Copy Abilities (called special abilities, enemy's ability, or Special Powers) are powers that Kirby can gain in various ways during gameplay. They have appeared in all of his games since Kirby's Adventure (excluding most spin-offs). They have been a staple feature of the Kirby franchise ever since their introduction.
Kirby's usual method of obtaining these abilities is by inhaling various enemies or their weapon (in the case of Poppy Bros. Jr. and Sir Kibble) and copying their powers (hence the name, "Copy Ability"). However, Kirby has gained access to other sources for his Copy Abilities. In Kirby's Adventure, Meta Knight will give Kirby a sword. In some games, he can gain his abilities from a special kind of pedestal. In Kirby: Squeak Squad, he can store ability bubbles in his stomach. Also, in the Milky Way Wishes sub-game of Kirby Super Star and its remake, Kirby can obtain Copy Essences Deluxe, which function as Copy Abilities that cannot be lost. The drawback to this is that when Kirby swallows most enemies that give out abilities, he does not receive an ability from them.
List of Copy Abilities
|Main article: List of Copy Abilities|
The main way that Kirby gets his abilities are from inhale and swallowing certain enemies or their weapon. However, an ability won't necessarily have all the attacks that the enemy can perform. For instance, Bonkers (a mini-boss), can throw explosive coconuts, but the ability he grants, Hammer, doesn't allow Kirby to throw coconuts. Conversely, sometimes Kirby can do moves that the enemy cannot. Some enemies do not even yield powers.
|Main article: Mix|
Also showing a Copy Ability icon which differs in games. In some games, Kirby can get "gulp", "helper", and "ouch" (this causes Kirby to take damage).
Mid-bosses can't be inhaled until they have been defeated. After being defeated, they will lie on the ground for a few seconds before exploding. During this time, Kirby can inhale them and gain their abilities. With some Copy Abilities, such as Suplex, Backdrop, Hammer, Cook, Artist, Ghost, Smash, and Magic, there are no normal enemies to get the power from. Only mid-bosses carry such powers.
|Main article: Copy Essence|
Copy Essence Deluxe
|Main article: Copy Essence Deluxe|
|Main article: Ability bubble|
Losing Copy Abilities
Kirby can willingly drop an ability if he doesn't want it anymore. It will then become a yellow Ability Star, that will erratically bounce away from Kirby for some time until it disappears. If the Ability Star touches spikes, magma, or an electrified field from the environment, it will disappear. Also, if it touches water, it will sink and quickly break (though in Kirby & The Amazing Mirror and Kirby: Squeak Squad, ability stars are buoyant and appear to be waterproof). It will also disappear if it falls down a pit. In Kirby Super Star, Kirby can't willingly eject his ability into a star; he can only turn it into a Helper, or an ability item (though in the remake, he could do this in addition to willingly turning it into a star).
Also, if Kirby is hit by an enemy or an environmental hazard, the ability will automatically be turned into an Ability Star. In some games, this happens after Kirby takes one hit, but in most games, Kirby must be hit with multiple or very strong attacks. In Kirby: Squeak Squad, if Kirby ducks when being hit, the damage he takes won't be reduced but he will not lose his ability.
If Kirby gains another ability while his previous one is a bouncing star, it will quickly disappear.
Starting from Kirby's Return to Dream Land, every Ability Star has its own unique coloration and symbol on it, allowing the player to easily tell which ability is which. Kirby (or a teammate) can also carry the Ability Star is if it lands on top of him.
Kirby can inhale and swallow an Ability Star to regain its ability before it disappears. If it is a helper, Kirby must turn it into an ability item before regaining it.
All of these properties go to regular abilities. However, if Kirby drops or loses the Master or Triple Star, it will be discarded by bouncing away (though not in the form of a star), and will not disappear after any amount of time, by touching spikes/water/magma/electrified fields, or by getting a new ability, though it will still disappear if it falls down a pit and float to the surface of water.
Some abilities are exceptionally powerful, but Kirby loses them after using their ability once (except for Mike, which can be used three times).
In Kirby Super Star, Kirby can't create a helper with this type of ability. These abilities are the only Copy Abilities that can be obtained by swallowing enemies in the Milky Way Wishes sub-game, but, as a drawback, do not have a Deluxe version and are rarely seen (with the possible exception of Sleep). (Crash, however, can be seen as an exception as this can also be procured by using Copy on a Scarfy.)
In Kirby: Squeak Squad, the Magic ability's Ability Scroll move causes it to forfeit the ability, like in previous games. If that attack isn't used, the ability can be used like any other normal power.
In older games, Kirby would flash periodically whenever he had a limited-use ability (except Sleep); when using these abilities, however, he will usually have a hat of some sort: Paint Kirby wears a gray backwards cap, Mike Kirby will get a baseball cap (1st use), headphones (2nd use), or a mohawk (3rd use), Cook Kirby wears a toque, and Copy gives Kirby a visor over his eyes when used.
In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby can obtain special abilities called Super Abilities from special enemies. The abilities are Ultra Sword, Monster Flame, Snow Bowl, Flare Beam and Grand Hammer. Unlike other limited-use abilities, these abilities can be used indefinitely, but only within a small period of time. If the player decides to drop these abilities, they will disappear instantly, without a chance of being regained.
In Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby can obtain a powerful ability called Hypernova, which allows Kirby's signature inhale to increase exponentially. He can inhale huge objects that only Hypernova can move. Unlike most of the limited-use abilities, Hypernova can be used until Kirby exits the stage.
Some games have a special and usually powerful Copy Ability that serve as Final Weapons and can only be used against final bosses (however some abilities like Master or Triple Star can be used freely on any level after beating their respective games). These abilities, except Master and Rainbow Sword, are projectile shooters (although Master does have a ranged attack).
In Kirby Super Star (and Kirby Super Star Ultra), the Starship ability, however, is used before the final battle of Milky Way Wishes, to defeat Nova. The Starship also appears in Revenge of the King, again as an ability that isn't used for the final boss, to fight Kabula with. In Kirby's Epic Yarn, the Starship is used to defeat Kracko and attack Battleship Halberd.
Originally, a Copy Ability would give Kirby one move, with perhaps options for charging or aiming. In Kirby Super Star, however, many Copy Abilities allowed a wider arsenal of moves. In more recent games, such as Kirby: Squeak Squad, this was temporarily dropped, so some abilities, like Beam, retained the traditional one move per ability, while others, such as Fighter, still offer multiple moves to be performed.
In Kirby's Dream Land 2 and Kirby's Dream Land 3, there were less than ten abilities, each with one move only. However, there were also animal allies. Each ability had unique effects while Kirby was riding an ally. For instance, Burning normally makes Kirby zoom forward, surrounded by fire, but when Kirby is on Rick the Hamster, Rick breathes fire instead. In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby could mix six of the abilities from Kirby's Dream Land 2 (along with one ability introduced in Kirby Super Star) together to create ability combos.
In the Super Smash Bros. series
|Main article: Copy Abilities (Super Smash Bros. series)|
Originally, Kirby's appearance did not change when he had a Copy Ability (with the exception of UFO). In Kirby's Adventure, the only visible difference in Kirby's appearance would be that his skin tone changed to a peach shade, or a blue one if he has Ice or Freeze (though Kirby will remain pink with the Star Rod unless he is damaged). This change is obviously not observed in Game Boy titles. Interestingly, Kirby remains pink while having an ability in Kirby's Dream Course.
Kirby Super Star introduced the concept of unique appearances for each ability. Each ability (excluding limited-use abilities) would give Kirby an ability cap to wear, with the exception of Parasol and Hammer (though the latter was eventually given a twisted headband). Unlike later games, Kirby's skin tone occasionally changes depending on which ability he has, such as red for Fire. This was retained in the remake and the series' anime. Interestingly, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land had a similar case, as hats were added but some abilities had certain color changes.
In Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Copy Abilities did not receive hats or color changes (with the possible exception of Ice, which only changes Kirby to blue while he's performing the move). However, ability caps became a series staple soon afterwards. In all original games since, abilities do not change Kirby's skin color from pink (except Metal and Ghost). This may be because of the Spray Paint feature implemented in Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, or to make multiplayer less confusing. The only game to not include hats alongside Copy Abilities since then would be Kirby: Canvas Curse, which had unconventional gameplay.
In the Super Smash Bros. series, Kirby will usually get hats depending on what character he swallows. For example, when Kirby swallows Mario, he gains the same red cap that Mario wears. However, some characters change the appearance of Kirby's whole body. As an example of this, swallowing Mr. Game & Watch will transform Kirby into a pitch-black LCD version of himself, while Mewtwo will alter the shape of Kirby's body to make it resemble the horns on its head.
Meta Knight is a recurring character in the Kirby games, appearing as both an ally and an enemy to Kirby. Due to his chivalrous nature, he nearly always offers a sword for Kirby to pick up before they battle. King Dedede mimics this in the Kirby Super Star Ultra sub-game Revenge of the King, except he offers Kirby a hammer rather than a sword.
|“||Here's Kirby sporting several results of his Copy ability. In Link's hat he can shoot arrows, while Mario's cap gives him access to Fireballs. The Donkey Kong suit offers up a Giant Punch, while Samus's helmet allows Kirby to fire off charged-up energy shots. Finally, while wearing the Yoshi hat, Kirby can swallow enemies and turn them into eggs.”|
|— Kirby Hat 1's trophy description • Super Smash Bros. Melee|
|“||Kirby's got several of his finest hats on here. In Ness's baseball cap, he can use the power of PSI to unleash PK Flash, while Captain Falcon's visor gives him the ability to unleash a huge punch. His adorable Pikachu cap comes complete with stored-up electric charges, allowing him to shock his foes, and the Fox ears come with a matching blaster.”|
|— Kirby Hat 2's trophy description • Super Smash Bros. Melee|
|“||With all of these hats, Kirby could open his own haberdashery! Peach's crown lets him use Toad, while the Ice Climber parka allows him to shoot ice blocks. Kirby has Fire Breath in the Bowser horns, and he can copy Zelda in both her forms. In Zelda's headdress he can use Nayru's Love, while Sheik's wrap gives him a needle arsenal.”|
|— Kirby Hat 3's trophy description • Super Smash Bros. Melee|
|“||Looks like Kirby's copied a bunch of hidden characters! In Luigi's hat, he can shoot green Fireballs, while copying Mewtwo gives him the power to throw Shadow Balls. Copying Mr. Game & Watch lets Kirby hurl sausages, and doing the same to Jigglypuff earns him a Rollout move. Marth's hair comes complete with a powerful Shield Breaker move.”|
|— Kirby Hat 4's trophy description • Super Smash Bros. Melee|
|“||Secret hats galore! In Pichu's hat Kirby can shoot out electricity, while Dr. Mario's headgear gives him Megavitamins. When Kirby wears Falco's beak, he gets to use Falco's powerful Blaster; by the same token, he can fire arrows when in Young Link's cap. When Kirby copies Ganondorf he gets the Warlock Punch, and copying Roy produces a Flare Blade.”|
|— Kirby Hat 5's trophy description • Super Smash Bros. Melee|
|“||That is Kirby's Copy Ability. After inhaling an attack, Kirby can transform himself. Kirby has now become... Fire Kirby.”|
|— Meta Knight after Kirby reveals his Copy Ability by transforming into Fire Kirby for the first time • Kirby Comes to Cappy Town|
|“||Kirby can steal a copy ability from another Kirby who's already copied someone else's ability. Confused yet?”|
|— Tips • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U|
|“||Taunt to discard your current Copy Ability. Find the most opportune moment to change your ability!”|
|— Tips • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U|
|“||Kirby hasn't always been able to copy the abilities of the enemies he inhaled. That power debuted in his second title, Kirby's Adventure.”|
|— Tips • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U|
|“||Inhale an enemy with an ability and then swallow it with ↓ to get that Copy Ability.”|
|— Inhale enemies for abilities! • Kirby Star Allies loading screen|
|“||You can drop a Copy Ability by pressing and holding Y or pressing -.”|
|— How to drop a Copy Ability: • Kirby Star Allies loading screen|
- Hiroaki Suga, the main leader and programmer of Kirby's Adventure, expressed concern when confronted with the idea of creating 24 individual Copy Abilities. The work required to accomplish them all would roughly equal the amount needed to make several NES/Famicom games.
- There have been several unofficial Copy Abilities created by Nintendo and their collaborators. They have not appeared in any game, novel, or manga.
- In a 2014 Japanese commercial promoting the New Nintendo 3DS, Kirby inhales star dust off of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and copies her appearance. He gains a wand topped with a heart and uses it to transform Kyary's outfit.
- In a 2018 video discussing Joker's reveal in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Masahiro Sakurai drew a sketch of a Morgana Copy Ability..
- ÆON, the world's largest Asian retailer, held a limited promotion called the TRY! KIRBY! SPORTS FESTIVAL, which sold Kirby products with a sporting theme. Artwork was produced showcasing Kirby playing various sports, four of which are accompanied by Ability Hats: a cheerleading ability, swimming ability, tennis ability, and baseball ability.
- Kirby Star Allies is currently the game containing the largest number of playable abilities, with 28. Kirby's Block Ball is the game containing the smallest number of abilities, with four.
- In the past 20 years, Kirby: Triple Deluxe has been the game containing the largest selection of new abilities, with five. Kirby: Canvas Curse has been the game containing the smallest selection of new abilities, with only one.