Lessons on the Social World: Kirby

2012 Marked the 20th anniversary of everyone’s pink ball with an oral fixation: Kirby.  This week I finally got around to picking up the Kirby 20th anniversary collection, and playing through some of the games got me thinking. What is the Kirby franchise instilling on the world? What life lessons are we learning about the social world as we go around stealing other people’s abilities?

So that brings me to-

Lessons on the Social World: Kirby

With games spanning over two decades, Kirby has been a household name for sometime. I grew up playing his games- Kirby’s Adventure is still one of my favorite games of all time, and in my top 5 NES titles of all time. The franchise has always been one of unbridled happiness; there’s not a dark bone in it and the characters and settings ooze of pink silliness (That sounds terrible, actually).


Kirby is a man..woman..puff ball… of many hats. The biggest gameplay quirk in the Kirby franchise comes from the ability to take enemies abilities and use them to your will.  Kirby can obtain abilities anywhere from wielding a sword to turning himself into a laser; if you can steal it, you can do it.  Some may say he’s a down right dirty stealer, who murders his victims and steals their best abilities. All of that is true. Kirby is a terrible monster, but it’s pretty fun to be a monster. One could theoretically go through out an entire game and only use Kirby’s basic abilities, but wheres the fun in that? Kirby teaches us that to get through life you have to take on many different roles and aspects; ya gotta be multifaceted. That’s a great lesson to learn. Learning how to go with the flow and take on roles as they come to you will serve our youth well.


Kirby is a political activist, in case you didn’t know. He’s not getting bogged down in litigation or special interest; he’s taking his message to the streets! The original Kirby’s Dreamland tells the tale of our hero, Kirby, going after the tyrant King Dedede. Dedede has stolen all of dreamland’s food and is keeping it all for himself, so it’s up to Kirby to redistribute the goods to the people of Dreamland. Of course, through Kirby’s political maneuvering King Dedede eventually reaches across the aisle and sees the errors of his way, but whats this classic tale of a greedy king telling us? It’s social resistance, of course!  Kirby doesn’t stand by and just watch the powers that be take and take, he takes action and rebels! That’s a good lesson to learn, but hopefully it won’t lead our youth to distrust royal birds. The emperor penguin would be screwed.

You Gotta Suck to be The Best

Collaboration. Kirby teaches us that we gotta work together. Whether that means taking someone’s abilities, or working with your friends, the Kirby franchise is all about team work. Kirby is aided by his friends in many of his main outings, and they enable to take on bigger and better heists of powers and foods. Sure, Kirby’s friends aren’t exactly the type of company you’d care to keep- one is a fish that seems orally fixated on having Kirby in his mouth, one is a blog that seems to get some sort of weird fix out of rubbing her body all over Kirby, and one is an tyrant king who steals food from poor inhabitants and forces creatures in servitude. But hey, you gotta make strange bedfellows to get anywhere in this world. Also, sometimes it’s just good to rely on yourself…the many duplicate copies of yourself that is…I don’t know how that transfers over, other than maybe a promotion of cloning. We’re in strange ethical waters now..

Things are more serious in America

A more absurd takeaway from the Kirby franchise is in Nintendo’s promoting of the series via official artwork. Over the years, Nintendo of America has made some odd alterations to the official box arts design they receive from Japan, most notably is that they have switched an otherwise happy Kirby to an angry Kirby on several of the franchises box arts. Why? Who knows. Maybe NOA thinks Americans like their characters pissed. Or maybe there’s something about heading outside of Japan that just makes Kirby naturally angry. It could be that the boxarts just do it themselves; Kirby perhaps hates America! If there’s one thing that we can take away from all this is that America is a much more serious place than the whimsical land of Japan, where pink balls have the delight of going on adventures without anger or frustration. What a terrible land we live in that does this to creatures whom only want to suck and feast on the bounty of abilities in their way.

Other quick Lessons!

  • Eat what you want and when you want, even if that thing is alive and fighting.
  • Trees are can and will attack you.
  • Anything and everything can be used as a weapon, as long as it’s in your mouth.
  • Yarn is both epic and beautiful.
  • Eating strange things may give you powers.

So that’s it. I know this article was a little skimpy on the sociology and, well, anything redeeming, but I hope it was worth a smile or two. The Kirby games are great games, for young and old. They’re virtually harmless games, they’re great ways to introduce platformers to younger kids and casual gamers. So, here’s to another 20 years of the pink ball that couldn’t stop sucking.


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