The Kirby series has always been one hallmarked by accessibility. Kirby’s games are easy to pick up and play– at any age or skill level. This has placed it squarely, largely, in the genre of children’s games. Despite some challenging titles and some very fun game play, Kirby does not skirt the kind of age boundaries that Mario games do. This title, however, which is a remake of a Super NES classic, does work toward eliminating that stigma.
KSSU answers the skill barrier by scaling up the difficulty of the progressive stories within the game. This title is organized into several subgames. Some are ‘minigames,’ that involve short bursts of non-narrative action, while several others represent individual stories. The first, and easiest, is a brief remake of the original Kirby game. It’s title is “Spring Breeze.” It takes just a few moments to play through, and can be best described as light-hearted relaxing platforming. The subsequent games– “Dynablade,” “The Great Cave Offensive,” “Revenge of the Meta-Knight,” “Milky Way Wishes,” and “Revenge of the King” all increase in difficulty.
The Story Unfolds
Most of the games in this title, with the exception of “Milky Way Wishes”, involve Kirby thwarting the plans of one of his world’s other denizens. In the first and last games, he defeats King Dedede and foils his scheme to collect all the food. Dedede’s plans are little more than mischief. In “Revenge of the Meta Knight,” things are a little more complicated. In the American translation, the Meta Knight seeks to conquer Dream Land to end its ‘sleepy lifestyle.’ Kirby wishes to stop him from disrupting the status quo. In the Japanese version, Meta Knight wishes to use his gigantic airborne battleship Halberd to rout one of King Dedede’s plans. Kirby seeks to stop Meta Knight because his plan involves the use of massive force to stop a small threat– King Dedede and his minions are seen as nuisances more than actual enemies. In these games, Kirby is merely cleaning up internal struggles between himself and other powerful figures in his world.
In “Milky Way Wishes,” however, things are much more complicated. The plot of this game is surreal, almost like a children’s fantasy story book. Marx, a character dressed like a Harlequin and is stylized similarly to Kirby or the Meta Knight, bids Kirby put an end to fighting between the Sun and the Moon. The squabbling celestials are bringing a constant shift between day and night, and casting Dream Land in a restless strobe. Kirby then ventures into deep space to gather the power of distant planets and summon the great Comet NOVA, which is a giant mechanical assemblage of clockwork and rocks. NOVA is on par with similar creatures from media such as Unicron, but far more benign.
The complication from this is what further separates this subgame from the others. Marx, whose name probably has more to do with the famous comedian brothers than with any political or philosophical figures, is tricking Kirby, so that he can take NOVA’s power for himself, and conquer Dream Land and reshape it in his own grotesque image. Marx’s plan backfires. As he and NOVA move in on Dream Land, the Sun and Moon stop squabbling and move to intercept. This gives Kirby his opening to take Marx on and defeat him.
The use of a Harlequin as a villain is not new. There is a lot rooted in this type of character, as social misfit, jealous fiend, trickster, betrayer, and corrupter, such as in Heart of Darkness, Pagliacci, Dimentio from Super Paper Mario, or even with Batman’s Joker. The use of it here is so stark because there is absolutely no back story to Marx. He simply appears in the prologue of the subgame, and again at the end. His motive is pretty purely evil, and even those other characters have some type of motivation or madness.
Simplicity at its Best
As much as the Kirby series has been chastised for being too simple, it has been acclaimed for the same reason. Kirby games are solid platformers, with a very unique art style and mechanics that lend to fun and engaging experiences without a lot of overcomplicated controls or bells and whistles. This collection of games shows that this simplicity in design can be coupled with simplicity in writing and still create a good breadth of variety and detail.