Incepted by creator Masahiro Sakurai, Kirby would go from an idea to a reality when it would be developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo, releasing first in Japan on April 27th, 1992, joining such titans as Mario and Metroid on the handheld system Gameboy. The small pink ball of unidentifiable (yet somehow you know he’s squishy lol) material who ingests enemies to inherit their skills and using his ability to inflate, floating away from imminent danger made his mark immediately. Kirby’s Dreamland would sell 1 million copies by 1993. Though many felt the simplistic gameplay and style didn’t offer much for advanced gamers, the title would prove itself another monumental success tucked into Nintendo’s trophy case. The little pink hero now holds fandom equal to some of the company’s most beloved titles like Mario, Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda- raking in millions of dollars per year in t-shirts, knick-knacks, a various other forms of fan memorabilia sales. The character has been featured in 16 mainline titles and several smaller spin-off variations, most notably the Smash Bros. franchise, also created by Masahiro Sakurai.
When questioned about the game’s negative reviews, calling it things such as “elementary” and “far too simple to appeal to anyone beyond the age of 11,” Sakurai didn’t falter. He explained that the design was intended to be simple. Not only to allow new and blossoming gamers a real chance at enjoying a title without too much frustration but also to give people a relaxation escape in an action game rather than just another wild ride of adrenaline. The whimsical musical compositions, combined with dreamy and almost this side of adorable landscapes, would remove the usual sense of threat and dread, letting the player thoroughly enjoy their gameplay. Additionally, it was suggested many times over that had the nay-sayers actually completed the game; they would have found the simplicity of design did not fully represent the gameplay, with EXTRA MODE being available after the first playthrough. This is essentially the hard mode version of the original game. EXTRA MODE has become a common feature throughout the series, presenting more threatening enemies and challenges. Sakurai confirmed this, saying, “Once a player was comfortable enough to finish the game, they would be able to advance the gameplay to a harder difficulty. It was designed that way; we will keep it that way.” (Clearly, he understood the “I can’t beat this level” struggle, and I personally applaud the thinking.)
Now here we are 30 years later, and once again anxiously waiting for the day of release in the next big step of the little heroes adventure. KIRBY AND THE FORGOTTEN LAND will be released on 3/25/2022 for the Nintendo Switch. This time our pale pink wonder will be navigating a new world of abandoned structures and city streets. As always, inhaling enemies will allow the player to inherit a skill, but new and improved is the MOUTHFUL MODE feature, which will also enable Kirby to gain abilities after eating everyday objects too. Such as eating a car and gaining wheels to speed around slamming through walls or eating a soda machine then becoming a cannon of canned sugar water and doom! Also included will be the multiplayer feature, but DO NOT think this will allow one to connect with others and help each other remotely! The multiplayer feature is a co-op mode and requires both players on the same system. Sakurai is not blind to the calls for online, yet he has stated, “I have never really wanted Kirby to become something affected by the online experience. You start hearing about the horrible things people say to each other in online communities and the animosity that becomes so rampant among franchises players and… I just can’t stand to think of that happening to this game. It has always been for fun, not for skill.”
Possibly the best new feature relates to the stunning overhaul on Kirby’s normally 2-D world. Now in 3-D, many of its fellow legends have long since been shown the Royal Upgrade Treatment. Mario 64 sticks out as still being one of the most well done. Wind Waker saw Link re-introduced in a comical bubble-headed style but was still a great game. It seems only fitting that at 30 years old, the small pink ball of planet-saving superpower gets his moment to shine in the 3D spotlight.
Be sure to join us as we welcome back this titan among the Nintendo family, and relish in his relaxing perfection as we have done for so long before now! Please leave any comments, suggestions of games you would like to see featured (current or retro), and catch us again next week!
Until then, GAME ON!