Even as an American, it never occurred to me that the in-game cuteness of the iconic Kirby character doesn’t really carry over to the box art – where he’s typically portrayed as a Pokemon ripoff in need of anger management courses.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at this decade-old print ad for a new Kirby game in the U.S.:
Somewhere down the line, Nintendo America producers decided that Kirby should be portrayed as tough and menacing on American shores in order to appeal to U.S. audiences, who at the time were still in love with macho heroes from the ’80s action movie heydays. Even if the hero in question was a puffy pink ball of cute, Americans apparently craved sheer anger in their main characters – a far cry from the Japanese, who were raised on Kirby as an adorable, smiling murderer that ate his victims whole and gained their power like some fantasy world maniac.
It sort of makes sense, given the subject matter of Kirby ruthlessly vacuuming his enemies into his mouth whole, that he might be more at home with an angry look, but we digress.
According to Gamespot.com, Kirby: Triple Deluxe game director Shinya Kumazaki acknowledges that while the Japanese prefer a more cutesy portrayal of Kirby, the character does indeed have more depth than just an adorable, pudgy face and that the game’s storylines have become progressively darker in recent years.
Supposedly this is why Japan will see its first mad muggin’ Kirby ever with the release of Kirby: Triple Deluxe, which will use the same enraged Kirby box art in both the U.S. and Japan.
Interestingly, they say that Japan tends to be around 10 years behind America when it comes to pop culture trends. Will this new, more menacing Kirby bring about an age of moody, grey and violent games the likes of which we’ve been seeing in the U.S. for the past decade or so?
▼ Call of Cutie: Kirby Warfare… We’re not very good at puns.