[This article contains spoilers for all main series Kirby games, including recent titles such as Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Kirby: Planet Robobot. You have been warned!]
If there’s one thing diehard Kirby fans love, it’s the lore behind the series. Although you wouldn’t think so from a glance at the series, Kirby’s games, especially the newer entries such as Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot, hide a myriad of interconnecting threads that tie each game together in satisfying and unexpected ways, be it the arcing plot of the Dark Matter trilogy or the steady stream of nods and callbacks from recent times. So in honour of Kirby Star Allies’ recent release, I’ll be going over the lore of the mainline Kirby platformers. Unlike “The Beginner’s Guide to Classic Sonic Lore”, I will only be using English materials for reference, due to the comparative lack of availability of translated Japanese Kirby materials, as well as the fact that the discrepancies between the Japanese and worldwide continuities for the Kirby series aren’t nearly as significant as they are in the Sonic series.
Since this is a big article, I’ve broken the guide into five pages, which are as follows:
#1: Kirby’s Dream Land – Nintendo GameBoy (1992)
Kicking things off we have Kirby’s very first outing – like its gameplay, Dream Land’s plot keeps things nice and simple: King Dedede and his minions have stolen all the food in Dream Land, as well as the treasured Sparkling Stars, giving one to each of the main bosses fought in the game. With no one else to stop his royal greediness, Kirby decided to go after Dedede himself, taking back the Sparkling Stars over the course of his adventure. This game was reimagined in Kirby Super Star on the SNES and its own Nintendo DS remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra, though the plot was left more or less unchanged.
While light on world building or character detail, several of the later plot points in the Kirby series reference the original conflict in Kirby’s Dream Land, so keep your eyes peeled for the connecting threads.
#2: Kirby’s Adventure/Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land – Nintendo Entertainment System (1993)/GameBoy Advance (2002)
Just one year after the original game, Kirby’s Adventure significantly expanded upon the core aspects of the series (such as the introduction of the Copy Ability mechanic), cementing Kirby as we know him today. Of course, this also extended into the game’s plot.
One afternoon, after his lunchtime nap, Kirby came to the awful realisation that he had lost his ability to dream. Turns out King Dedede was using the Fountain of Dreams (the source of all of Dream Land’s dreams) as his own personal bathing chamber. Furthermore, Dedede had even broken the Star Rod (the artifact which allowed the Fountain of Dreams to function) into seven pieces, one for each of the game’s main bosses.
Along his travels, Kirby also runs into the enigmatic Meta Knight, and his band of Meta-Knights, whose intentions are unclear. At times, Meta Knight would appear to help Kirby by tossing him food or even an Invincibility Candy, whereas at others he would send his Meta-Knights to attack Kirby, culminating in a final duel between the two in Orange Ocean, being the last boss fought before King Dedede.
Once Kirby defeats Dedede and restores the Star Rod to the Fountain of Dreams, an entity known as Nightmare emerges from the fountain, absorbing its powers and flying off into the skies of Dream Land. While his actions had caused trouble for Dream Land, Dedede was actually trying to protect the world from this even greater evil. Thankfully, Kirby is able reach Nightmare (thanks to some timely help from Dedede) and takes him down using the Star Rod.
Aside from the main plot establishing Dedede as more of a troublemaker than an out and out badguy, Kirby’s Adventure also introduced a proper sense of continuity to the series – unlike in the first game, Dedede is now able to float using the same technique of inhaling air as Kirby, a power which the king was stated to have learned between the events of Dream Land and Adventure. Additionally, this game marks Meta Knight’s debut in the series, initiating a complex rivalry between himself and Kirby.
#3: Kirby’s Dream Land 2 – Nintendo GameBoy (1995)
The first game in the coveted Dark Matter trilogy, Kirby’s Dream Land 2 was the first game to be directed than someone other than the series creator, Masahiro Sakurai (some of you may have heard of him before!), who handed over the reigns to Shinichi Shimomura. With this change in director came a new narrative for Kirby:
The rainbow bridges that connect the Rainbow Islands of Dream Land has been stolen by a new foe named Dark Matter, who has also possessed several Dream Landers, including King Dedede himself, to take up arms against Kirby! It’s up to our roly-poly hero to defeat Dark Matter and restore the rainbow bridges!
Yeah, it’s a very frill-free plot, even more so than either of the previous entries in the series but, much like Kirby’s Dream Land, the concepts introduced here (such as Dark Matter, Kirby’s animal friends and, within the game itself, the requirement of collecting plot coupons to access the game’s true ending) are things that will be called back to by later games, but more on that later…
#4: Meta Knight’s Revenge (Kirby Super Star/Kirby Super Star Ultra Sub-Game) – SNES (1996)/Nintendo DS (2008)
For the sake of clarity, I have decided to separate the Sub-Games from Kirby Super Star and Super Star Ultra into their own entries, partly so I can give each story more spotlight and partly because I only want to tackle the Sub-Games that add something to Kirby’s lore (sorry, Great Cave Offensive fans). With that in mind, let’s take a look at one of Fun Pak’s most popular Sub-Games.
Due to its nature as one game in a pack of six, Meta Knight’s Revenge follows a fairly simple plot: Meta Knight, tired of Dream Land’s lazy ways, decides to assert his dominance as its new ruler, and demonstrates the power of his new battleship, the Halberd, as a show of force, prompting Kirby to stop Meta Knight’s plans before it’s too late.
Although the basic plot of this game doesn’t offer much in terms of scope, the core elements it provides have since been incorporated into the core Kirby mythos, such as the Halberd. In contrast to his vague motivations in Kirby’s Adventure, Meta Knight’s Revenge helped solidify everybody’s favourite borb as a well intentioned extremist with his own base of operations, which would become one of Meta Knight’s defining attributes, to the point that the Halberd was both a stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, as well as a key plot-point in that game’s story mode.
#4.5: Milky-Way Wishes (Kirby Super Star/Kirby Super Star Ultra Sub-Game) – SNES (1996)/Nintendo DS (2008)
As with the previous entry, this game’s plot keeps things nice and simple, but adds a couple of layers. It starts out with the sun and moon constantly fighting for dominance. Approached by Marx, a resident of Dream Land seen perpetually balancing atop some kind of beach ball, Kirby is tasked with waking the Galactic Comet NOVA by gathering Star Power from around the solar system, which he can then use to wish for NOVA to make the sun and moon cease their conflict.
But once Kirby awakens NOVA, surprise! Turns out Marx was behind the whole thing! He got the sun and moon to fight as a means to get Kirby to awaken NOVA so Marx could wish to control Pop Star (the planet on which most Kirby games take place)! Thankfully, Marx’s ambitions to not become a reality, as Kirby manages to finish the now transformed jester before he can reach Pop Star, destroying NOVA in the process.
While Marx was never to be seen again in a new mainline game (until Star Allies releases this week, that is), this won’t be the last we’ve seen of NOVA, in a manner of speaking…
#5: Kirby’s Dream Land 3 – SNES (1997)
Returning to the Dark Matter trilogy, Kirby’s Dream Land 3 is where Shimomura began to expand the scope of his games’ arc. This entry sees Dark Matter descend upon Dream Land once again, but this time in a much bigger way. It turns out that the Dark Matter seen in Dream Land 2 was only one part of a much greater whole, with said whole taking the form of a huge, cloud-like mass that kicks off its invasion of Pop Star by crashing through its atmosphere and possessing Dedede and his minions once more, prompting Kirby to set off with Gooey (a rogue blob of Dark Matter who doesn’t possess the conglomerate’s malicious intent) and his animal friends to stop Dark Matter once more.
Like in Dream Land 2, this game has two possible endings, affected by the amount of Heart Stars Kirby collects throughout the game by helping an NPC in each level. In the true ending, accessed by collecting every Heart Star, Kirby forges the Love-Love Stick from the Heart Stars and takes to the skies in order to confront Dark Matter head-on. However, after defeating a large blob of Dark Matter within the Hyper Zone, an even bigger threat takes its place to fight Kirby, known as Zero (sometimes written as 0).
Although little is known about Zero, anecdotal evidence (such as its similarity to Dark Matter and its ability to spawn small Dark Matter facsimiles) suggests that it is either the sole source of Dark Matter, or at least one of several sources. Additionally, its position as the final boss of the game suggests that it is the intelligence driving the actions of the Dark Matter infestation, something that was later confirmed by the Japan exclusive 20th anniversary Kirby encyclopedia, 20th Anniversary: Hoshi no Kirby: Pupupu Encyclopedia (or Kirby: Dream Land Encyclopedia). Although its appearances in the series are scarce and cryptic, this wouldn’t be Zero’s only attempt at clobbering that there Kirby.