The Archetypal Hero
Kirby shows up fashionable late to the NES party and provides a final jolt to a dying system with this introspective tale of fulfilling the Hero Archetype.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #46/100
Developer: Hal Laboratory
This game has a lot of Japanese flair — I’m not sure how else to put it. Your character is a pink puffball that sucks in monsters and steals their abilities. Mini-games includes eating as many eggs as possible and an old Western dual. The opening sequence is a how-to-tutorial of how to draw kirby (“First you draw a circle…”). Your journey begins in vegetable valley and ends with a battle flight through the stars. This game leaves no ground uncovered, including the collective consciousness.
Along the way, you may become attached to the trials and desires of the pink enveloper, but by the end you realize that Kirby’s playful facade is just a cover for his performance as a Carl Jung archetype: the hero.
Kirby, used to having quite the refreshing naps, awakens to find that he did not get his usually-reinvigorating shut-eye. He realizes that no one is having dreams, so he goes to the Dream Fountain to find his arch nemsis King DeDeDe bathing in the waters. King Dedede destroys the dream rod into several pieces and spreads it amongst the land. Kirby then decides to track down the 7 star pieces to make the Dream Rod anew, bring peace back to the Dream Fountain and to restore nap-time for all of Dream Land.
While this is the nth reiteration of the hero cycle, I think a further dive into Kirby’s actions is worth while to really realize his complete encapsulation of the hero archetype.
Carl Jung described the hero as having a core desire to prove their self-worth through courageous acts to prove their competence and strength. To try and not play the template too closely, Kirby is made to have a combination of playful, cute and serendipitous success. One is never completely sold that Kirby is a “hero” in a traditional sense, which makes his fulfillment of all sides of the archetype unexpected.
As the game reaches its apex (collecting the 7th star from no other than King Dedede himself), the game shows the complete faults of the traditional hero: being afraid of being labeled as weak so always needing more battles to prove themselves, Kirby did not calculate that King Dedede might be living out his life as a Caregiver. The dream rod was infested with the evil spirit of a vampire, and through King Dedede’s actions, he protected dreamland from the terrible nightmares that would have followed.
Kirby, exposed for his arrogance, then does what could only be expected of the Hero: he rushes into the next battle to vanquish this evil spirit to reclaim his righteous, moral ground.
After flying through the cosmos to ground the spirit, Kirby uses his courage to slay the evil vampire. With the star rod no longer infested, Kirby is able to return the Dream Rod to the Dream Fountain for Dream Land. One gets the idea that while Kirby might be satiated with his place within Dream Land for know, it is only a matter of time before he once again feels like he has to reprove his purpose.
Given that there have been 14 Kirby titles released since this once, one gets the notion that Kirby no longer has agency in his actions; clearly, he is fulfilling what was predestined for him, a life of commitment to conquest and arrogance as he lives out his obligatory hero character for the rest of eternity.