Kirby is the titular pink puff and main protagonist of Nintendo's Kirby series of video games named after him. The series has been running for two decades, and nearly thirty titles have been released under Kirby's name, most of which are developed by HAL Laboratory Inc. or published by HAL for co-developing studios.
Kirby has been featured in his own anime series, many manga publications in several countries, and even an educational video co-starring Mario. He has his fair share in Nintendo's merchandising from all his appearances, although many of them are only released in Japan.
Kirby lives in his dome-shaped home in Dream Land, a country on his home planet Pop Star. His adventures take him throughout Dream Land and occasionally into local star systems for various reasons, and he has saved his home land several times.
Kirby is a small pink spherical creature with two stubby arms, two red feet, and two oval-shaped eyes with black pupils (with a faint shade of blue at the bottom starting with Kirby Super Star, which was brightened in later appearances). Kirby's cheek-blushes weren't introduced until his second game, Kirby's Adventure, where they appeared as two black whisker lines in artwork. In subsequent games until Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, they were depicted as three red diagonal lines in artwork, although they were usually always solid red ovals in-game (except Kirby's Dream Land 2, where they were missing from his sprite).
Kirby's body is soft and flexible, allowing him to flatten himself or expand like a balloon. Officially he is 20 centimeters (8 inches) tall,but the Super Smash Bros. games depict his height as about three feet when compared to the other characters. His weight is not known, although several parts of the anime and the Super Smash Bros. series suggest that he is light enough to be easily carried.
Kirby has no form of skeletal structure nor does he have teeth. The latter is confirmed in the anime episode A Dental Dilemma, where Hardy couldn't find Kirby's teeth to clean. His appearance has changed subtly over the years, his arms and body becoming more rounded and his facial features more defined with larger eyes. The new design has been used in all subsequent games.
Kirby is largely innocent, and has a cheerful demeanor and a positive attitude. He likes to help other people so much, sometimes he goes out of his way to do it; in the Dyna Blade sub-game of Kirby Super Star Ultra, he feeds Dyna Blade's chicks on his own (though expresses annoyance at Dyna Blade's chicks' constant noise-making before dragging them off to Whispy Woods to be fed by the constant dropped apples from the tree's branches) and teaches them how to fly. Throughout the many dangers he is put through, he is notably brave, maintaining a neutral expression almost constantly. This is especially evident in The Subspace Emissary. In the anime, he doesn't harbor dislike for anybody in particular, not even King Dedede or Escargoon who mostly cause trouble for himself, and mostly greets everyone he meets.
His personality in Kirby's Avalanche is different, where he is depicted as somewhat rude. This is especially evident with his encounter with Whispy Woods, where, despite being warned by Whispy Woods not to step on his roots, he steps on a root and then quips about wanting some apple pie.
Kirby's signature technique is his inhale, and has been performing it since Kirby's Dream Land. It is available in almost every standard Kirby platformer with the exception of Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby Mass Attack. Kirby: Squeak Squad's manual attributes this ability to his "powerful lungs", although all Kirby is ever seen doing is opening his mouth really wide and sucking up lots of air in the manner resembling a vacuum cleaner more than breathing. Traditionally, Kirby's inhale is unlimited in duration, but in Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, he tires after inhaling for several seconds, and has to take a short break. Kirby's Super Inhale is also introduced in the game, where, after inhaling for about a second, it becomes more powerful and can suck up larger objects. The Super Inhale returns in Kirby: Squeak Squad, and becomes even more powerful in Kirby's Return to Dream Land, where he can suck up stone blocks many enemies at once. In the same game, Kirby can inhales other Kirbys to steal their Copy Ability. In Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby gains an ability known as Hypernova by touching a bean of some sort, which allows him to inhale things as large as trees or move things made of stone or metal more than twice his size. Hypernova allows Kirby to inhale almost anything and send it back. In all games except Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby cannot inhale underwater.
After inhaling anything, Kirby has the option to either swallow it or spit it back out as a Star Spit attack. Starting from Kirby's Adventure onwards, Kirby gets a Copy Ability should the player choose to swallow an enemy with a special power. In Kirby's Adventure, Copy Abilities essentially let Kirby mimic whatever the enemy he had just swallowed, but in later titles like Kirby Super Star, each Copy Ability has multiple moves which Kirby can perform instead of just one or two. In Kirby 64, Kirby can combine Copy Abilites by inhaling two enemies at once, or throwing Ability Stars at enemies.
In early games, having a Copy Ability does not change Kirby's appearance drastically, aside from his color changing to orange or cyan in Kirby's Adventure, or wielding a weapon for abilities like Sword or Hammer. Kirby Supr Star introduced a continuous Vitality system instead of the traditional six bars of life, and is best known for introducing copy ability hats for Kirby, where most Copy Abilities give a different hat and makes Kirby look different, such as a burning headdress for Fire, a frozen crown for Ice, or a backwards baseball cap for Yo-Yo and Wheel. While the hats are absent after their introduction in the games Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64, both of which are incidentally not designed by Masahiro Sakurai, they are featured consistently in later titles.
Super Star also introduces the Helper system where Kirby could sacrifice a Copy Ability to create a Helper, an allied version of the enemy he had previously swallowed. Helpers have the same function as Gooey in Kirby's Dream Land 3. The new Helper would be controlled by the game or a second player. This feature has not yet been included in later Kirby games, although it was included in Kirby Super Star's remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra. Helpers were meant to be included in the unreleased game, Kirby GCN, where Kirby could summon three at once.
Since Copy Abilities are only present in Kirby's Adventure and most games after that, in Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby uses the inhale solely for the Star Spit attack. There are certain power ups which he can collect, such as a Mint Leaf (Sweet potato in Japan) which lets him shoot out unlimited and more powerful air pellets for a limited time, and Superspicy Curry, which has the same effect, but lets him shoot fireballs instead of air pellets. Kirby can collect food or other special items like lollipops that grant him beneficial effects such as healing or temporary invincibility.
Kirby has a soft, flexible body. This allows him to be flattened or stretched, always returning to his original shape. He can inflate himself, making himself more buoyant, and he can flap his arms to fly. In most games, he can do this indefinitely. He can exhale to deflate himself and use the exhaled air as an attack. This technique is known as the air gun/air bullet. In certain games -- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the Super Smash Bros. series, and Kirby Air Ride -- Kirby's ability to fly or float is limited.
When underwater, most of Kirby's Copy Abilities do not work, and he is largely limited to using the water gun attack, where he shoots a bubble of water in one of four directions (or a constant spray in some games), unless he happens to have Sword, Hammer, Parasol, or a few other abilities which can be used underwater. The water gun works just like the air gun, but Kirby does not need to inhale beforehand. In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, having the Water ability strengthens Kirby's water gun attack by having it reach farther and do more damage to enemies. In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby can inhale underwater.
In all games after Kirby's Adventure, Kirby can do a move known as the slide kick or slide attack while crouching as a basic attack that does minor damage. In Kirby & The Amazing Mirror and Kirby: Squeak Squad, if Kirby does a slide kick facing down a steep incline, he will roll down and over any enemies in his way. The slide kick is useless against most bosses and mid-bosses.
In Kirby Super Star (and its remake), Kirby's Return to Dream Land, and Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby has the guard move, which allows him to protect himself from enemy attacks, and take little to no damage. When playing with multiple players in Kirby's Return to Dream Land, the team attack, which sends out a large ball of energy, is performed by two or more characters guarding and releasing their guard at the same time after a set amount of time while riding piggyback.
He can also perform the normal beam in Kirby Super Star and Kirby Super Star Ultra near Helpers to revert them to an item state, which Kirby can inhale to reacquire the Copy Ability for himself. In the same games, he can get rid of his ability and toss it as an item, which Helpers can touch to claim that ability, which also saves the Helper from dying if they have run out of health.
Kirby Super Star and recent games have a feature where Kirby and other playable characters can share food with each other to restore health in a motion that resembles kissing. This is done by one character touching a recovery item, and touching another player within the next few seconds. It became a popular topic to parody in the Japanese manga series, and the 4Koma panels have a running gag about Kirby and Bonkers kissing each other when one is at critical health. The Kirby Super Star Ultra booklet refers to it as face-to-face food transfer.
In Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kirby can summon Gooey, who has the same function as Helpers in later games. Summoning Gooey sacrifices one of Kirby's pegs of health and makes his maximum health four pegs instead of five. Kirby can inhale Gooey again whenever he likes to restore one peg of health.