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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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Must have been hard to keep this list at just ten. Kirby's virtues are as infinite as his stomach.



#11 -- He even got a fairly enjoyable cartoon! Sure, it was your standard Saturday morning action/comedy anime aimed primarily at kids, but it had its share of surprise charms. Amusing accents, unexpected parodies, and even an episode that lampoons the animation industry and the show itself.
Posted: 02/21/15, 19:50:11
TriforceBun said:
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.

Your life sounds terrible.

Wait, I'm doing it! Online new-age cynicism and snark! Damn! Why you gotta be right all the time, Bun?
Posted: 02/21/15, 23:32:39
Great music should've been at 1 as far as I'm concerned. If it weren't for the music, I'm not sure I'd enjoy those games as much as I do.
Posted: 02/21/15, 23:47:52
Best Top 10 ever!

Of all Nintendo's series, Kirby seems to be the one that never* fails to please. Even the oddball outings make for fun diversions from his platforming mainstays. Kirby games just never get old! They're the bright cheery light in the gaming world plagued of browns and blood.

Every reason you list I agree with... Especially the music. Some of Nintendo's best, no question. Return to Dreamland was a feast for the ears, and the early tunes are just as good as ever. Nothing will ever match the sheer joy listening to Float Islands brings. I just picked up Rainbow Curse, and though I'm not looking forward to playing with the GamePad, I am looking forward to hearing the music! Also, the colors. Oh those lovely Kirby series colors. As someone that sees the world through a Crayola lens, Kirby games are heaven to the eyes.

Kirby games never take themselves too seriously, but they provide some serious fun. I look forward to the next Kirby platformer more than I do the next Mario one. Mario has disappointed, but Kirby never has*. Long live the pristine pink puff!

*Edit: Forgot about Epic Yarn. Loathed that game. Awesome concept, but Good Feel ruined it (probably should give it another chance). The music, barfola on a stick. It's the reason I'm worried about Yarn Yoshi. They did an amazing job with Wario, though.
Edit 2: Well, add Rainbow Curse to the list. No good due to requirement to use GamePad as sole screen.
Posted: 02/21/15, 23:51:44  - Edited by 
 on: 02/22/15, 14:40:16
@nate38
Kirby Kirby Kirby, he's the star of the show! I'd like to see more of this cartoon--the few episodes I caught were cute and fun in their own way. And I rather like Dedede's characterization.

@kriswright
Hey, I didn't say that was my life! Just yours!

(hm, does that count as snark?)

@PogueSquadron
No doubt the soundtracks kick the atmosphere and feel of the worlds to the next level. Ultimately, though, I'm just a bit more impressed by how consistent and varied the series is.

@NoName
Whoa, you hated Epic Yarn...and its music?? I guess it's somewhat of a divisive Kirby game since the platformer gameplay is unusual, but no more unusual than Mass Attack's platforming (for instance). Otherwise, I definitely agree with your post...and Rainbow Curse has already been very promising music-wise! There's a shockingly large number of remixes from the whole series to unlock in the sound test! Even if most of them aren't in the game proper...
Posted: 02/22/15, 01:13:34
@TriforceBun

Yeah, I loathed its music. I think that's the main reason I didn't like the game. And the main reason I didn't like Super Mario 3D World. The tunes were just too jazzy. I really liked the look and overall idea of Epic Yarn. I just don't think Good Feel should have handled the music. It didn't fit with the game's style.

But, I am really looking forward to playing Rainbow Curse tonight... With the sound cranked up!
Posted: 02/22/15, 01:41:25
@NoName

That's interesting that you site the music as to why you were disappointed with Epic Yarn and Super Mario 3D World. That was one of the main reasons I loved those games. The jazzy feel was a breath of fresh air to my ears. But I'm a fan of jazz so that may have something to do with it. I also adored the credit music to Mario Kart 8.

But more to the point of this thread. I love the top ten. You really reminded me just how varied the Kirby games can really be. You definitely got me to think of a few game that I had forgotten about.
Posted: 02/22/15, 02:12:26
@Beardednerd

Ugh... Mario Kart 8. The worst in the series, music wise. Thank goodness for that one DLC level with the dragon theme. It featured a wonderful tune. The snow one, too. But overall, just bad. So bad I don't even want to play the game. I know, I'm weird. I guess I just don't like jazzy, big band types of music.
Posted: 02/22/15, 02:29:51
Related: HAL Laboratories is 35 years old today.




P.S. I seem to recall you saying you'd give Kirby's Dream Course another try sometime, T-Bun. I hope you're a man of your word! If not for me, won't you do it for good old Kirby?
Posted: 02/22/15, 02:44:04  - Edited by 
 on: 02/22/15, 02:54:48
@TriforceBun

You make a lot of good points. It's very easy to overlook Kirby, but he's always there with that consistent level of quality and joy. The writing style for this list remains upbeat and pleasant, fitting the series very well.
Posted: 02/22/15, 02:49:53
#2 is what wins me over. I'm not even a huge fan of the traditional Kirby platformers but there are so many other Kirby games to choose from.
Posted: 02/22/15, 02:56:39
While we're posting music, here's one of my favorites: Kirby's Dream Collection had a remix of the credits theme from Kirby's Dream Land in its own credits roll, after you finish the Challenge Room EX stages. Love that classic callback right before the end.

Posted: 02/22/15, 04:01:17
#3 as well! Kirby has such good music. I put Kirby's Adventure as my #4 soundtrack on the NES!

This song though...

Posted: 02/22/15, 05:04:29  - Edited by 
 on: 02/22/15, 05:04:42
@nate38

Ooh, that's cool. I still need to get around to beating Dream Collection's extra stuff, so I avoided clicking, but I always like callbacks like that.

Rainbow Curse has already had a couple that I really enjoy too.

@Zero

Yeah, I remember you liking that one a lot too. When it hits its climax and gets all intense it sounds great. Epic Yarn had some seriously skillful piano playing in it. Like a third of the songs in that were some sort of impressive elegy.
Posted: 02/22/15, 06:07:46
Its a shame I really didn't know who Kirby was until after playing Super Smash Bros (Like Fire Emblem) but since then I only ever had the chance of playing the 2 original games on the GB.

@1: Hmm, Games you can fly indefinitely, how about Star Fox and every other Air/ Space conflicts game. Jokes.
Posted: 02/22/15, 14:16:09
Man as far as traditional Kirby games you should definitely play the first NES game. Way better than the GB games in my opinion.
Posted: 02/22/15, 19:33:47
This thread is definitely too far down the page. Not enough rapturous declarations of affection for Kirby around these parts.

Adding to #9, I think Kirby's Dream Land is the first game I played with cutscenes (the humorous little vignettes before each stage, and I guess the warp star sequences) and maybe the first with an ending credits cutscene, too. Those went a long way to establishing the lighthearted, cartoony tone of the first bunch of Kirby games. I still remember laughing at the Butter Building intro in Kirby's Adventure when I was wee. The comic timing was straight out of Looney Toons.
Posted: 02/24/15, 17:15:59  - Edited by 
 on: 02/24/15, 17:16:34
This is one of my favorite series. It's been so since Kirby's Adventure on the NES. I especially adore the more experimental games (Canvas Curse, Mass Attack, Dream Course, Epic Yarn, and Super Star (to a lesser extent)) in the series. I'm just glad Kirby isn't afraid to take chances.

I would like to add this music for consideration. I could listen to this song all day...so relaxing...

Posted: 02/24/15, 17:20:43
Kirby is also a Gameboy original character. Pretty cool.
Posted: 02/24/15, 21:47:34
@GameDadGrant

Yeah, but you could beat Dream Land in 20 minutes. At least Adventure took a good afternoon and there was more to discover!

(Don't get me wrong, Dream Land was a good first entry in the series, but it didn't really hit its stride until Adventure dropped a year later.)
Posted: 02/24/15, 21:53:30
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