Kirby is an action-platformer video game series developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo. The series centers around the adventures of the a young, pink alien hero named Kirby as he fights to save his home on the distant Planet Popstar from a variety of threats. The majority of the games in the series are side-scrolling platformers with puzzle solving and beat ’em up elements. Kirby has the ability to inhale enemies and objects into his mouth, spitting them out as a projectile or eating them. If he eats certain things he can gain the powers or properties of that object manifesting as a new weapon or power-up called a Copy Ability. The series is intended to be easy to pick up and play even for people unfamiliar with action games, while at the same time offering additional challenge and depth for more experienced players to come back to.
The Kirby series includes a total of over twenty games, and has sold over 34 million units worldwide, putting it in the top 50 best selling video game franchises of all time.
The main protagonist of the Kirby series is a young alien boy named Kirby who lives on a far away star-shaped planet called Popstar in the country of Dream Land. Much of Dream Land is peaceful and its people lead laid back and carefree lives. However, when peace in Dream Land is shattered from threats, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial in origin, it’s up to Kirby to become a brave warrior and save his home. Despite his young and carefree personality; Kirby possesses many incredible abilities, such as the power to inhale objects and enemies, sucking them into his stretchy mouth and spitting them out with force. He can also take on the properties of enemies and objects that he eats to gain Copy Abilities, transforming into new forms and gaining new powers; such as breathing fire, wielding a sword, launching sparks in every direction, or attacking enemies with direct hand-to-hand combat.
Many recurring characters appear throughout the series both allies and enemies. The most frequent one being King Dedede, a gluttonous blue bird and self-proclaimed ruler of Dream Land. King Dedede has appeared in every Kirby game except for Kirby & the Amazing Mirror. King Dedede’s selfish nature often leads him and Kirby to clash, however he sometimes teams up with Kirby when a greater threat appears. Another major character of the series is the enigmatic Meta Knight, a chivalrous masked man who wishes to one day fight the strongest warrior in the galaxy and leads a band of like-minded warriors. Whenever him and Kirby duel he always offers Kirby a sword beforehand so that the fight is fair and while is true face resembles Kirby’s his exact relationship with Kirby remains a mystery.
The main Kirby games are side-scrolling action-platformers. Kirby must run, jump, and attack enemies while traversing through a number of areas, solving puzzles and fighting bosses along the way. One of the things that sets Kirby apart is Kirby’s ability to inflate himself with a gulp of air and fly. In most games he can do this for as long as he likes however, his attack options are limited while doing so.
Kirby games often contain a number of hidden items that either unlock more parts to the game or are simple incentives to collect, and are usually required to achieve 100% completion in the game. These special items usually relate to the plot of the game, most often used to create a special weapon required to defeat the final boss. In some games, the special weapon is optional and can be used in the game regularly after defeating the final boss with it. These elements have remained constant throughout most the series, with each game having its own unique twist to affect gameplay.
The games’ fantasy world of Popstar includes many regions of different climates and terrains, which are home to many different creatures. Each game features uniquely named areas, but all games feature typical locations such as fiery mountains, open meadows, water-filled or submerged areas, icy snowfields, and similar nature-based places.
There are also several spinoff games in the series, which involve a variety of different gaming genres such as pinball, puzzle, racing, a game based on motion-sensor technology. A number of these side games take advantage of Kirby’s round, ball-like appearance.