Normally when I mention Kirby it’s in regard to comics legend Jack”The King” Kirby, but this time I’m actually talking about Nintendo’s little hero with a heart of gold, denizen of Dream Land. And I wanted to bring him up as the little guy has quickly made himself one of my favorite game characters! As one of the star veterans of Super Smash Bros. he’s been endearing himself to a new generation of fans for years now, but as an older fan I regret to admit that I’m just discovering what makes this character so great. Unlike so many other Nintendo icons, it took me forever to play a Kirby game. I simply don’t remember seeing the advertisements in my NES days and, truth be told, even if I had I don’t know how much attention I would’ve paid to what appeared to be a pink cloud. Just not the ideal protagonist for an 8 -12 year old boy I’d reckon, but that would’ve been my mistake, because over the years I’ve heard time and again that the Kirby games were a heck of a lot of fun, and that they featured a lot of innovative game play in their hey-day.
So, when Nintendo released Kirby’s Adventure (NES) for the Virtual Console I snatched it up for a cool $5 dollars to see what all the hub-bub was about. I’ve played it several times and there’s definitely a lot to like about the game. I only recently had the game transferred to my own Wii system so I’ve got a lot more to play before I can give a final verdict – but I’m certainly impressed. The game looks great and the freedom and versatility of his powers make it awful fun to sit back and play. I’ve also been playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl and in going through the ‘Emissary Mode’ I’m finding that one of the most effective fighters in the group is none other than Kirby himself! There were several places where I needed a fighter that would give me an edge over the hordes of enemies that attack and here would come this innocent looking “puffball” and beat the ever lovin’ heck out of the bad guys when others were struggling to do the same. He’s as versatile a character as they come. He’s got a powerful physical attack, he’s fairly quick on his feet, he can float / fly significant distances and, what’s more, in certain circumstances he can swallow his opponent and copy their own abilities. Meaning, for example, that while fighting Samus he can swallow her and thereby gain her own power temporarily (which is a fun visual to boot). I was very surprised at how effective he could be, as were my Dad and nieces as they watched me play. Now, one of my first characters of choice, I’m continuing forward on my 2nd play-through collecting items, collectibles, etc. and Kirby leads the way.
But seeing our hero in action I had an itch to play one of the newer games, so I picked up Kirby: Super Squeak Squad for the DS and my girlfriend and I have had a blast playing over the last week or so. She’s from Japan and one of the games that she did play as a yung-un (not many) was Kirby’s Adventure. So she immediately took to the game and in the course of a couple hours had already flown right past me. I enjoy it when she can have fun with a game and I have to give it to Kirby and his creator, Masahiro Sakurai, for creating such a simple, but compelling character for all ages. There’s more than the innocent exterior to Kirby, there’s a determined action hero with some amazing abilities, be it his tornado, UFO, or fire powers or his melee attacks that’d make the likes of Ryu stand up and take notice. Yes, he’s pink, but it only serves to understate the devastating abilities at his disposal. I’ve since started looking for past games and along with the upcoming DS title (that I’ve pre-ordered) I look forward to a lot of great Kirby games in the months and years to come.