Our Tiny, Pink Hero: Nintendo’s Underdog

You may not know it, but Nintendo also sports a tiny, pink hero that comes in the shape of a small ball with fingerless arms and cute red shoes, other than our super plumber hero, and his ape rival. He sports big and shiny navy blue eyes, and the innocent voice of a child. Only, this little guy is no child, and he’s not all that innocent, either. In fact, this guy can tumble enemies like you wouldn’t believe when he sucks in smaller enemies to steal their abilities. What do you call this cute, but vicious little creature? Well, for that last 14 years, we’ve known him as Kirby.

We first met this little guy back in 1992, when Kirby’s Dreamland was released for the GameBoy, landing this puff of action on your portable. Of course, with the GameBoy’s black and white palette…What color was he? Well, most people didn’t exactly care, really. We all just knew that this platformer took the genre to a whole knew level with it’s innovations in gaming.

Without just having to pummel your enemies with jumps, you can eat them! Moreover, you can take their powers! What more did gamers want in a game? Seemed like not much, did it? However, while it was an admired game, it was just another title on the GameBoy, or was the idea of this light-shaded little puff going much further than expected?

Just about a year later, in 1993, Kirby’s Adventure was released on the NES, bringing back our cute little buddy with some color on the home system. Of course, what color was Kirby? He was a brilliantly pink little puff, he was. The game brought a more prolonged gaming experience for our little friend, and so Kirby began to become more known about the gaming world. Also, in this game, Kirby was given a definite villain, so named King Dedede, the villain from the last game. Whoever said pink couldn’t pack a punch?

Only months later, that same year, an American manufactured Kirby game was released, called Kirby’s Pinball Land. And, well, you guessed it, our pink little puff was simply a ball, being knocked around to play a nice game of Pinball. Nothing new here, and nothing about Kirby, but still, who didn’t enjoy a nice game of Pinball with a twist, huh? Apparently, a lot of people. At the time, the game wasn’t all that much to be excited about.

In 1994, a strange game called Kirby’s Dream Course is released for the SNES. Well, Kirby is a ball, and a ball is used in many sports…especially Golf. Well, this game was a wacky type game of Golf, where you control your angles and force on the ball, depending where it would go. Nintendo knew they had been changing some stuff here, probably for the better good, but that was probably in their delusion. The world wondered where the real Kirby was going.

In February, 1995, a worldwide release of Kirby’s Avalanche came about. This was a puzzle game, but not exactly regular. Kirby’s Avalanche came out during the time of ‘Dr. Mario’ games, you know, when every Nintendo character tried their hands at a Tetris type games and each failing miserably. Well, Kirby did too, but in a good way. However, I never said it was successful. The entire game consists of dropping down little gooey things that, when four of the same color combine, vanish together, having all gooey things on top of it drop down. The object of the game is to try to score combos against your opponent, which drops stones on top of the opponent’s playing field, making it harder to win. The only way to remove these stones is by making an adjacent goo vanish, thus removing the block. Good idea, but no one was buying it, at least not for Kirby.

Just months after, the pink puff was back with his glorious addiction to the feeding of his foes and taking their genetic powers. Kirby’s Dreamland 2 was released in May of 1995 on the GameBoy, bringing back our little friend in his glorious revolution for platforming, as well as giving him his famous rival, the Meta-Knight. However, while fans were psyched about our little friend’s comeback, we weren’t sure that the Kirby we knew and loved was actually pink. He only had one adventure in color, and for many to be honest, it didn’t look that good. What about his adventure for the SNES? Did they seriously have to waste their opportunity on a puzzle game? No one thought so.

To everyone’s surprise, in 1996, many wishes were granted when a SNES game titled Kirby’s Super Star came about. The pink puff had made his big jump in a vibrant color adventure along with a small collection of recent games. The entire game had seemed to be the best in class of games on the SNES, so why wasn’t it done before? That question didn’t really need to be answered because everyone was busy enjoying the pink puff’s greatest comeback. The biggest question afterwards however, was if he was going to keep that up?

Likely not. In 1997, Kirby’s Star Stacker was released for the GameBoy, making for another spinoff of Tetris with a Kirby theme. Many people ignored it for the time, especially since it was done many times before. The original Tetris on the GameBoy was much better considered.

Kirby returned with another bang in Kirby’s Dreamland 3, released in 1998 for the SNES. Not much of an improvement over the last in the Dreamland series, fans still loved it, nevertheless, most likely for the fact that Kirby was keeping on track. The pink puff was finally known for a main fact for eating his enemies and usin ghtier powers to thwart his foes.

With the new Nintendo 64 system going wild with the advent of 3D gaming for Nintendo, Kirby needed some special debut. He got it, but no in the way that everyone expected.

In 1999, a fighting game that clashed major Nintendo characters, called Super Smash Bros. banged up everyone’s Nintendo 64 with one of the best fighting experiences ever known to man. Only 8 characters were chosen to be in the main part of this game, and Kirby was one of them, placed just under Mario on the selection screen. Not exactly Kirby’s big debut just yet, but he was obviously an icon by now.

If you got a little feeling inside from Super Smash Bros. about Kirby having a great debut coming on, you were right. Just the year afterwards, in 2000, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards was released. This was generally the same type Kirby game, but all fans were blown away by the amazing sounds, the vibrant 3D sprites among the 2D environments, and the vividly colored bosses and characters within the game could only be described as stunning. However, as great as this game was, was it truly accepted to non-fan audiences? I can say that it should have.

In 2001, Kirby jumped back onto your GameBoy, but in the GameBoy Color this time, in Kirby Tilt N’ Tumble. This game invented a class of its own, and it wasn’t recognized as a Kirby game, but something more innovative and very fun. The objective of the game was to tilt a obstacle-littered board in the right directions to tilt Kirby into the goal, but there’s a twist. You can’t use the directional pad, you actually have to tilt your GameBoy in order to move the board. Just doing this in a game came out to be a blast for gamers, and came as another of Nintendo’s and Kirby’s innovations. Kirby became mostly famous in that time for this game. The game was also the advent of the motion sensor games now featured on the GBA.

The year 2001 brought a new look for Kirby. With the release of Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Gamecube, a new slew of characters were involved in the addition to the cast, but Kirby still remained a veteran, but he had a new look. With the Gamecube’s superior graphics card to the N64, all the characters were given new and improved 3D figures. Even as a plain, pink puff, Kirby looked astonishing in his vibrant new colors on the Gamecube. However, fans that were blown away in this game weren’t looking for Kirby, sadly enough. Fans were still hyped, however. The last Smash Bros. game brought good luck for the fans.

The fans got their wish in 2002 with the release of Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland for the GameBoy Advance. Nothing new to the classic Kirby, but come on, this was the classic platforming Kirby. All the fans were excited for this new game, especially since it was actually the remake of Kirby’s Adventure that was released 9 years before. Fans couldn’t help but hope for more.

In 2003, Kirby came back with yet another new innovation, but this time it seemed much successful. Kirby’s Air Ride for the Gamecube was a fast paced racing game in which you used several Kirbys to race on the edge as you struggle to keep balance on the speeding race star. The game featured vivid environments, as well as the vivid new Kirby we found in Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Kirby’s Air Ride seemed to be Kirby’s new and successful innovation, ever since Tilt N’ Tumble, but no one believed it to be nearly as successful as their frantic, tilting frenzy game for the handheld.

2004 brought another Kirby to the GBA, in Kirby and the Amazing Mirror. The Amazing Mirror was a little addition in the game that allowed you to create four Kirbys and use them to conquer levels and such. And when I say this, original story is included. Also, Kirby gets a phone. Many people complained about the game’s inability to match up to Nightmare in Dreamland, but fans were satisfied to know that Kirby kept coming back just the way they liked him. However, the game goes down as nothing significant.

In 2005, however, with the release of the Nintendo DS, Kirby: Canvas Curse is released for that very new handheld. Classic Kirby…but what? No, this was no classic Kirby. This game featured our Pinball version Kirby and put him in classic platforming environments. What Nintendo decided to do was allow you to use the stylus to control Kirby’s paths, with the touch screen as your canvas. This brilliant idea turned out to be a fun and addictive game for DS users everywhere, but surely fans were disappointed at not being able to satisfy their pink friend’s big hunger. However, little complaints came in. Fans were more than satisfied.

No new games of Kirby’s has been released since that of Canvas Curse, but Kirby will soon be getting Kirby DS as his next innovation.

All these 14 years, since 1992, Kirby never seemed so appreciated as he should have been, always drowned out by the cries for Mario and Zelda. Sometimes you should consider what really lie underneath. Sometimes you often find something much more amusing that way.

Our pink little friend has had a tough run, but he keeps going, making great and memorable titles as he does. But, he doesn’t have to run as underdog forever…He’ll get a huge payoff someday.