from scratch. That should give you an idea about how strongly I feel about this series)

With that out of the way, let's get to the list!

Posted: 02/21/15, 19:24:12  - Edited by 
 on: 02/21/15, 19:23:36
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You Can Fly
Quick, name me three platformers that let you fly indefinitely! How about one?

If you can do that, you've played more games than I. The very first thing that impressed me with Kirby's Dream Land (way back in 1992) was that you could fly at any time. This, combined with the lack of a "stomp" attack and the slurp-and-burp gameplay, really gave the series its own feel compared to other sidescrollers (and it still sets Kirby games apart today).

What's cool about flight? Well, the stages are naturally built around it, so there's plenty of verticality going on, as well as a larger variety of foes who fly or charge in mid-air. It also allows players to tackle situations in a variety of ways--a recurring theme throughout the series, as I'll go into soon.

So release the chains of being tied down to the earth! Spit (a star) in the face of gravity and let your spirit soar!
 
Presentation and Charm


Look at that happy face!

Let's take an average day of your life--you toil away at work, putting up with your boss's off-color comments and your coworkers' exaggerated tales of sexual escapades, try to escape when you get home by going online, and are just met with a wave of new-age cynicism and snark.

Kirby is like a puffed-up ballon breath of fresh air! Marvel at the adorably rotund character designs! Drink in the wave of candy-coated environments! This is a friendly, inviting, and sincere world that is adorable in the "Japanese snack mascot" kind of way, rather than ever skewing too young into Fischer-Price territory. Playing a Kirby game is remarkably pleasant--the gaming equivalent of eating a bowl of ice cream.

And yet...
 
Surprising Undertones


...the games still have their shocking moments and pockets of character depth here and there. After bouncing around Dream Land 3's coloring-book aesthetic for the whole game, the final boss is a surprisingly dark encounter that involves it tearing its eyeball from the socket in an explosion of blood! Kirby 64's first ending does a 180 at the last second and still gives me the willies. And even early in the game, I still maintain that possessed Adeleine up there is one of the creepier moments in a Nintendo game. Like the best animated films, you can't have comfort without moments of darkness, and Kirby games strike that balance surprisingly well.

It goes a little deeper too--Kirby, Meta Knight, and Dedede are all kind of un-Nintendo sorts of characters in that none of them are straight-up heroes or villains. MK and Dedede have moments where they help out for the greater good, and Kirby himself does some objectively villainous things in some games. This moral ambiguity makes the cast feel more fleshed-out!
 
Kid-Tested, Gamer-Approved


Isn't it nice introducing your kids or younger siblings to video games? Kirby titles are the perfect entry point, with their forgiving difficulty level and elements of flight. At the same time, since Kirby's Adventure on the NES, they've offered plenty of difficult side-challenges and unlockables for stronger players. It's a good balance that is a large contributor to how popular the series is with a variety of ages.

Additionally, notice how a ton of Kirby adventures have multiplayer? And not just the Super Mario Bros-style alternating at the time...but real, on-screen co-op! Indeed, ever since Kirby Super Star (SNES, 1995), multiplayer has been a big factor in the series. That even continues today with games like Epic Yarn, Return to Dream Land, and Rainbow Curse.
 
Nintendo's Greatest Fanbase
For all the pleasantries in their games, some Nintendo series can have rather volatile fanbases. Just poke around a few GameFAQs boards and you'll see people acting hyperbolic over Metroid, violent over Donkey Kong, creepy over Sonic, and downright toxic over Super Smash Bros. I should know--I'm part of all of these fanbases! Except Sonic.

Ask a Nintendo fan who's familiar with these how the Kirby fanbase is, though, and they'll tell ya--it's a friendly, relaxed community that's full of nice, happy people. Very refreshing compared to how hardcore some fans can get. While this isn't directly related to the game, I'd like to think the series pleasant nature breeds that sort of disposition (similar to the Animal Crossing community, which is also nice). It also inspires a good amount of (non-creepy) fan works, with lots of cool art and music (and webcomics)!
 
Quick-Change Gameplay


What keeps the Kirby platformers interesting is the constantly-shifting moveset mechanic. The fact that you have access to over 100 (!!) moves in some games makes progress very interesting, and I can't of another game that works quite like this one does (where you can change your moves depending on what enemies you're facing in the level). Like many great games, it allows players to approach the adventure in a multitude of different ways, and it makes for good replay as well.

Kirby Super Star and later games like Return to Dream Land take it a step further and form entire movesets around each ability, almost turning the game into an action/fighting title with the combat. And the comparison is a valid one, since Super Star directly influenced one of Nintendo's most popular franchises...a little game called Super Smash Bros. Indeed, the control scheme of Super Star is very similar to Smash, and the two games were Sakurai's back-to-back masterpieces of the time!
 
Kirby Himself


Kirby has a great design.

He's expressive, iconic, instantly-recognizable, and easy for kids to draw. A perfect fit for the protagonist of a Game Boy game. He's simple, but it works extremely well, and its a far more unique look than all the 30-something brown-haired white men that gamers love to play as these days.

However, what makes his design truly great is the Master of Disguise element that Super Star introduced. Suddenly, Kirby had a full wardrobe of adorable matching hats for each power, and this element is where his simple look really shined. Shone? Sheend. The Kirby hats have given the little guy even more personality, prompting excitement on how he'd look with Smash newcomers' hats, and even inspiring a ton of Kirby hat fan art as well (Mickey Mouse Kirby, Iron Man Kirby, Harry Potter Kirby, etc etc). His constantly rotating disguises keep his design fresh from game to game.
 
Great Music





Over the course of 20+ games, the Kirby series has amassed a pretty huge amount of music...and it's great! Varied, well-composed, emotional, smartly arranged...there's a lot to like here. Some of Nintendo's best composers have worked extensively on Kirby games' soundtrack (such as Shogo Sakai, who also handled Mother 3's music), and its led to a lot of memorable and enjoyable pieces. Just check out your latest Smash Bros game for a sampling of really nice stuff.
 
Game Variety
Some of these points so far have talked about the Kirby platformers, but there's a lot more to the guy than those! Check it out...

-Kirby's Pinball Land
-Kirby's Block Ball
-Kirby's Avalanche
-Kirby's Dream Course
-Kirby's Star Stacker
-Kirby Tilt n' Tumble
-Kirby Air Ride
-Kirby's Canvas Curse
-Kirby's Epic Yarn
-Kirby: Mass Attack
-Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Look at that variety! With the exception of Rainbow Curse (a sequel to Canvas Curse), all those games play extremely different from each other, and from the platformers. What's more is that they do what they do really well. Indeed, many folks' favorite Kirby games aren't sidescrollers at all, but rather titles like Dream Course, Air Ride, Canvas Curse and Epic Yarn.

Kirby Tilt n' Tumble was even the first "waggly" game from Nintendo, using all motion-controls. So...I guess Kirby pioneered both the Wii and Super Smash Bros. Not bad!
 
Consistency!


Here's the bottom line: no Kirby game is bad. They're all at least good! And there's two dozen of them! When you play a Kirby game, you know you're in for a pleasant, enjoyable time. Whether its by providing a new, innovative method of control, or providing co-op fun for you and a buddy, Kirby's been delivering the goods consistently since the early 90s. He's Old Reliable.

Here are some of my favorite Kirby games...

-Kirby's Adventure (NES): Super polished and beefy, especially for the NES. Tons to do, long, challenging quest, great music. And it introduced the power-stealing mechanic, Kirby's most notable ability!
-Kirby Super Star (SNES): A clever format, tons of variety, co-op gameplay, full ability movesets and a stellar soundtrack all add up to my favorite Kirby game. Don't miss this gem! And try to play through it with a buddy!
-Kirby Air Ride (GCN): A highly polished and innovative racer with a beautiful soundtrack. The best element is the hyper-addictive open-ended City Trial mode, which laid the groundwork for Smash Run in SSB 3DS.
-Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii): The cutest game ever, Epic Yarn fully commits to its yarn aesthetic in both visuals and gameplay. The Charlie Brown-esque soundtrack is a real treat, and the game oozes style from beginning to end.
 
That wraps it up! I think Kirby is kind of an underrated series, personally, and I believe it's because it never really got its "Ocarina of Time" or "Metroid Prime"-type game. While Kirby games can be very innovative, even the best of the series can't quite compete with groundbreaking games like Super Mario Bros. That said, what it lacks in AAA masterpieces, it makes up for in a constant wave of fun, enjoyable gameplay with great music and tons of variety throughout the series. Rainbow Curse stays in step with the series' pedigree, delivering that same brand of charm and outstanding presentation with a fresh way to play. I look forward to what the series delivers in the future.

Thanks for the years of excellence, Kirby!

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Posted: 02/21/15, 19:24:12  - Edited by 
 on: 02/21/15, 19:23:36
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Nice article.

I don't feel it's one of their best series but I do like the games, though I also have more to play. I'd probably put #9 farther up as the series has had a bunch of different art styles over the years and that's definitely been part of the fun for me. For #3, Adventure still has the best soundtrack as far as I'm concerned, but there's been other good stuff too. Co-op would also be its own number for me and high up, instead of a footnote, as it's certainly a large reason why I had fun with some of the games.

My brother had the original Dream Land for his Game Boy and so my first one was the very first Kirby game. It was a long time before I would play another game though, and of course Kirby in Smash Bros. seemed a bit odd to me since he was doing so much more stuff than he did in the game I played. I remember when I finally looked into the Kirby franchise, I was surprised at how many Kirby games there were in existence.

As for losing your work, when I write something for a website I always write things up in some sort of word processor and then copy/paste it into the form, maybe try something like that? You never know what might mess up the browser.
Posted: 02/25/15, 00:26:12
@Zero

Yeah, absolutely. I can appreaciate the original GB game, but it feels like a lot of what makes the traditional Kirby games what they are came from Adventure. It's sort of like the Mother 1 vs Mother 2 comparison. The first one laid the groundwork for the ideas and holds up on its own, but the sequel expands and improves those ideas into a stronger package.
Posted: 02/25/15, 01:08:28
I played through Dream Land recently on the Dream Collection, and I think it holds up pretty well. While its comparatively limited, I do think the lack of powers helps the inhale/shoot gameplay take the spotlight (which never really happened after Adventure), so it feels a little different than games after it. The Hard Mode is enjoyably challenging as well.

That said, I do agree that Adventure took the series to the next level.
Posted: 02/25/15, 01:22:24
Mop it up said:

As for losing your work, when I write something for a website I always write things up in some sort of word processor and then copy/paste it into the form, maybe try something like that? You never know what might mess up the browser.

Yeah. Zero put a lot of work into allowing us to save drafts, and I really appreciate that, but I gotta agree with Mop It Up here. I lost a long, detailed article on Kid Icarus twice because I was typing it up in the browser. Never again. (I never did publish that article, btw. Decided it was cursed.)
Posted: 02/25/15, 04:01:23
I always write my articles in a word document first. If *I* don't trust my site, WHY SHOULD YOU?

And really some hiccups are unavoidable. Server goes down right when you post, etc.
Posted: 02/25/15, 04:25:28
@kriswright Whoa, you can save drafts? Wish I'd known that before I lost my first draft of the Ice Climbers Reboot Top Ten / Fanfiction Renaissance...but I guess I got the joy of writing it again, so that's really a blessing in disguise.
Posted: 02/25/15, 05:05:38  - Edited by 
 on: 02/25/15, 05:05:59
@Zero

Haha, I just got a freaking "no access" screen when I went to send a long post I wrote on the general discussion thread. Now how are you poor fools going to get my precious input that you've been awaiting?

Maybe I'll retype it.
Posted: 02/25/15, 06:34:05
Haha, I like how this has turned into a "share a story of your post getting deleted by NW" thread.

But yeah, definitely typing it up in a word processor next time.

@nate38

I still want to see an Ice Climbers reboot now because of that list.
Posted: 02/25/15, 06:39:38
Before I click post on anything, I usually hit Ctrl A and then Ctrl C just to be safe.
Posted: 02/25/15, 14:38:01
Well yeah that works too. But what if your computer crashes, HUH?
Posted: 02/25/15, 16:23:21
Great list, TriforceBun! Playing through Kirby and the Rainbow Curse these past few days got me thinking about my own experiences playing Kirby games, and I agree with many of your statements. I consider the Kirby series to be one of the finest video game series produced, encapsulating many qualities that I find important or appealing about Nintendo games and video games in-general.

Kirby 64 was the first Kirby game I played, and it's still my favorite one for that reason on top of its overall quality. Personal fondness aside, it's a super fun platformer that really digs into Kirby's copy abilities in creative ways. There are still quite a few Kirby titles that I haven't tried, so I'm looking forward to going through that backlog.

@Zero

I love that one. Speaking of Kirby music, I saw this arrangement pop up on Overclocked Remix this month. It's awesome!

Posted: 02/27/15, 07:35:35  - Edited by 
 on: 02/27/15, 07:37:31
@TriforceBun You know who else I'd love to see in a 3D sandbox platformer? Kirby! Granted, he usually tilts more towards action than platformer in his sidescrollers, but I'd love to see how all his different copy abilities would be put to use in a more platforming-focused 3D game. Flight could be a problem, but they could limit it to a handful of puffs like in Smash, or just keep it in full as training wheels.
Posted: 02/28/15, 17:57:09  - Edited by 
 on: 02/28/15, 17:58:07
OK, I have to admit, I've been a Nintendo fan for about as long as Nintendo has been making video games, and I had never played a Kirby game until recently: Kirby's Adventure 3D on 3DS.

I didn't like it.

I got about halfway through the game and I just had to stop out of boredom. The game isn't bad, just painfully mediocre. Mostly in its level design. Maybe that game wasn't a good place to start for my first Kirby game, but I was surprised by how unimpressed I was by the game.
Posted: 02/28/15, 21:37:58  - Edited by 
 on: 02/28/15, 21:39:12
@nate38 Oh yeah, I think it's a real shame that after all this time, Kirby still has not had a full 3D entry. I'm not sure how well that would actually work, but either way I'd like to see an attempt. Limited flight wouldn't be entirely unprecedented either as he had that in Kirby 64. Speaking of Kirby 64, even being a "2.5D" game would be neat, I liked where that game was going by utilising the extra dimension for things like winding passages and objects that pop out of the background. Return to Dream Land went back to being strictly 2D, and Triple Deluxe pretty much is as well, though it does have some objects that pop to make use of the 3D effect.

I don't like how 3D has taken a backseat to the resurgence of 2D lately, but I guess the real problem is that pretty much only Nintendo are left making platformers, and there are a bunch of different types and Nintendo can't cover them all.
Posted: 03/03/15, 01:51:49
@Mop it up Ah, I haven't played Kirby 64 since it came out, so I've mostly forgotten about it. I'll have to dig it back out sometime on Kirby's Dream Collection.

And hey, there's Reason #12: his 20th Anniversary Collection had a lot more love put into it than Mario's 25th. Some new Return To Dream Land style challenge rooms, a fun collection of box art in a timeline, and a nice little soundtrack CD.


I also just started playing Star Stacker, which is the only Kirby game I'd never touched (aside from Nightmare in Dream Land, but Adventure covers that). I hadn't realized it was already out on the 3DS virtual console until I saw Gui made some Miiverse posts. It's not the kind of game to knock my socks off, but it's a fun little puzzler in the vein of Yoshi.
Posted: 03/03/15, 22:53:40
@nate38

Nightmare in Dreamland is fun because there's a third mode with Meta Knight...if you've played Adventure, though, you're covered. If you haven't, that's a good entry in the series.
Posted: 03/03/15, 23:38:12
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