Kirby is such a weird character. Who stars in weird, non-traditional games. I have a feeling that a lot of people don't really have a handle on what he's all about. But the games still sell tons of copies, at least worldwide. (It might be interesting to rank the Nintendo franchises by sales per entry. I bet Kirby would be pretty high on the list.)
So what do you guys think about Kirby? Are you a fan? Think his games are for kids? Exclusively play the spinoffs?
I'm a Kirby convert. I really never gave half a shit about the character until I played Kirby's Tilt and Tumble. Even after that, I was more interested in the weird, experimental spinoff games. It wasn't until I dedicated some transit time to 100%-ing Nightmare in Dreamland on the GBA that I gained some appreciation for Kirby's bread and butter (and flesh and skin and bone and soul, all of which he consumes with a peaceful smile on his face). Kirby games are platformers, but they play NOTHING like other platformers. (Except for Starfy, I guess, but Kirby did it first!) The movement is floaty, the enemies become friends, his powers are so expansive that rigorous game balance isn't even a consideration, UP jumps, and everything is a dream...
But it's a fun dream! My appreciation deepened when, in my long, arduous quest to wean my nephews off of Burnout Paradise and Blur, I introduced them to Kirby: Return to Dreamland, which finally succeeded where the Marios and Donkey Kongs of the world had absolutely failed and became their favorite game. It really is fun for all ages, and it was a blast to play through with them. Apparently, it's super-rare and kind of valuable now, which is kind of surprising, but kind of not, because it's awesome. It gives so many options to the player, and it just oozes charm. I can almost understand how each Kirby game takes, like, eight years and two to three fully upended tea tables to develop! (Poor HAL... Who would think a tiny, squishy pink ball could have such a difficult birth?)
I've since played some of the earlier games, like the very first one on the e-Shop. It was just a skeleton of the Kirby framework, but it was still pretty fun. Impressive for a game that Sakurai developed while still in his mother's womb.
The spinoffs have always been fascinating to me, as well. Kirby Air Ride is not my favorite game, but I'm so happy that it exists. And that the amazing and bizarre City Trial is getting a second chance at the big leagues with Smash 3DS. Tilt and Tumble might be my favorite handheld game ever. Mass Attack is cool, and Canvas Curse was also very interesting and innovative, although Yoshi's Touch and Go ate its lunch. (Before it started eating, even!)
Epic Yarn is jaw-droppingly beautiful, but I'm a bit conflicted on it. It certainly is whimsical and pleasant, but it might be a bit too free of repercussion.
Still, I'll always be anticipating the next Kirby game, be it a cutesy platformer or a bizarre take on golf. Triple D even has a surprisingly robust (and unsurprisingly unbalanced) little arena fighter packed in! I have no definitive way to prove this statement, but it'll probably go down as the cutest arena fighter ever created. You just can't keep that little puffball down.
Kirby's the best! Kirby stars in some of my favorite games! Kirby's Dream Course! Kirby Super Star! Kirby Canvas Curse! Kirby Kirby Kirby! That's a name you should know.
That said, Nintendo hasn't really been pumping out the spinoffs like they used to. And even though I wanted Super Star 2 for years and years and years, and we eventually got it in Return to Dream Land...it just wasn't quite as good, and that was underwhelming after I built all that hype for myself.
So I'm hoping Nintendo either picks up the spinoff slack in the near future, or spice up the Super Star formula for the next game. But Kirby's a longtime fave of mine, and always will be.
Great post, Anand! You got me to laugh a few times while reading through that.
The first Kirby game I remember playing was Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. I loved exploring the worlds in that game, nodding my head to the catchy music and discovering all of Kirby's copy abilities. I've only played a few other Kirby games, but I like those ones too. I think it's a fun series that has taken some pretty cool twists and turns over the years.
Compared to other Nintendo franchises Kirby is mediocre. There are some fun spin-offs but he's only in them because he's a ball with a face. Instead of making more sleepy, vanilla 2D sidescrollers Nintendo should be using those teams to try new things.
Kirby came around about the time I jumped off the Nintendo train, and (unlike Star Fox or DKC) I never played any of his games until many years later. So any nostalgic connection I have to him is basically tied to this one funny commercial:
Which is quite funny but also the beginning of the weird history of NOA trying to sell Kirby as an angry-eyed badass rather than the cute little guy he actually is.
Anyway, my point is I don't have much Kirby nostalgia for starters. But when Kirby's Adventure hit the VC in the very early days, I picked it up. In fact, it may have been my first VC purchase. And I loved it. As platformers go, it's fairly easy and the characters are pretty basic kid's stuff. But the whole thing feels like a joy. You can tell it's a game that's been made by professionals who've been in the business for a long time. One of the great NES games.
I haven't played a whole heap of Kirbys since then. I've got Crystal Shards (didn't do it for me) and Return to Dreamland (love, love, LOVE this one). I've also got Amazing Mirror from the Ambassador program, but I've never really gotten into playing any of those games for some reason. I've tried Air Ride, but I think it wasn't what I was looking for in that moment, so it went over my head. I've tried a few new Kirby games at kiosks and they don't always grip me.
So, to answer the question, I think Kirby is a cute character and the series overall is a worthy one. I like Kirby. But I will say this - there are probably enough good Kirby games out there right now to last me a while. If Nintendo said they were going to lay back and not make any Kirby games for the rest of the generation, I'd be cool with that. Kirby's gotten a lot of love from Nintendo over the years. I wouldn't mind if some of that love was spread around to Star Fox, F-Zero and Kid Icarus.
I'd be lying if I told you I rejoice every time I hear about a new game in the franchise. Although he's cute and does have a cool dynamic of borrowing abilities (Rogue-like), usually his games are a bit too easy. The last time I had a really good time with him was playing Canvas Curse and that wasn't your regular iteration.
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the little guy. I think Kirby is actually a pretty underrated Nintendo series. IMO, his best games can hang with some of Nintendo's greats--I rank Kirby Super Star almost as high as DKC2, Kirby's Adventure is a top 5 NES title, Return to Dream Land and Epic Yarn are two of the best platformers last gen, Air Ride is roughly on par with F-Zero GX (will saying this get me a ban…?), and Mass Attack might be the best late-era DS game out there.
I think Kirby detractors generally will say that his games are too simple and basic. Now, to a point, I can agree with this; the "Dream Land Trilogy" (KDL 2, 3, and 64) were all made by a different team than Sakurai's main Kirby team (DL1, Adventure, Super Star), and all comparatively feel sluggish and simple. They're good for what they are, but I definitely prefer the more ambitious Sakurai games. Super Star took Kirby to the next level, its controls and moveset system becoming the framework for a little game called Super Smash Bros. The music is also consistently great through this series, which I can't say for all of Nintendo's second-stringers (Star Fox's is uneven after the great SNES soundtrack, F-Zero's never stood out to me, Excite, WaveRace, and PilotWings are all just kind of there). Dream Fountain!Dedede's Theme!RtDL's boss theme!Frosty Wheel!Dusk Dunes! (I'm a huge fan of Epic Yarn's amazing piano soundtrack)
The quick-change element of most of Kirby's games gives a great deal of variety to the gameplay, as you'll rarely play through a stage the exact same way twice. It's neat, and akin to character-switching mid-stage to solve puzzles, access new moves, etc. And then you have the spinoffs, wildly experimental, creative games that take some fun risks because they star an established character.
Not every one of Kirby's games is my favorite, but I would certainly suggest that you guys check out Adventure (remember, this is an NES game!), Super Star, Return to Dream Land, Epic Yarn, and Air Ride's City Trial with your buds. All of these are terrific gaming experiences with lots of creativity and charm.
Just started Triple Deluxe, but it feels like a 3DS RtDL, which is definitely a good thing.
As for myself, I think I've only played Kirby's Aventure which did nothing for me. Nevertheless, I did want to play Kirby's Super Star Ultra and I almost bought Kirby's Triple Deluxe instead of Pokemon Y. I do feel like I want to give it another chance ever since I played Wario Land Shake it and loved the hell out of that game. I feel that myself, like many before and after me, missed the point of plat-formers like Kirby. It's not really about just getting to the goal per se, but about collecting and unlocking as much as you can. That is where the real challenge comes from. I think that sub-consciously I was playing it like any other Mario game.
I just want to say that it always annoys me when people refer to Kirby as a girl even though he is a boy (probably asexual as well, but that is just conjecture on my part) Similarly, Jiggly-puff is also presumed to be female by many, though they can be male/female. People usually refer to the one in the anime which I'm pretty sure is/was a male. I suppose people see the pink color and assume. I don't feel like opening that particular can of worms today though.
@nate38 I feel like Nintendo started using Donkey Kong for more of their experimental spin-offs.
And now they usually create new IP, most likely to bolster our List Warz defense capabilities.
Yeah, for a while Donkey Kong was the belle of the spinoff ball with stuff like Jungle Beat, Donkey Konga, and the two King of Swing games. At this point, just about everybody from Nintendo's inner circle has at least had a dance, even good old Metroid Pinball and Link's Crossbow Training.
I guess I just miss Kirby spinoffs because they were almost always a mark of high quality even while going in totally different directions. I've played every Kirby spinoff but Star Stacker, and the only one that was less than great was Block Ball, which was still an okay take on Breakout.
I'm honestly not a huge fan of his traditional platformers. I've enjoyed a few, but none are really up with my favorite games or anything.
His alternative games though (either non-platformers or alternative platformers)... love them. Kirby's Dream Course is one of my favorite games ever. Kirby's Avalanche was awesome too. Kirby's Canvas Curse, Mass Attack, and Epic Yarn are probably my three favorite Kirby platformers.
I like Kirby games and own a lot of them, but I feel like the series hasn't reached its full potential. Kirby's Return to Dream Land was a disappointment to me because it felt like a step back from Kirby 64; it's straight-up, flat 2D. I wanted to see an expanded take on the extra depth in Kirby 64, such as having winding pathways and objects popping out of the background and other stuff that utilises the third dimension. Heck, I'd also like to finally see a full 3D entry, even though it might not work well. Also, I feel like the level design could be a little more complex and revolve more around the powers, instead of having powers be more akin to choosing a character like they currently are. I realise that Kirby games are skewed towards younger players which is why the level design is relatively simple, but I'd still like to see more from it.
My faves are Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64. It really sucks that they didn't put co-op in Kirby 64 for some reason, as Kirby games are best served in co-op. And not the good kind of sucks, because Kirby really sucks in general. The suckiest series ever.
I love Kirby in Smash, not to mention TBun's interpretation of the character in BitF, but beyond that I don't much care for the character. I haven't played many Kirby games, but the only one I've played that I've ever really enjoyed was Kirby Canvas Curse, and that was hardly a Kirby game. I like the idea of Kirby a lot more than I like the typical execution of him, I guess.