Parental and political outrage over video games like Mortal Kombat, Wolfenstein 3D, and Night Trap made 1992 one of the most controversial years in video game history.
However, it was also the same year that one of the most family-friendly faces in the world of video games was born: Kirby.
The unique pink ball with big eyes is still found in titles that emerged 30 years after the original game’s release.
For Eliza Sharp, founder of the online fan account Kirby Kirby Informer, the character has stood the test of time as her games are far removed from the competition.
“Each Kirby game has its little gimmick, but it makes them different and unique,” she says. “She attracts me and makes me excited about the next title in the series.”
These included robotic costumes or the character teaming up with animal friends like a hamster named Rick.
Eliza’s introduction to the franchise came from her older brothers’ copy of Kirby: Canvas Curse for the Nintendo DS, and she says that she “practically fell in love with the character” from the start.
Kirby is popular for a variety of reasons, from music and family appeal to the variety and texture of games that have spanned more than two decades. Also, as Negative World noted, “Kirby has a great design. It’s expressive, iconic, instantly recognizable, and easy for kids to use. It fits perfectly with the main characters in the Game Boy game. It’s simple, but it works very well.”
Although Kirby games are generally the same all over the world, there are stark differences in marketing and advertising in some regions, particularly between Japan and America. The most noticeable change is that the character on the cover of Kirby games in Japan usually smiles and in America Kirby has an angry expression.
In an interview with Gamespot, Kirby: Triple Deluxe director Shinya Kumazaki said for the Japanese version of the games, “this cute image is the strongest image of Kirby, we think it will appeal to the wider audience.”
Kumazaki suggests that Kirby’s pretty paintings in Japan “attract most people to play”.
According to Kumazaki, the game’s developer, HAL Laboratory, is involved in all aspects of the games, including the packaging. However, US Nintendo has the final say in the US market. Kumazaki says “Kirby is a more attractive character than Kirby who is fighting hard, so we’re showing him in the US.”
The character first appeared in Kirby’s Dream Land on Nintendo Game Boy in 1992.