You never know what will inspire a lifetime.
Today’s game is Kirby’s Adventure. Just in case you were born on another, possibly star-shaped planet, I will explain what this game is all about. Kirby is a pink ball with marginally existent limbs. He eats damn near everything he can fit into his giant mouth/stomach, and this includes the many enemies that bar his way forward. Sometimes when Kirby eats an opponent, he gains their “power”, even if that “power” is simply “has a sword”. Kirby fights through eight worlds to defeat his rival, King Dedede, who is a giant penguin wearing a bathrobe. Kirby’s Adventure is a simple 8-bit title, and, while Kirby can acquire a number of “verbs” through his borrowed powers, it is mostly a two-button affair that is marginally more complicated than Space Invaders.
And it is impossible to describe how effectively this lit my imagination ablaze.
But I’ll give it a shot…
Kirby’s Adventure was not a birthday or Christmas gift. Given its release date is in May, I assume it was a “graduation” gift, or something related to a good final report card. Whatever the case, it is distinct in my mind as I remember my parents purchasing this particular cartridge at the mall, and that granting me the ability to pore over the instruction manual on the ride home. I remember “learning” the slide and air pellet moves, thinking these extra skills would somehow turn my Kirby into an unstoppable juggernaut. I remember internalizing the story of Dedede stealing the dreams of Dreamland and then having a bubble bath in the Dream Spring (it’s part of the story! Look it up!). I even eyed that forgotten relic of the NES era of instruction manuals, the “Memo” section of the book, and imagined what I would write there in the future.
But when I got the game home and finally popped it into my ‘intendo, I was greeted with the brain poison that still seeps through my skull to this day…
Here is how you draw Kirby. Before his adventure gets going, you should know this. You should be able to do this. He is a little circle with some eyes. You can do this. This is Kirby’s Adventure, but you can make your own Kirby. Take your own Kirby on your own adventures.
And, my brothers and sisters, that is exactly what I did.
I have always been a teller of tales. Long, long before this blog became my main creative outlet, I would draw “storyboards” for my own narratives (and videogames!). My mother was a teacher that always wound up with far too many (literal) copies of any given test or worksheet, so I drew on the back of countless pieces of scrap paper. My art was primitive, my stories were puerile, but, dammit, I had a story about Mega Man to tell, and I was going to tell it. I would shove these wannabe flipbooks in front of any relative that would be in the immediate area, and I would spend hours (or what must have felt like hours for the adults in my life) explaining the intricacies of my chronicles… even if half those narratives were probably just marginal plagiarism of episodes of The Real Ghostbusters. Look! I didn’t have much life experience as a primary schooler! Ideas had to come from somewhere!
Thus, Kirby was my holy grail. As of Kirby’s Adventure, Kirby was the perfect combination of three things:
1. Kirby had practically no personality beyond “is heroic”
2. Kirby is a circle, and thus super easy to draw
3. Sometimes Kirby has a sword
And that’s all it takes. King Dedede was hard to draw, but Metaknight was a circle that permanently had a sword. Bam, we have a persistent enemy. Throw in an immobile tree and the occasion waddle whatever, and I could produce reams of paper all decorated with Kirby and his various adventures. It was primitive fanfic in its most primal form.
And then I actually wrote fanfic. Hell, it was a fanfic radio play.
Kirby’s Adventure is ultimately an easy game. There are frequent save points (on a system where even RPGs were stingy with allowing a break), multiple minigames that will grant you dozens of lives, and health powerups floating around roughly every seven inches. However, even the original Kirby adventure acknowledged that Kirby had an easy time of it, so it was possible to unlock Kirby’s Adventure Extra Mode. After finding every last switch and hidden passageway in the main game (no small feat back in the day before FAQs and firmly established Kirby “secret tropes” [aka hammer the up key any time you see a shadow: it’s a door!]), a much more difficult version of Kirby’s Adventure would be available. Kirby now had a limited three points of health, healing items restored a correspondingly meager half of their previous payloads, and all minigames were cranked up to “impossible” difficulty. More importantly, though, was that there was absolutely zero saving allowed. This was obviously a move to keep the lives counter important (no continues and limited lives would be more than a little marred by a “restart anywhere” save system), but the lack of even a “suspend game” option (if such a thing were possible on the NES…) meant that it would take an entire day to conquer a game as lengthy as Kirby’s Adventure. It took me weeks to finally finish Kirby’s Extra Adventure (which, reminder, when you are ten, is approximately the same length of time it takes to learn Hungarian as an adult), and when I finally saw that Nightmare cleared off the map, my prize was… a sound test.
So I decided to make the most of it.
My mother once gifted me a journal. I still have it in a place of pride on my bookshelf to this day…
However, if you look at the spine, you may realize I had other ideas for this “journal”…
(Oh, and I really enjoyed Home Improvement when I did that)
I used this tome to diary the things that were really important to me: videogame stuff.
(I was not a morbid kid, I just have never not been obsessed with Mortal Kombat)
This journal was mostly for writing down tricks I had figured out myself… Or absorbed from Nintendo Power.
I used this journal straight through from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the N64/Playstation. It stopped being used when I was in high school and began using a castoff laptop as my own, thus allowing me to digitally store my tips and tricks.
For the record, the final game featured in this book is Monster Rancher, and those pages serve a double nostalgia purpose of recounting all the CDs I had access to at the time.
But back at the beginning, once you get past the cover page, the first game featured is Kirby’s Adventure. And immediately beyond the listed tips on arena bosses and “mix” results, we have my magnum opus on Kirby & Bobby’s Adventure.
I wrote out an entire story for Kirby. It is hard to claim it is original, as it is basically just a retelling of the ending, but it is a story all the same. This was not only a basic tale of swashbuckling and swashswallowing, but also a fiction that had an accompanying soundtrack compliments of the Kirby’s Adventure sound test. Every sentence was punctuated with sound effects, and every act was accompanied by a new tune. I wrote out this whole narrative by hand complete with the appropriate musical “cues” and the exact numbers for the tones to match the sound test available on my NES. The transcribed “play” was only performed a scant three times: once for my mother, father, and grandparents. I understand that some children would be capable of getting all their relatives into the auditorium for their performance simultaneously, but the tiny TV that was attached to my NES did not promote a large viewing area. And, despite the limited number of showings, I kept that script for a Kirby play for the rest of my days. It is still surprisingly easy to find in my library!
And it should really be no surprise that I wrote and illustrated a Kirby comic based on Kirby Super Star for my “class art project” a few years later. I’ll share a page or two from that, because I kind of like the layouts here…
See, it is a retelling of Metaknight’s Revenge, but with Marx as Kirby’s permanent “helper”, because that explains why he is important in the inevitable sequel when…
Oh, never mind.
What’s my point? You are reading the logical endpoint of Kirby’s Adventure. … Or… the impossible endpoint of Kirby’s Adventure? Maybe both? Whatever! Everybody starts somewhere, and somehow I can point directly to Kirby’s Adventure as the first game that inspired me to just plain write. Everything you have ever read on this site, every Let’s Play, every Kingdom Hearts question, even the streaming nonsense: it all starts with this silly little pink ball occasionally transforming into a literal ball. Kirby’s Adventure inspired me on a core level, and now that little dude is a part of everything I write.
And you start it all with a circle…
SBC #07 King Dedede & Kirby’s Adventure
King Dedede in Super Smash Bros Ultimate
- He any Good? Yes, this article is all about Kirby and how he is an inspirationally easy to read character… And we’re gonna talk about King Dedede. It’s what he would do! Here we have a heavy hitter with good recovery, which seems like the obvious ancestor of K. Rool, and… Oh! Maybe that is why he was involved in that infamous trailer! Even if their connections are less overt than that, the crocodile king is never going to be able to smash a gordo across the field, so this penguin (?) wins.
- That final smash work? The cage match with a masked Dedede is an excellent reference to Kirby Super Star Ultra, but it is no “summon your entire army while slapping your tummy”. That was the good stuff.
- The background work? We are going to use Fountain of Dreams for Dedede, as he was apparently hanging out there for the entirety of today’s featured game. It has a basic layout, but is phenomenally cool to look at, which is appropriate for a boss-king. Four (warp) stars, would listen to the music over and over again.
- First Appearance: Remember how King Dedede was the secret hero of Brawl’s story mode? Back at his premiere, he feels even floatier, but is otherwise similar. And don’t listen to the haters, everybody loves a random side special that has the potential to be ineffective or a spiked ball of death.
- Classic Mode: Dedede’s “Royal Rumble” features the strangely high number of characters in Smash Bros that have levels of royal titles. While there are a handful of kings and princes, it appears that there are no actual queens in the cast, only princesses. Huh. Oh, and Master Hand is the finale, so that implies those severed limbs are somehow part of the monarchy. Maybe it’s the gloves.
- Smash Trivia: Everybody knows Sakurai “voices” the grunts and laughs of this jerk, right? Should I mention more interesting trivia, like how Dedede has never had the same Final Smash twice in this series? No, let’s stick to the VA thing.
- Amiibo Corner: The piping on the royal coat is amazing, and genuinely looks fuzzy. Also, cannot help but dig the metal outline on the hammer. The “Kirby Series” Dedede is not as detailed, but has the more dynamic pose of Dedede sticking his palm (flipper?) out like a sumo wrestler. Guess you can’t go wrong with this guy.
- Does Smash Bros Remember Today’s Game? Star wand, Fountain of Dreams, Nightmare assist trophy? Kirby’s Adventure is well represented across Smash.
King Dedede in Kirby’s Adventure
- System: Nintendo Entertainment System, Wii, WiiU, and Switch for the “original” experience. There is also Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland for the Gameboy Advance, which is a kinda-sorta remake with additional features. And there is the 3DS version, which added 3D visuals to the sprite work, and thus looks amazing.
- Number of players: Just one Kirby. You would have to wait for Super Star for a multiplayer experience.
- Favorite Ability (Inexplicable Edition): I have never gotten Ball to work properly. It seems like a natural thing for Kirby to roll around, and it is an obvious ancestor to his eventual golf and pinball adventures (or, ya know, that time he was straight up a ball forever)… But man does it suck in actual play. However, it seems like it might be fun, so it gets a nod.
- Favorite Ability (always forever edition): This was the first time Kirby got to swing a hammer around. Bless that silly monkey with the exploding coconuts, because I am going to use the hammer power every second it is available. It even works underwater!
- Favorite Boss: Heavy Mole, the leader of Yogurt Yard, is the rare mechanical Kirby boss (well, rare outside of that adventure where Kirby kept fighting robots). And, speaking of hammers, his yellow projectiles confer a random hammer ability! Hooray! And his red projectiles put you to sleep, inevitably killing Kirby in the auto-scroll. So he’s a robot and sneaky! Just how I like ‘em.
- An end: I do not care for the fact that the second-to-last challenge of the game is a timed shoot ‘em up. In the modern day, I find this genre switch annoying. When I was a wee Goggle Bob that had absolutely zero shoot ‘em up experience, I found this initially insurmountable. Yes, gentle reader, I am still mad.
- Further Nostalgia: This is the first game I can recall playing where a level distinctly and overtly referenced exact scenarios from a previous game. In this case, it is the final “normal” level where everything is black and white, and you must navigate through abbreviated areas reminiscent of Kirby’s Dreamland. I don’t recall seeing such a thing until Super Metroid’s introductory area a year later… and then it kept happening in every single videogame released after that. I think I can navigate Super Mario Bros. 1-1 in my sleep now…
- Did you know? Kirby’s Adventure contains a level that features Kirby hopping across a fleet of airships. This could either be a reference to the dear departed zeppelin boss Kabula of Kirby’s Dreamland, or a nod to the airships of Super Mario Bros. 3, which were iconic at the time. Or blimps are just cool. Whatever works.
- Would I play again: Yes. Absolute Yes. Why would you expect anything else? I’m going to keep playing/doing this for a while…
What’s next? Pichu is in the spotlight along with 1,000 or so of his closest friends. Please look forward to it!
My brother in frost, just go around!!!