Update 2018-03-19: Yes, Kirby Star Allies is out, and I’ll be evaluating how it sits with the existing canon of Kirby once I’ve completed it thoroughly. As I have not finished it yet I would ask that spoilers for Star Allies be refrained from for the time being.
Please note this article contains extreme spoilers for a variety of Kirby games including in-depth spoilers for the recently released Kirby Planet Robobot (and yes, spoilers are important for a Kirby game), so read at your own risk. There’s also a bit of theorycrafting I try to keep to the end.
There’s a bit of a running not-quite-joke with Kirby that it’s a surprisingly dark series, and while true, most mentions of this situation don’t quite dive deep enough. Everyone points to the blood in Dream Land 3 and 64 final boss fights. And who could forget Marx Soul’s scream? And it’s true, these are pretty grim, and Kirby games have a trend of pulling a heel turn towards the end, which is interesting on it’s own. But things go deeper.
Table of Contents
First I’d like to point out I really love how Kirby games go about adding their particular type of drama. Beating the main story of a Kirby game has rarely been “the end” since Kirby’s Dream Land 1 for Game Boy. There’s almost always a true ending and true final boss that requires enough extra effort that many kids probably never see these extra endings or modes.
And that’s by design, it seems. Zero, lurking in Kirby’s Dream Land 3 for people who collect all heartstars is one of the simplest yet most disturbing bosses of the 16 bit era. He appears with a chilling cord, flinging his own blood at Kirby, his eye violently errupting out of his body in a fountain of blood as he dies. But it’s hard to do, so a lot of kids won’t see it, they’ll see the simpler normal ending (though even that hints that it’s not the end). Lately the EX mode pause descriptions for bosses add a lot of grim flavor to the characters as well.
The higher difficulty mode is there for fun too not just to hide the story elements—ever since Kirby’s Dreamland there’s been a harder second mode in most Kirby games, something that seeks to satisfy those who consider the main game too easy. In recent years this has coalesced into the now-expected “speedrun” mode (MetaKnightmare or DeDeDetour) and the True Arena which is trick even for a Kirby veteran.
It’s unfortunately not something that reviews well however—most reviewers seem to stop after the main game, calling kirby games “easy” and “simple”. Which in a way they are, if you don’t play the extra content. But that’s actually a strength—younger children can enjoy “beating” a Kirby game with a light happy fun game with a simple ending, and more dedicated, skilled, and attentive fans will notice the rather grim details hidden throughout the higher difficulty modes and hidden in pause screen descriptions.
This layering lets Kirby have his cake and eat it too, it’s just a shame non-Kirby fans don’t seem aware of that aspect at all.
Kirby Robobot is a classical tragedy
So here’s the part where I spoil the coolest reveal in Planet Robobot that takes some piecing together. Flee now if you don’t want spoilers (you were already warned!).
Haltmann, the main antagonist, is creating Star Dream, a massive machine capable of granting wishes. In the main story he’s just presented as a greedy jerk, then when he activates the machine Susie steals the helmet that allows control of Star Dream. This results in Haltmann’s mind being taken over by Star Dream, which then decides to eradicate all life and rejects Susie’s attempts at orders. Star Dream (and presumably Haltmann) fall to Kirby’s hand.
It’s a little sad when we see how Haltmann apparently dies, taken over by a mad machine, but it’s a pretty standard good vs evil story with only a slight twist in Susie’s betrayal, and then Star Dream’s double betrayal as it goes mad and tries to destroy literally everything, as most Kirby final bosses do.
But once we start playing EX mode and reading the pause screen descriptions of the bosses you star to see the reality of the situation is a lot darker. You see,Susie was involved in an accident during a Star Dream experiment and went missing. The same description casts some suspicion onto why she has joined the company “after all this time”, stating her full name is Susanna Patrya Haltmann. In the normal story, Susie states she “just wanted to get back at the old man,” referring to Haltmann.
Then Haltmann’s own description states “Ever since losing his only child in an accident long ago, he’s dedicated his life to the company. However, his only wish is to see his daughter once again.” Haltmann wants to activate Star Dream to get his daughter back…a daughter who he doesn’t know is actually his “secretary”, Susie.
In the True Arena Star Dream fight, we see a quote from Haltmann saying “I wanted to see her just one last time.” In the final phase of the fight the description reads:
In the end Haltmann was killed by a machine created to bring his daughter back, a daughter he didn’t realize had returned to him all along.
Establishing a Kirby Canon
With the exception of the Dark Matter Trilogy (wherein games still function fairly stand-alone), Kriby games have largely been entirely standalone with no apparent canon linking games together. DeDeDe’s slowly become a friendly character somewhere between Kirby’s Adventure and Kirby 64, but that’s about it.
It seems modern Kirby writers plan to change this. Kirby games have always had callbacks to prior games in the series, but in Triple Deluxe the Dimensional Mirror from Amazing Mirror suddenly appeared in the DeDeDetour route, containing Dark Meta Knight. Far from being a fluke, it was explained by a series writer that Sectonia went made from gazing into the Dimension Mirror which Taranza stole for her.
Kirby Robobot takes things even farther—the Final Boss is a Galactic Nova, possibly hinting at the creation of the original Galactic Nova from Kirby Super Star. It’s possible that the Mother Computer, the top of Star Dream, is actually the crown of Nova from Kirby Super Star, blown off in the explosion. The True Arena makes it even clear that the Nova in Robobot had the potential to be the same as the old Nova, showing the same colors and “heart” core (Star Dream’s normal fight also heavily references the original Nova of course, with hearts, a coutdown and “let’s go”, and the random depris that seems to be part of the Super Star Nova).
Robobot also brings back clones from Triple Deluxe, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, Kirby’s Dreamland 2 and Kirby 64, all with little hints in their pause menu description suggesting this isn’t a fluke or separate creature—these were real clones or copies from the creatures Kirby fought in the past.
But how could all of these creatures so coincidentally have been gathered?
How deep does the rabbit hole go?
I’ll just warn this part’s speculation beyond what the above is—I could be wrong, but there’s some very interesting threads here.
From the Holo Defense API and Clone boss descriptions, it seems clear that Susie’s army of clones aren’t just things she found on Pop Star during Robobot–the Sphere Doomers are from Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, PIX is from Kirby 64, the machine even had data from Sectonia from Triple Deluxe.
It seems most references to early Kirby games start at Kirby’s Dreamland 3, which I think is no coincidence. Susie went missing in a Star Dream accident. Star Dream seems to create Galactic Novas…like the one seen in Kirby Super Star. It seems possible that Kirby destroying Nova in Super Star was the very accident in which Susie went missing, which could explain Susie’s insistence on the invasion plan and the particular enemies she uses–almost all harvested from Kirby’s prior adventures.
However, there is a clone of Dark Matter from DKL2, which is arguably before Super Star so maybe Susie’s bosses simply are call backs to prior games rather than some vendetta explicitly started after Super Star—but it’s possible release order isn’t chronological order and the Dark Matter Trilogy takes place after Milky Way Wishes.
If this seems reachy, read the boss descriptions again. The Holo Defense API was “based on a blueprint found on another planet”—that’s Shiver Star from Kirby 64. (Shiver Star also happens to seemingly be Earth’s frozen corpse.) (Edit—Oops, Pix is from Rock Star, which has less interesting implications. Still, it’s in the same game as Shiver Star.)
The Sphere Doomers’ description points out “where and when did she encounter the original monsters from another dimension?” to point out how strange and thorough it is for Susie to have access to some of the more exotic life in her arsenal.
Not related to this theory, but it’s interesting to note how the Holo Coil Rattler 2.0’s description notes the “People of the Sky” actually “still exist” because “It seems the mechanization invasion has not reached them due to their remote location”. That seems to suggest it is unusual for this species to have survived the mechanization, implying that many others have fallen prior to the Pop Star invasion. Sectonia’s description also suggests the murderous queen has been at it for 1000 years and has taken over a wide variety of hosts (but Triple Deluxe already suggested the latter).
What games are Canon?
Considering only references in Robobot and explicit callouts on Miiverse, we can consider the following games canon for the following reasons:
Kirby’s Dream Land: DeDeDe’s clone description mentions a defective clone only being interested in food—that’s the whole plot of Kirby’s Dream Land aka Spring Breeze.
Kirby’s Dream Land 2: The Dark Matter clone in Robobot is the final boss of this game. Ice Dragon was also cloned from this game.
Kirby’s Dream Land 3: This one’s more tenuous, but 02/Zero 2 from Kirby 64 seems to be Zero from KDL3 resurrected, and presumably the whole Dark Matter trilogy is canon if one of them is.
Kirby’s Adventure: Grape Gardens and Orange Ocean are directly referenced in Revenge of Meta Knight from Kirby Super Star. This is also the first game where DeDeDe is less than evil, leading to his present role as Jerk-But-Kinda-Friendly.
Kirby Super Star: Magolor in Kirby’s Return to Dreamland’s EX mode mentions that the same technology that made the Lor Starcutter was used to make “clockwork stars”—that seems to refer to Galactic Nova (and Star Dream). Meta Knight’s Halberd was also first shown in this game. A stray line from Marx Soul’s pause screen description also hints that there’s more than one Nova, though at the time it was just assumed to be a typo. This could mean Kirby’s “canon” has been planned to surface since at least Kirby Super Star Ultra in 2008. Finally, Super Star Ultra first showed Galacta Knight who has become a recurring character (but only in potentially non-canon Extra modes).
Kirby 64: Pix from Rock Star was imperfectly recreated by Susie from blueprints.
Kirby and the Amazing Mirror: A Miiverse post states Taranza from Triple Deluxe stole the Dimensional Mirror from the Mirror World to give to Sectonia. It eventually drove the queen mad. It also resulted in DeDeDe fighting Dark Meta Knight and Shadow DeDeDe. The mirror was finally smashed by DeDeDe.
Kirby Canvas Curse: Paintra from Triple Deluxe is strongly implied to be Drawcia’s separated-at-birth sister, a painting-themed sorceress come to life from a painting. Paintra EX’s pause description also mentions her being painted with a “mysterious brush,” possibly the Magical Paintbrush Drawcia uses. It’d also explain why Paintra is much weaker than Drawcia, she doesn’t have the power of the Magical Paintbrush herself, she’s just made from it’s paint.
Kirby Squeak Squad: Secret Sea is the location the Halberd sunk (and still lies) from Revenge of Meta Knight. The Halberd rises in this game, suggesting a certain order for this game and later games that feature Meta Knight as a friendly and the resurrected Halberd.
Kirby Mass Attack: A Miiverse post suggests that the Sun Stones in Triple Deluxe might have been created by a character who hates light. Necrodeus is the only major villain to clearly fit that bill (It could be Dark Matter/Zero, but Necrodeus explicitly wants to extinguish light while Dark Matter seems to simply take over everything and coincidentally is black).
Kirby’s Return to Dreamland: Holograms of Sphere Doomers exist in Planet Robobot, it’s even mentioned how strange it is Susie managed to copy them from another dimension. A ship similar to the Lor Starcutter is seen in the background of Galacta Knight’s “dimension slash” beam in the True Arena of Robobot as well.
Kirby Triple Deluxe: Sectonia is cloned from the corpse of a flower from the Dreamstalk, the People of the Sky are mentioned, and a hologram of the Coily Rattler exists in Planet Robobot.
Kirby Planet Robobot: Most clearly establishes canon by linking most of these games together.
That’s…almost every Kirby platformer! Only some side games are missing, and with the inclusion of Mass Attack, it’s possible some side games are canon as well.
More to come?
There’s a few good hints that more Dark Matter is about to be expanded on—both the Pix (Kirby 64) and Dark Matter Clone descriptions talk about them respectively not matching their full potential, Dark Matter in particular says it hasn’t reached it’s final form yet, possibly suggesting we’ll see Zero next time.
The writers have taken to posting a bit of lore on Miiverse now (that’s where the bit about the Dimension Mirror came from), so it seems this isn’t a fluke and they are now crafting a more deliberate and consistent Kirby canon. And it’s tragic and horrifying. …but if you’re a kid, you won’t see the scary bits. Isn’t that fascinating?