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Kirby Almost Didn't Become A Video Game Character. Here's Why

"First you draw a circle, then you dot the eyes. Add a great big smile and presto, it's Kirby!" This is the opening of Kirby's Adventure for the NES, and it is a perfect summation of the simple, loveable Nintendo character imagined by Masahiro Sakurai. Kirby's design is so basic, yet so appealing, one might assume he was created without much thought. And if that was your first guess, you would have guessed correctly.

The bouncy, floaty hero who possesses a disturbing habit of inhaling anything and everything has starred in his own adventures, fought in Super Smash Bros., and even participated in some underrated spin-off games. It's hard to believe that this iconic gaming mascot almost never came to be, but when you understand Kirby's origin, such a fact makes sense. This is the story of how Kirby almost didn't become a video game character — and why he looks the way he does.

A design that just stuck

When Sakurai developed the game that would become Kirby's Dream Land, he worked in a strange order — he designed a game without a protagonist. In an effort to make something simple and accessible, he focused on a flying mechanic. He was then inspired to add an ability that allowed this hero to pull in enemies and steal their powers. This way, players would have an incentive to do more than just fly through each stage.

When it came to the hero itself, Sakurai "needed a dummy character." Without much thought, he drew a basic circular protagonist that lacked major defining characteristics. After presenting the game, this character was a big hit. Although his intention was not to make it the final design, the puffy circle impressed everyone enough that he decided to stick with it, thus cementing Kirby's look.

Because the Game Boy only offered black-and-white graphics, Kirby wasn't fully fleshed out yet — literally. Even though legendary Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto was pulling for a yellow Kirby, Sakurai pushed for pink. Next time you pick Kirby in Super Smash Bros., you might want to select his alternate yellow color to see him as Miyamoto imagined.