Smash Bros: Why Kirby is Sakurai’s Hero (Off the Record)

smash bros kirby logo

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. But perhaps no company has embraced the offbeat protagonist quite like Nintendo. From an ambitious Italian Plumber to a lowly forest boy without a fairy, Nintendo franchises continue to adopt the an “underdog” mentality. But what happens when Nintendo consolidates all of its protagonists into a singular game? Who would rise to the top to save the day? Thankfully, Sakurai answered our beckoned call. In the most recent installment of the Super Smash Bros franchise, an unlikely hero emerged: Kirby.

Off the Record is a series that dives into the cultural and symbolic references hidden in many of our favorite video games. We explore how development secrets, story arcs, and gameplay aesthetics connect to ancient traditions and mythology.

To the Stars

The World of Light’s antagonist, Galeem, is an astonishing foe. This destroyer’s attack on our Smash Bros heroes and heroines was nothing short of outer-worldly. Only the supernatural could survive such a devastating phenomenon. But which of Nintendo’s vast number of champion characters was fit enough for such a challenge?

It turns out that Sakurai’s choice was also the most unlikely. While most would assume that he would choose the Hero of Hyrule or the heroine of the Metroid franchise, the Smash icon settled on the pink savior of Dreamland. But what qualifies Kirby to be Smash Ultimate’s protagonist?

In an interview with Famitsu magazine, Masahiro Sakurai revealed why he chose Kirby. By using the power of the Warp Stars, Kirby was the only Nintendo character capable of avoiding Galeem’s vicious attack. So Kirby’s power was not internal fortitude but his external relationship with the heavens. But is this really the reason why?

Even Creators Have Nostalgia

While most fans associate Sakurai with the Super Smash Bros franchise, the storied developer has his roots in much more humble beginnings. Sakurai began his career in video games at HAL Laboratory where he created the Kirby franchise. As he continued to expound upon the series, Sakurai became restless and eventually left the company. He formed Sora Ltd in 2005, but his passion continue to lie in his original character.

For you see, Kirby was a mistake. An accident. A “placeholder”. The tiny pink ball of fluff was never meant to be the final design. But as the first Kirby’s Dream Land reached the final stages of development, Sakurai fell in love with the simplicity of a pink fury ball. Thus, the legend of Kirby was born.

As Sakurai pitched his idea for the first Smash game, surely the little pink ball was at the back of his mind. Knowing that Nintendo craved accessibility, he created Kirby with a set of skills that even the most novice of gamers could grasp. The elegant “floating” recovery combined with a nimble array of kicks made Kirby a must-select for new players. After nearly 20 years of success, the decision of which character would be the most accessible for Smash Ultimate proved to be an easy decision. The first character Sakurai ever fell in love with. His original creation. The “placeholder” character: Kirby.


And there you have it: the reason why Kirby is Sakurai’s hero in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. But we want to know what you think. Are you surprised that Kirby is the hero in World of Light? Which character would you have chosen for Smash Ultimate’s protagonist? Let us know in the comments below or the social media links on the right. Also, be sure to check out our other news items on Final Fantasy VII RemakeAnimal CrossingModern Warfare, and more.

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