He's pink, chubby, and has an appetite like a megamouth shark. We are, of course, talking about that lovable ball of pinkness, Kirby. Since his debut in 1992, Kirby has been sucking up enemies and soaring on stars all throughout Dream Land. But as much as we adore him, his first video game outing is often overlooked.
No, we're not talking about Kirby's Adventure on the original NES. We're talking Kirby's Dream Land, released in 1992 for the Gameboy. This simple platformer has been in the shadow of the NES sequel for too long, so we're here today to talk about ten things you might not know about Kirby's first game.
10 Starting Role For Sakurai
Before Masahiro Sakurai was the brilliant brain behind the Super Smash Bros. series, he got his start making this little Gameboy gem. Sakurai was both the director and designer for the Kirby series. It can be said that this game was the catalyst for the designer's career.
While working at Nintendo, Sakurai wanted to create an incredibly user-friendly game, an action game for those gaming newcomers. Thus, the little guy was born. Kirby was a cute and cuddly smash and the rest is history.
9 Familiar Treats
In the game, Kirby can inhale objects and enemies to use them as projectiles or at times to boost his health. In later games, some of these would become powerups and abilities Kirby could use to defend himself. But they didn't all debut in the NES title
It's interesting to see how game designers reuse certain elements. Kirby's Dream Land has inhalable items like a microphone, a bomb, and a ball of spikes that can be turned into a shooting star to fire at oncoming enemies. These would later evolve into some of the rocking powerups Kirby uses in the later titles.
8 Portable Power
It's a simple concept, really. A small, cute character deserves a console that fits his size and demeanor, right? Instead of coming out first on a home console, Kirby, like the Pokemon series, premiered on the original Gameboy.
Kirby's portable adventure was a great game to pick up and play for the gamer on the go. A simple platformer with some action and mini-games thrown in for good measure was a perfect way to welcome in a new style of playing. Maybe not as deep as the Mario titles, but Kirby can definitely hold his own, even in this limited form.
7 Tools Of The Trade
Kirby's Dream Land was what every first entry to a game series should be. It's simple, user-friendly, and introduces mechanics that are staples of the series. Dream Land introduced elements like Kirby's insatiable appetite, the Maximum Tomato, and the ever-popular Warp Star.
Kirby might have donned a various array of hats, a player 2 partner, and a robot suit in the future, but these elements are still persistent in the series. Just as Mario has his mushrooms and fire flowers, Kirby has his weapons of choice. Just because they call it Dream Land, doesn't mean there won't be a scrap or two.
6 Starting Out Right
We've mentioned previously that it is a common misconception that Kirby's Adventure for the NES is the original Kirby title. Though the NES classic is a beloved game and a stepping stone in Kirby's career, it's safe to say that it would not exist had it not been for Dream Land.
Kirby's Dream Land was the foundation on which the following entries were built. In fact, there are several similarities between the Gameboy title and the NES game that followed, including Whispy Woods, the Poppy Bros, and similar level layouts. Most of us think of it as Kirby's prototype game.
5 Everybody Play
When Sakurai was developing the adventures of the little pink puff-ball, he wanted to create a game that everyone could pick up and play. With his cutesy design and simple gameplay, Kirby was intended to be one's first video game.
One of the most endearing qualities of the Kirby series is how user-friendly it is. True to Sakurai's mission, anyone can pick up and enjoy this portable title. Jump on the platforms, eat the fruit, and swallow any bad guys who get in your way. A simple concept, but not all games have to be deep to be fun.
4 Easy But Popular
Just because it's a simple game with a simple premise and interface, that doesn't mean the game has no merit. On the contrary, Kirby's Dream Land has been regarded as a replayable classic. With rereleases and Virtual Console appearances, it's still being played today.
Despite the NES title establishing the Kirby we know and love today, Dream Land remains the best selling entry in the franchise. Looks like Kirby was destined to be taken on the go, and honestly, we'd have to agree. Who wouldn't wanna keep this little guy in their pocket?
3 What's In A Name?
When one thinks of the name Kirby, thoughts might go to the famous Jack Kirby of Marvel fame, but usually, they're thinking of this little guy. Though it sounds believable enough, Kirby was not named after the vacuum cleaner brand. Despite his powerful suction ability. The real inspiration behind the name might actually surprise you.
The name comes from John Kirby, Nintendo's lawyer who defended them against lawsuits from Universal over similarities between King Kong and the arcade game Donkey Kong. Supposedly, Kirby received a copy of Dream Land and had a laugh over the whole ordeal. That's one way to get your name out, we suppose.
2 Something's Missing
If you've ever played a Kirby game, you're probably familiar with the character's now-famous copy ability. When Kirby consumes an enemy, he takes on that creature's attack. Because of this ability, Kirby has wielded a sword, shot lasers, and even spat fire. However, this was not the case for Dream Land.
Kirby did not have his signature ability in his first outing, but it was added in for the NES sequel to give the game more action. Aside from some impressive graphics changes for the system, the copy ability was the biggest improvement and feature for the series.
1 He Doesn't Even Go Here
As shocking as it may seem, Kirby was not even supposed to star in a game series at all. In fact, he wasn't even a real character in development. In the early days of programming, Sakurai put in a character known as Popopo to be the placeholder character until a real one was designed.
Nintendo and Sakurai soon found that the character's simple and cute design perfect for the game environment. He was colored pink, renamed Kirby, and as now one of Nintendo's most popular characters.