Kirby Celebrates Its 20th Birthday

It’s time to blow (and suck) out the candles for one of Nintendo’s most pink and cuddliest characters. With a list, of course!

Nintendo Kirby 20th Anniversary Image

He could be named after a brand of vacuum cleaner, or in honor of John Kirby, a lawyer who defended Nintendo against a 1982 copyright infringement lawsuit over Donkey Kong filed by Universal Studios (crazy story that), but one thing that’s for sure is that for twenty years Kirby has filled a warm, bright spot in our gaming hearts.

Which is good reason enough to dig through twenty years of Kirby goodness and list ten things that make him oh so special. A fitting birthday present for our favorite pink ball of cuteness, if I do say so myself. And I just did

1. Kirby is not named Popopo

Popopo Magazine Image 1

Twinkle Popopo. Could you play a game called Twinkle Popopo, HAL Laboratory’s original placeholder title for Kirby’s debut Game Boy outing? I really don’t know. I mean sure, you already hand over much of your dignity when you control a sugary platformer starring a pink thing, but that seems like embarrassment overkill. Kinda like play anything else on a Nintendo platform! (Oh, I kid!)

2. His Music

Poppy electronic sounds are another beloved trait of the Kirby series, and it’s all thanks to one Jun Ishikawa, who’s pretty much been the sole collaborator for every title. Amazingly, Ishikawa has been able to hit the mark perfectly with each installment, creating the best-suited song to match its corresponding stage.

A good sample of his work has to be Green Greens from Kirby’s Dream Land, which has become the signature theme to Kirby and any of his delightful escapades.

3. No Kirby, No Super Smash Bros.

Kirby Super Smash Bros. Image 1

The principal man behind Kirby, Masahiro Sakurai, is also the driving force to Nintendo’s own version of Wrestlemania, Super Smash Bros – oh, and he just finished off a pretty cool game on the Nintendo 3DS called Kid Icarus: Uprising. Without Kirby’s relative mega success, Sakurai would probably be working on pachinko machines by now, and what a shame that would be.

Unless you like pachinko machines, which probably means you’re way too old to be reading this blog in the first place. Off with you now, before I get the old-people spray out! Shuu! Shuu!

4. His Copy Abilities

Kirby Cutter Ability Image 1

When it comes to any Kirby game, it’s his wheelhouse of enemy-stealing powers that makes him a joy to play. From flamethrowers, ninja abilities, and a freakin’ laser beam that would make Dr. Evil from Austin Powers happy, Kirby has an imaginative arsenal to take down the likes King Dedede.

Except for that stupid parasol . I hate that thing with a crazy “Nicholas Cage in The Wicker Man” like passion.

5. Kirby Games That Aren’t Really Kirby Games

Kirbys Dream Course Image 1

Kirby’ so awesome, his non-tradition games are great, too. Kirby’s Epic Yarn for example, which was intentionally built around the pulling yarn/buttons concept way before some Nintendo exec said “Hey, you know what would really make this game sell bazillions of copies? Kirby. That’s what!”

Let’s not forget Kirby’s Dream Course (a great golf game or the greatest golf game ever?) for the Super Nintendo, or Kirby’s Canvas Curse for the Nintendo DS either. Both games are fantastic, but are certainly far removed from the ability-copying, vacuum-esque game play we’ve come to know and love, but honestly, that’s quite A-O-K.

6. I Really Hate That Stupid Parasol

Kirby Parasol Ability Image 1

Mea culpa, everyone. Couldn’t get that drat thing off my mind. It’s just SO useless! And now that I think about it, I really don’t like that Sleep copy-ability either. It’s suppose to refill your health, but it never does – what is up with that?At least it’s cuter than a puppy hankering for a tummy rub, I’ll give you that…

Oh, right, let’s get back to the list!

7. Kirby Air Ride

Kirby Air Ride Image 1

Speaking of non-traditional Kirby games, did I hear right that Kirby Air Ride is a good game? If you’ve never heard of this go-karting affair starring the cast of characters from the Kirby universe, there’s good reason for that. Air Ride was supposed to be released on the Nintendo 64, but became diagnosed with a strong case of developer hell.

It wasn’t until the Nintendo Gamecube that Kirby’s Air Ride finally got green lit in 2003 (albeit with little to no fan fair), sadly though, at the loss of Masahiro Sakurai, who left HAL Laboratories afterwards. As reports say, he had some not-too-kind words towards Nintendo regarding the game’s development. He did eventually return to help on the production for Super Smash Bros.

Back to main topic at hand though, if you fancy yourself a Kirby enthusiastic (darn tooting you’d have to be to read this list), and have tried almost all of his games, I would recommend you take Kirby Air Ride for a spin. It’s not Mario Kart: Double Dash!! god-tier, but it’s a neat little racing game either way. Check it out!

8. Creepy Final Bosses

Zero Two Kirby Image 1

Have you ever wondered this? For a bunch of kid-friendly games, you sure do end up fighting some rather nasty-looking end bosses. I guess you could give a pass for Kirby’s Adventure; Nightmare comes off as an Liberace wannabe more than anything else. But later Kirby games bring on flying satanic eyeballs and rejected angels from Neon Genesis Evangelion, like the one above, to determine the fate of the world.

It’s really weird… But a good kind of weird that seems to permeate from our Japanese friends.

9. A Good Cartoon… Maybe

I think… It looked funny enough after that 48-hour LAN party and all that Mountain Dew Code Red I had. Hey, for a brainless cartoon about Kirby, its got everything you possibly want; Kirby doing his cutesy antics, townsfolk that are laughably stupid, and King Dedede’s right-hand man and punching bag, Escargoon, sounds like late American comedic actor Paul Lynde.

That’s basically a winning combo in my eyes or what’s left of them after that two-day gaming shindig. Any of you kind gents could tell me what time of day it is? I need to finish up my taxes.

10. Meta Knight Is Bad Ass

Meta Knight image 1

Meta Knight, who plays the rivalry role, ala Proto Man to Mega Man, to Kirby, is one cool flippin’ dude. I’ve got the Super Smash Bros. favorite character polls to back up my claims. What is it exactly that makes him so? The bat-wing cape? The scary hockey mask? His Voltron-like blazing sword, called Galaxia by the way? If you’re taking this test via multiple choice, number two pencils only, the answer is obviously (d) all of the above.

So what did we learn today, folks? That I have an irrational hate toward parasols, and for twenty years the Kirby franchise has given us so many wonderful gaming memories. And more to come, I’m sure. For now, stay with Walyou for more geeky obsessions, like Medieval Avengers and an iPhone app that helps take care of your houseplants.