Kirby began as an entirely different character design named Popopo that starred in Masahiro Sakurai's early Game Boy game in development, originally called "Twinkle Popo". During development he used a placeholder sprite resembling a ball with a happy face on it. Sakurai eventually came to prefer this more simplistic design and decided to use this character design instead of the original one. The little protagonist was eventually named Kirby and the game itself named Kirby's Dream Land. A later design change gave Kirby one of his most alluring characteristics -- his color. Kirby was originally to be yellow, but Sakurai had imagined him as pink. His name is believed to have one of two possible inspirations: a vacuum cleaner company named Kirby Company, or the legal counsel of Nintendo, John Kirby, who saved Nintendo during a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Universal Studios over the name of Donkey Kong.
Kirby's round pink form is only 20 cm (8 inch) in height (though in his appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series, his dimensions are obviously enlarged). Kirby is a resident and the consistent hero of the yellow star-shaped planet Popstar. He can Inhale forcefully, allowing him to swallow enemies in front of him and copy their abilities to fight back (known as a Copy Ability). He can also store the air he inhales, making himself large and puffy, enabling him to float around. His species, of which himself and Meta Knight are the two most prominent individuals, is not officially named, but is most commonly referred to as "Kirbys", alternately spelled "Kirbies", "Star Warriors", or "Puffballs".
Main article: Kirby (SSB)
Kirby is a starter character in Super Smash Bros.. Kirby is known for his great recovery, quick attacks which gives him a great combo ability, his incredibly fast up tilt, and surprisingly long-range aerials, all of which place him high in the original game's Tier list, placing 2nd only behind Pikachu. Kirby's trademark move is Swallow, which allows him to him suck in enemies caught within the vortex and emulate their neutral special attack.
As a playable character
Main article: Kirby (SSBM)
In Kirby's return appearance in the GameCube game, he gets a redesign and has new attacks that includes the Hammer Special Move as his new forward special move. He is still a starter character, and is still a floaty, lightweight character that can jump five times in midair. However, Kirby has been severely nerfed, losing most of his power, combo ability, and speed from Smash 64. In the time-tested viewpoint of the Smash community's elite, "Kirby's tournament viability has dropped like a stone". This nerf has significantly dropped him in the F tier, placing him all the way down to the last placing of the tier list.
Kirby is the most extensively represented character in Melee trophies: In addition to having his set of three trophies earned through single player modes, there are five trophies named "Kirby Hat" that provide information about the powers he gains with his in-game inhale ability. See List of Copy Abilities.
His Classic mode trophy reads as follows:
There are also trophies depicting Kirby in various guises he has taken in Kirby games:
As a playable character
Main article: Kirby (SSBB)
Kirby returns for his third appearance in the Wii version of the Smash series. He was revealed in all trailers for Brawl before its release (also being the only character who didn't undergo drastic changes in graphics, as shown by the trailers), and was confirmed on the official website on June 7, 2007 . He rounds out the roster again as a starter character, and is finally not the sole representative character for his series with the inclusion of King Dedede and Meta Knight. It would seem that he is a lot closer to his N64 "glory days" in Brawl than he was in Melee, having increased reach, speed, power, combo ability and aerial mobility. He is probably the character who improved the most from Melee to Brawl, along with Mr. Game & Watch, and is ranked 20th on the current tier list in D tier.
Many of Kirby's forms are made into trophies in Brawl.
Main article: Cook Kirby
Main article: Kirby (SSB4)
Kirby returns as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Kirby's Hammer attack has been replaced with a similar move called Hammer Flip, and his Final Smash was changed to Ultra Sword. Kirby does not have a new dash attack, unlike the last two games in the series.
At SSB4's initial release, Kirby had been nerfed since Brawl, with his overall range being reduced. However, Kirby benefits from general gameplay changes of SSB4, such as the changes to hitstun canceling, which allow him to perform combos more effectively. Kirby was also noticeably buffed courtesy of game updates to both versions of SSB4, improving his approach and KO power. The gameplay changes that the updates brought about have also improved him to the point that his status relative to Brawl is much more even. However, Kirby has below average tournament results, which has resulted in his tier position being worse than it was in Brawl. He is currently ranked 41st on the tier list, placing him in the F tier, although his current placement is debated due to several players arguing that he should be slightly higher.