Games

Random: Sakurai Originally Wanted Kirby To Grab Enemies With His Tongue

Kirbys Dream Land
Image: Nintendo / HAL Laboratory

We’ve been talking about Masahiro Sakurai a lot recently, haven’t we? The creator of Kirby and Smash Bros. has started up his own YouTube channel, where he’s already amassed over 200,000 subscribers, and he’s already released one video about ‘hit stops’.

Sakurai has also started a miniseries on the channel called ‘Game Concepts’, which is where the game designer will talk about the games he worked on and how he came up with the concepts for each one. His first video focuses on Kirby’s Dream Land — which is the first game Sakurai directed.

The video is a lovely look back at just what inspired Sakurai to create the pink puffball, and he talks about why he made the game easier in an era where video games were more difficult, and the fact that he wanted Kirby to ‘fly’ because he thought it would be too harsh to lose a life for simply missing a jump (looking at you, Castlevania).

But Sakurai drops one amusing tidbit early on in the video. Kirby’s most-recognisable skill is the ability to suck up enemies and take on their powers. The latter part didn’t come until later, but in Kirby’s Dream Land, he could still suck up enemies and spit them out — and that’s how he defended himself. But Sakurai admits that he originally wanted Kirby to use his tongue to grab the enemies rather than by deeply inhaling.

Sakurai goes in depth about the “risk and reward” side of using enemies to your advantage, comparing the puffball to Mega Man — who doesn’t use enemies per se but does get their abilities. But the director wanted there to be an easier way to use enemies rather than just getting their skills as rewards, and he wanted Kirby to use his mouth:

“At first, I wanted Kirby to use his tongue to grab foes, but in the end, I decided to have him inhale them and spit them out. The tongue idea might make you think of Yoshi, but this was back before Yoshi existed.”

Perhaps Yoshi has Kirby to thank for his adept tongue-grabbing skills! And we assume that Sakurai is talking about the design and creation phase of Kirby, as Yoshi would debut first in Super Mario World.

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We’re not sure Kirby would still retain that adorableness if he grabbed enemies with his tongue — not that eating them by sucking them up is any less terrifying or weird, but it’s synonymous with the little fella at this point. We couldn’t imagine Kirby any other way!

Kirby’s Dream Land just recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, along with the entire Kirby series, so the timing of this video is perfect. You can watch Sakurai’s full video below, which is a short and sweet five-minute rundown of the philosophy behind the original Game Boy game.

The next video will be all about 1993’s Kirby’s Adventure, so we wonder what we might learn about the NES game when Sakurai decides to upload the next chapter in his Game Concepts series.

What did you think of the video? Are you surprised Sakurai wanted Kirby to use his tongue? Float on down to the comments and let us know!

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