Kirby and the lost land, the story of an all-pink hero

Kirby and the lost land, the story of an all-pink hero

Kirby and the lost land

Now that Kirby and the Lost Land is upon us, Nintendo's Pink Bat will return to the spotlight of arrogance, and this time it could stay there for a long time: in this semester so full of releases, the new title by HAL Laboratory remains one of the most anticipated. by Nintendo Switch owners. Firstly because Kirby is always colorful and irresistible, but also because the adventures of the character created many years ago by Masahiro Sakurai have become practically a fixture for every self-respecting fan of the big N. And when we say many, we mean exactly twenty: Kirby's debut dates back to April 1992. Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge ... and if you are curious to know what were the most important stages in his career of Kirby, all you have to do is keep reading our special Kirby and the Lost Land, story of an all-pink hero.

The Origins of Kirby

Kirby's Dream Land, Game Boy (1992) HAL Laboratory was founded in 1980 with a name that was already a whole program, as it was inspired by HAL 9000, the very famous computer of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Masahiro Sakurai joined the company around 1989 and in '92 he was only nineteen while he designs the protagonist of a new platform designed especially for the little ones. The game - which should have been called Twinkle Popopo - had to have a protagonist with a tender and imaginative aspect, so Sakurai draws a temporary sprite, without a precise shape, but gradually we become attached to the point of preferring it to the design originally conceived: thus it was born the pink wad we know today as Kirby.

Actually the origin of the name is still uncertain today. The most accredited hypothesis is that Sakurai or whoever was inspired by the Kirby Corporation, a Western company that at that time built vacuum cleaners, a tool that recalls the ability to swallow Kirby's enemies. Another slightly more extravagant theory refers to John Kirby, a Latham & Watkins LLP attorney who defended Nintendo in court during the Donkey Kong copyright infringement dispute accused by Universal Studios. Ironically, nowadays not even Sakurai himself remembers where the name Kirby comes from.

The game also changes its title and goes from Twinkle Popopo to Hoshi no Kabi, a more understandable Kirby's Dream Land in the West. Masahiro Sakurai still does not know it but is giving life to one of the most loved mascots of all time. In that period, more or less, the former software development coordinator, Satoru Iwata, became president of HAL Laboratory: the same man who in 2000 would have started working for Nintendo, only to become president three years later in place of Hiroshi Yamaguchi .

But back to Sakurai: therefore, our genius has just created a new platformer for Game Boy in which Kirby does not yet have half the powers we know today. If for this, it is not even colored since the screen of the first Nintendo laptop is monochrome: Masahiro Sakurai had conceived it in pink, while Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of Super Mario who had collaborated on the project, had thought it in yellow. . When in doubt, Kirby becomes completely ... white on packaging and in American advertisements.

Kirby takes his first steps

Kirby's Dream Land, NES (1993) Kirby's Dream Land is only the first episode of a franchise that is hugely successful and that generates a multitude of sequels: the first, Kirby's Adventure for the NES, is released in May 1993 and introduces the main characteristic of the protagonist, called the Copy ability, which allows him to mimic the powers of the enemies "aspired" and that from then on will appear in virtually every traditional adventure. Yes, because after Kirby's Adventure, HAL Laboratory begins to experiment with various spin-offs that do not fall into the category of platformers.

The first is Kirby's Pinball Land, a fun Game Boy pinball machine from 1993, which is followed by Kirby's Dream Course in 1995, an isometric golf game along the lines of Mario Golf. Kirby's Avalanche, also from 1995, is instead a puzzle inspired by the more classic Puyo Puyo by Compile, while Kirby's Block Ball is an arcade that owes a lot to Steve Wozniak's Breakout.

Kirby's Fun Pak, SNES (1996) Meanwhile, HAL Laboratory continues the development of the parent series with Kirby's Dream Land 2, again for NES, which introduces its first allies into the universe of the Pink Fluff: in this case we are talking Rick the hamster, Coo the owl and Kine the fish, three animals that can carry Kirby and modify his Copy abilities. Although rarely exploited in the years to follow, this gameplay dynamic would have inspired some of Kirby's best adventures, but today hardly anyone remembers his furry friends.

The next game, dated 1996, is still one of the most loved in our hemisphere, also thanks to a better distribution that brought it to the vast majority of stores. We are obviously talking about Kirby's Fun Pak, on whose box was the slogan "eight games in one": in reality they are eight game modes that include real adventures - including a 16-bit remake of the first Kirby's Dream Land - and minigames that would then become almost a permanent presence in the subsequent titles of the series. This release allowed HAL Laboratory to experiment with tons of gameplay solutions to work on over the years.

Kirby's Dream Land 3, SNES (1997) If we could divide Kirby's story into eras, this early age of stone would necessarily end with Kirby's Dream Land 3: the last game of the debut series that was released on SNES in 1997, representing the evolution of the series also on a technical level since it had gone from NES to Game Boy to SNES in the turn of few years. The game built on the solid foundations of previous titles: Kirby's animal allies returned - but there were six instead of three - and the drop-in / drop-out cooperative mode experienced in Kirby's Fun Pak. In addition to including various minigames, HAL Laboratory also invented another system to extend the duration of the adventure: by meeting certain requirements, in fact, the story did not end with the clash with Dark Matter, but continued with an additional final boss, Zero. Kirby's Dream Land 3 was also important for another reason: from now on, the developer experiments with new graphic styles, starting with a delightful pastel coloring.

An era of transition

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Nintendo 64 (2000) In the first ten years of the 2000s, HAL Laboratory fails to frame the path that Kirby will have to take. Lost in his labyrinth of hazards and experiments, the Japanese developer continues to try different paths while pursuing a central vein that is not always successful. The first title to usher in the millennium is Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards for Nintendo 64. It is also the first Kirby in 3D, or rather in 2.5D, and is a direct sequel to Dream Land 3, introducing the possibility of controlling Re He deduces, albeit indirectly. In this episode, HAL Laboratory plays with Copy skills: there are only six of them, but in reality they can be combined into so-called Copy Mix skills for a total of twenty-eight different results.

Kirby Tilt also comes out in the same year 'n' Tumble for Game Boy Color, a truly unique spin-off because it uses the accelerometer mounted in the same cartridge. The aim of the game is to guide Kirby along increasingly complicated timed paths by simply orienting or shaking the entire Game Boy.

Kirby and the Mirror Maze, Game Boy Advance (2004) Three years go by and per Game Cube only releases one title in the series, but it's another spin-off: Kirby Air Ride. This time HAL Laboratory looks into Nintendo, because the game is clearly inspired by Mario Kart. All the attention is turned to the portable consoles that follow one another in those years. First the Game Boy Advance, for which Kirby: Nightmare in the land of dreams comes out - the first chapter to be translated into Italian - which is a remake of the very first game for the NES, and then Kirby and the labyrinth of mirrors, in which the developer tries his hand with the metroidvania formula since portable Castlevanias were doing very well in those years.

On the Nintendo DS, on the other hand, we will first have the experimental Kirby and the obscure drawing, in which the touch screen was used to trace platforms, walls and detours instead of freely controlling the Pink Fluff. Two more classic games then follow, which are Kirby: Mice Attack and Kirby Mass Attack. In the first, the touch screen is still used to activate the Copy abilities and the items stored in Kirby's stomach; the second, on the other hand, is a platforming reinterpretation of the iconic Lemmings in which you control a multitude of Kirbys always using the touch screen.

Recent years

Kirby and the fabric of 'hero, Wii (2010) Between 2010 and 2020 Kirby lives a second youth, which begins with the award-winning Kirby and the fabric of a hero, a title that should have been released on Game Cube and which will instead see the light on Wii - and then on Nintendo 3DS - 2010 only. Featuring a unique style that transforms Kirby and his world into cloth and wool, it is one of the main games to sacrifice Copy abilities to give Kirby new powers. In this case, the protagonist can take on different forms and interact with the scenario in unique ways that intertwine, it should be said, the graphic style with the gameplay.

More traditional, and even a little banal, the title next for the same console: Kirby's Adventure Wii. It is an old school 2.5D platformer in which the player can control Kirby, although it is possible to face the adventure in co-op with three friends who take the commands of King Dedede, Meta Knight and Waddle Dee. For the next home console, Wii U, a decidedly more original title would be released in 2015, albeit a spin-off: Kirby and the Rainbow Brush is a direct sequel to Kirby and the dark drawing, in fact the player uses the GamePad to draw on the touch screen of the colored lines and thus lead Kirby to the end of each stage. Again, a new graphic style is attempted in which Kirby and his world are transformed into clay!

Kirby and the rainbow brush, Wii U (2015) On Nintendo 3DS, however, Kirby takes on more contours traditional. HAL Laboratory decides to go back to basics, limiting the experimentation to various minigames that in some cases will be published individually on eShop, for example Team Kirby Clash Deluxe. The two titles to come out for the Nintendo handheld console are Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Kirby: Planet Robobot. Both return to the origins of the series, with Copy abilities and a linear 2.5D setting, but HAL Laboratory takes advantage of the stereoscopic capabilities of Nintendo hardware to bring depth of field into gameplay as well. Planet Robobot exploits the third dimension a little less, replacing it with an exclusive dynamic that allows Kirby to pilot real mechs.

This return to the origins leads us, finally, to the more or less recent past, and to Kirby Star Allies for Switch: a traditional, colorful and visually inspired platformer, which however lacks a very low difficulty. Despite this lack, the HAL Laboratory title is particularly enjoyable in multiplayer, as it incorporates the mechanics of the helpers originally from Kirby's Fun Pak and allows you to control a plethora of secondary characters. Released in 2018, it was the only Kirby game to come out for the Nintendo Switch, apart from some stand-alone mini-games for eShop. Until now ...

The near future

Kirby and the lost land, Nintendo Switch (2022) Announced with great fanfare during Nintendo Direct in September 2021, Kirby and the earth perduta immediately attracted the attention of the fans of the Pink Puff because it represents a real revolution. If you have read the above lines carefully, you will have noticed that HAL Laboratory has never really crossed over into the third dimension: if we exclude some spin-offs, Kirby's main adventures almost always take place on two, two and a half dimensions, while his colleague Mario we just need to background the fourth and fifth dimension as well. And it is precisely the plumber that Kirby and the lost land is inspired by: halfway between Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario Odyssey, the new adventure of the Pink Fluff will catapult us into a whole new world that could have more than something in common with our ...

Inspired by all the best games published in twenty years and passing, the Japanese developer has worked on a game that represents the best of the series, between Copy skills and minigames, and that also finds space for two new gameplay dynamics: the Boccomorph, which allows Kirby to transform into tools and other elements of the scenario, and the upgrade of the Copy skills, which will allow us to evolve our favorite powers into even more destructive forms. In a few days we will tell you if Kirby and the Lost Land has kept the promises of its trailers - stay tuned the review is coming!

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