Kirby 20th Anniversary Collection Speculation - Article

By Matt Ashbaugh, April 23, 2012
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This article is the work and opinion of a single writer and does not necessarily represent the thoughts and/or opinions of gamrReview as a whole.

A recent Nintendo Direct news event in Japan revealed that we will be seeing a “special Wii disc featuring all your favorite Kirby games" this year, the year which marks the character's 20th anniversary. They didn’t announce what these games would be exactly, but it isn’t too hard to figure out.

But first, I know what a lot of people are thinking. Mario and Kirby get anniversary collections, Zelda gets a symphony series, but what about Metroid? Well, in twenty years the Kirby series has had twenty games and an anime series, while the Metroid series has seen ten games and one collection in twenty five years. 

kirby vs metroid samus

I'm not saying that quantity outweighs quality but when Nintendo is looking for something that will sell – and they’ve already dipped into the Mario and Zelda well - they're going to go with Kirby, not Samus. Complaining about it isn’t going to fix anything, just crank up Super Metroid again and enjoy yourself Metroid fans.

Now, full disclosure, I consider Kirby’s Dream Land to be the first ‘real’ game I’d ever beaten. Sure, I played a few rounds of Pac-man in arcades or Buzz Bomber on my Dad’s Intellivision, but the first system I got was an original Gameboy. I skipped right past Tetris and Super Mario Land and booted it up for the first time with Kirby. Granted, I went on to devour any game I could get my young hands on, but it was when I had defeated King Dedede that my love of gaming crystallized. I just have a soft spot for the super tough pink puff and have played every single game he has appeared in.

The Kirby franchise is actually quite diverse, with platformers, racers, pinball, puzzle games, and even minigolf. Picking a collection that shows off the best Kirby games would be a bit difficult but we can solve this mystery by simply deducing how Nintendo’s mind works. First off, they consider the portable and the console markets completely separate things. Console games can eventually go to the handheld but it will never go the other way (unless they are trying to sell some adapter add-on). They said the collection is for the Wii so right off the bat you can rule out any of the Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, and DS Kirby Games. Also it wouldn’t make financial sense to include any of the recent Wii titles that are still in stores, so those are out.

kirby kirby kirby

Well that sure narrowed it down

Really it just comes down to the games that came out on the NES, Super NES, N64, and the GameCube. Let’s have a rundown of these remaining candidates and try to figure out how this anthology might shape up.

Kirby’s Adventure
First released May 1993 for the Nintendo Entertainment System

kirby adventure

Not the first game in the franchise (that honor goes to the 1992 Kirby’s Dream Land for the GameBoy) but the first one to introduce elements that we still associate with Kirby today. This was the game that introduced Kirby’s copy ability and his pink color. It is also when we were first introduced to the series' antihero – MetaKnight.

Showing up very late in the NES’ life cycle, it pushed the console to its limits and still holds up today. It may be on the easy side, but it has an 8-bit charm you can’t deny. It has already seen a few re-releases on the Virtual Console and a ‘3D Classic’ version on the 3DS, as well as an updated re-release in 2002 called Kirby: Nightmare in DreamLand on the GBA. Even with those many ways you can play it today you can bet that if they want to show Kirby in his early days, this is the game they’ll choose.

Chance of being in the collection: 10 out of 10

Kirby’s Dream Course
First released February 1995 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System

kirbys dream course

Replace the sand traps with spike pits and suddenly golf gets really interesting

Nintendo has been using Kirby as a sort of “fix all” whenever they have a game concept that just isn’t working. They did it with Kirby’s Epic Yarn and they did it with this game, which was originally going to be called Special Tee Shot (catchy).

Dream Course played like a standard isometric miniature golf video game, where you smack Kirby around the course instead of a golf ball. Kirby’s copy ability is what keeps this game from fading into mediocrity. You can gain the tornado ability which lets you steer the ball when in motion, stone ability which stops the ball in its tracks, and many more. You could also use these powers to attack your opponents in multiplayer, causing them to lose turns.

Even if this isn’t a ‘true’ Kirby platforming game it definitely is a game that showcases the spirit of the franchise. It deserves to be included in the collection if only to round out the package and keep it from being only platforming over and over again. I wouldn’t hold your breath though.

Chance of being in the collection: 6 out of 10

Kirby’s Avalanche
First released February 1995 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System

kirby's avalance

Kirby has to fight evil trees more than you'd expect

What do Dr. Robotnik and Kirby have in common? They both starred in their own Western Puyo Puyo clones. Sega Genesis got Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and SNES got Kirby's Avalanche. Colored blobs fall from the top in sets of two and when you combine four or more of the same color they disappear. If a player manages to set off a chain reaction with these blobs, rocks will fall on the other player's screen that can only be removed through additional matching.

It's a fun little puzzle game but it has two big things working against it. Firstly, even though it has some of the Kirby characters on the sidelines, the base game has nothing to do with the series. The copy ability never comes up. The Kirby re-skin is purely that, it is just a wrapper. Secondly, this game only came out in Europe and the USA, not Japan. It's the Japanese developers and publishers who will choose what games get into the collection so it's very unlikely they'll horn in this Puyo Puyo clone.

Chance of being in the collection: 2 out of 10

Kirby Super Star
First released September 1996 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System

kirby super starkirby super star

You get to defeat a giant metal bird with a yo-yo ... are you not amused?

Best. Kirby game. Ever.

No, seriously. If you only play one Kirby game in your life make it this one. It took the lessons learned in Kirby’s other platforming games and took it to a whole new level. Every one of the dozens of copy abilities had its own moveset. A different copy ability meant you had to control Kirby in a whole new way. Best of all, at any time you could turn an ability back into the enemy you absorbed as a “helper” character. This also works with drop in/drop out multiplayer, allowing a second player to control the helper.

The game touted being “8 games in one” on the box, which in reality was 5 platforming games, 1 platform racer, 2 minigames, and a boss rush mode. Games ranged from the cakewalk that was ‘Spring Breeze’, to the treasure hunting ‘Great Cave Offensive’, to the difficult and alternate copy mechanic-filled ‘Milky Way Wishes’. The recent DS re-release Kirby Super Star Ultra is fun and has a few more minigames, but if you want the joy of playing with a friend on the TV, you have to go with the original (or I guess on the Virtual Console). Any Kirby collection missing this game isn’t worth buying and they would be foolish to not include it.

Chance of being in the collection: 10 out of 10

Kirby’s Dream Land 3
First released November 1997 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System

kirby dreamland 3

Think of it like Pokemon ran through a "painfully adorable" filter

True to form for Kirby, this was the last first party American release for the SNES. Most people had already been playing their N64 for over a year when this game came out. Not only that but it was a direct sequel to a series that had only been on the GameBoy up to that point, and was also not under the direction of its creator. It didn’t help that it had to follow Kirby Super Star.

It was by no means a bad game, just a standard Kirby platformer with six different animal friends to join forces with. Your copy abilities would change based on which animal you were riding. If there was any chance of them including his portable titles, this might have been passed over. However, seeing as how this is the only console game in the franchise to have his animal pals in it and the fact that most people missed this one the first time around, this has a better chance than you might think.

Chance of being in the collection: 7 out of 10

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
First released June 2000 for the Nintendo 64

kirby 64

Kirby's a lumberjack and he's ok.

Yet again, Kirby arrived late to the console party; it was only a year before the GameCube would show up. The first Kirby game to use 3D models, this 2.5D platformer had its charms. It was a direct sequel to Dream Land 3 and the plot was something about gathering crystal shards to stop some evil entity called Dark Matter. The gameplay was of a slower pace, but it had a unique copy mechanic. There were only seven total base abilities you could copy, however you could combine two to make a new one. You could either merge two like abilities together to get a mega version or you could (for example) mix Burn with Cutter to get a Flame Sword. With these combinations you could create 35 different abilities and to get a full 100% completion you would have to at some point use all of them.

It is by far one of the easiest Kirby titles. Still, it is an enjoyable game that gives you the rare opportunity to control King Dedede. Plus the final boss is quite a fun and rewarding battle for finding all of the crystal shards. This would be a nice end to the 20th anniversary collection.

Chance of being in the collection: 9 out of 10

Kirby Air Ride
First released October 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube

kirby air ride

The only Kirby game to grace Nintendo’s purple lunchbox was of all things, a racing game. Unlike most racers, you automatically glided forward without any need for input. You use a single button to control things like braking, copying powers, or switching vehicles. It was fun enough and was also where the spectacular grid achievement system found in both Super Smash Bros Brawl and Kid Icarus: Uprising was first used. Even though the game has plenty of fans, it doesn’t have a big chance of being included.

While Masahiro Sakurai (Kirby’s creator) was the designer, his experience with the development of this game caused him to resign from Hal Laboratory (the second party developer responsible for Kirby, Earthbound, and Smash Bros among other games). He openly criticized Nintendo about the circumstances surrounding the development of this game, which if you know anything about the culture of business in Japan should be very shocking.

To make everything worse, it released close to both Mario Kart: Double Dash and F-Zero GX, so there wasn’t really enough arcade racing love to go around and it sold poorly. Go to your local used game seller and you will find multiple copies of Kirby’s Air Ride in the $5 and under bin. I’m not saying it's a bad game, but would you include the very thing that separated Kirby from his father in this collection?

Chance of being in the collection: 1 out of 10

So in my opinion the collection should include:

kirby 20th collection

I didn't put that shine in ... Kirby Super Star just does that on its own

While I hope I am wrong and we end up seeing up-rezed versions of some of Kirby’s best portable games included, Nintendo is pretty consistent. I do hope they at least include five titles instead of keeping it to four like usual, but getting your hopes up usually isn’t wise.

What do you all think? What is your favorite Kirby game?

Leave a comment below.

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