Dark Matter (referred to as !? in Kirby's Dream Land 2's bad ending) and related characters are major villains in Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Dark Matter typically takes the form of a shadowy sphere with a single eye in the middle, and is usually shown to have a ring of smaller orange (originally purple) spheres. Dark Matter can possess someone to achieve its own purposes, and King Dedede almost always ends up being the victim.
Dark Matter is often depicted as a single entity, but has later shown to have the capability of splitting into smaller, seemingly sentient black orbs; thus, the term "Dark Matter" may not necessarily refer to an individual, but rather any number of alike shadowy cloud figures. In the Kirby's Dream Land 3 instruction booklet, Gooey is mentioned to be "made from the same stuff as Dark Matter", which is suggested in the Japanese exclusive 20th Anniversary Hoshi no Kirby Pupupu Taizen to mean that he was a docile member of its species who rebelled (this source also considers Dark Matter to be the name of a race consisting of 0, 02, and even Dark Nebula). Some generic enemies (such as Nidoo, Mariel and N-Z) also appear Dark Matter-like and may have similar origins, but these similarities do not confirm the suggested relation.
Dark Matter made its last major appearance in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Since then, it has made at least one confirmed appearance as a final boss.
Dark Matter first terrorized Planet Popstar in Kirby's Dream Land 2 by stealing the Rainbow Bridges that connect the Rainbow Islands of Dream Land. Taking control of King Dedede, the sinister being hid itself away in Dark Castle, plotting a future of darkness for Dream Land. The only way Kirby can fight Dark Matter is to collect all of the Rainbow Drops and defeat King Dedede, who has fallen into an unnatural sleep. Once this is completed, the Rainbow Drops form the Rainbow Sword. Dark Matter leaves Dedede's body and flies high into the sky, and Kirby uses the Rainbow Sword to pursue it.
Dark Matter first confronts Kirby as a swordsman-like being. It attacks by dashing forward trying to stab Kirby, firing energy beams from its sword, and by kindling and launching dark energy orbs. Although Kirby can deal minor damage to Dark Matter by slicing its body with the Rainbow Sword itself, Kirby can also significantly deplete its health by reflecting the energy orbs back at it. When defeated, Dark Matter turns into its true form, and Kirby must fight it again while slowly sinking earthward. This time it attacks in a pattern, first releasing four of its purple orbs at Kirby twice in a row, then shooting dark beams in a circular motion twice more, then launching itself forward three times, and finally shooting two thunderbolts from its eye three times. To ultimately defeat Dark Matter, Kirby has to repeatedly slash its spherical linings back at it during its first attack, similar to the swordsman battle, and then damage it directly during the rest of its attacks. If Dark Matter is not dispatched quickly enough, Kirby will reenter the atmosphere and begin taking a single point of damage at regular intervals, eventually resulting in a life lost similar to the battle with Nightmare's orb form in Kirby's Adventure and its remake.
After its defeat, Dark Matter was obliterated. Kirby's animal friends and even an awakened King Dedede celebrated as their benefactor rode his Rainbow Sword through the air. With one last wave of the sword, Kirby restored the islands' rainbows and reversed Dark Matter's plans.
In Kirby's Dream Land 3, a mysterious giant cloud breaks through the rings of Planet Popstar to get to the surface, and its long reaches possess King Dedede as well as Whispy Woods, Acro, Pon & Con and Ado in the far corners of the land. Dedede is once again bound to an unnatural sleep. Obtaining all the Heart Stars of an area will relieve that level's boss of possession upon defeat. If Kirby collects all the Heart Stars and saves all the boss characters, he will use the Love-Love Stick to reach the black cloud (optionally accompanied with Gooey), where Dark Matter will re-form and attack. Dark Matter retains its orb attack, which is modified to have the orange orbs home in on Kirby (though the hero can destroy them with the Love-Love Stick). Like the previous encounter, Dark Matter can also blast black lightning out of its eye — it will shoot a bolt of lightning in one direction, then another, then a third, and finally a fourth.
After defeating Dark Matter, it is once again banished and Kirby comes face to face with 0, a force much greater than it. During the battle, miniature Dark Matter-lookalikes are spawned from its eye as projectiles, implying the nature of the hostile creature as a higher presence. After Kirby defeats 0's eye, the threat ends and everything returns to normal as the Love-Love Stick emits a light which eradicates the alien cloud. It explodes with blue, yellow and red streaks, presumably shooting into the atmosphere and forming as the planet's new rings.Ripple Star, invading it and its population. Knowing that there would be a danger should Dark Matter claim the planet's Crystal, Ribbon flies away on it. This catches the interest of Dark Matter, which splits into three smaller cloudy orbs that follow her and shatter the Crystal, the pieces of which fall across several different planets across the galaxy. Three dark orbs (perhaps the ones that shattered the Crystal) each investigate the immediate crash site of the fallen fairy (Planet Popstar) and possess a Waddle Dee (turning it into a Waddle Doo), a painter named Adeleine, and King Dedede because they each find a Crystal shard (and join Kirby afterward). During the battle against Adeleine, a representation of the original Dark Matter from previous games will appear as one of the artist's paintings. She uses similar attacks as Ado from Kirby's Dream Land 3 and is easily beatable.
The gang eventually reform the Crystal by defeating Miracle Matter. The cloud of darkness is lifted off Ripple Star and their adventure is seemingly over. However, the Crystal apparently still senses the power of Dark Matter nearby, and it reacts by shooting a blast of light at the Queen Fairy (which only occurs when all the shards have been collected). It is revealed that she was possessed all along (which can be deciphered somewhat during the normal ending, in which she gives the player an evil smirk for a short moment), however, and the remaining energy of Dark Matter escapes to amass a gargantuan sphere known as the Dark Star. Kirby travels to the core with his friends and encounters 02. Once it is defeated, the Dark Star threat is destroyed.
While Dark Matter does not return as a primary antagonist, the game revolves around a mysterious treasure chest that was originally in King Dedede's possession. Kirby believes it is his Strawberry Shortcake stolen by the Squeaks, so he chases it throughout most of his journey. After defeating the defense presented by Daroach and Meta Knight, the contents of the chest are unsealed and possess the leader of the Squeaks, becoming Dark Daroach and escaping into Gamble Galaxy. After Kirby defeats Dark Daroach, the villain takes the form of a small star-shaped object and flees Kirby until it is cornered and shows its true form - Dark Nebula. While this is not stated in the game itself, Dark Nebula is suggested to be associated with Dark Matter in the 20th Anniversary Hoshi no Kirby Pupupu Taizen. Dark Matter in its first form from Kirby's Dream Land 2 also makes a cameo along with other main antagonists in an unlockable picture.
Years later, Dark Matter would suddenly appear in Kirby Mass Attack (albeit not in the story mode). It is the final boss of the Kirby Quest mode, and has two forms based on its initial appearance from Kirby's Dream Land 2. The designs have been updated slightly to be larger and more intimidating than ever. If Kirby picked up Galaxia, it is super effective to both forms in reference to its original weakness to the Rainbow Sword.
While Dark Matter does not make a personal appearance, its swordsman form from Kirby's Dream Land 2 and its sprite from Kirby's Dream Land 3 are still present as rare keychains for the player to unlock.
The real Dark Matter does not appear in the game, however, a clone created by the Star Dream appears to do battle against Meta Knight to grant his wish. The clone takes the appearance of the swordsman form from Kirby's Dream Land 2; due to Star Dream's inability to analyze the other more alien forms, its true form only appears inside Dark Matter's cloak and the last moment of its demise. He will initially fight like in his first form of the original fight, staying at a side of the arena, shooting dark energy at his opponent. Soon, he will move on to leaving to the background to fire larger energy balls, which can be launched back at him. He will occasionally also dive into the screen with a multi-slash attack. Interestingly, some of Dark Matter's attacks change the color of his sword to a multi-colored rainbow, implying that the clone of Dark Matter is also wielding a copy of the Rainbow Sword.
Interestingly, this fight reveals that the Rainbow Sword is not the only weapon capable of deflecting back the dark energy balls he fires.
Dark Matter appears in the Kirby of the Stars pilot as one of the enemies created out of the plumes of smokes when the sky went dark. It looks like the form Kirby fights in Kirby's Dream Land 3. Kirby freezes it with the Ice ability after he inhales the Ice Dragon.
Dark Matter is drawn in Paint Panic in Kirby: Canvas Curse. Dark Matter's swordsman form from Kirby's Dream Land 2 also appears in a collectible painting depicting various Kirby villains in Kirby: Squeak Squad. It is also one of the cards in Kirby Super Star Ultra's Card Swipe sub-game, again in its swordsman form.
|“||Creating this dark swordsman pushed Star Dream to the limits of its abilities. The cloning process was a success, but only a partial data analysis was possible, and its true form has not yet emerged.”|
|— Vs. Dark Matter Clone • Kirby: Planet Robobot|
- The Japanese Hoshi no Kābī Tsū player's guide 「最新星のカービィ大百科」 states that Dark Matter targeted Planet Popstar because it grew jealous of Dream Land's lifestyle and suffered from loneliness due to the fact no one wanted to be its friend.
- In addition, it refers to the second form in Kirby's Dream Land 2 as Real Dark Matter (リアルダークマター).
- The swordsman form of Dark Matter has a laser attack with the same sound as Laser Ball from Kirby's Adventure.
- Dark Matter appears capable of altering its form so it is suited to whatever task it must carry out. This is first seen when Kirby first confronts Dark Matter in Kirby's Dream Land 2, where it assumed the form of a masked swordsman, presumably to combat against the overwhelming strength of the Rainbow Sword. In subsequent appearances except Kirby Mass Attack and cameos of the swordsman form, it would only possess others to combat Kirby or fight in its natural state.
- In Kirby's Dream Land 3, Dark Matter was a simple circle with a white eye with a red iris and pupil, and orange circles lining it. The Dark Matter orbs in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, however, do not have orange circles and appear more like a fuzzy cloud than a solid sphere. The eye is still white with a red iris, but with a black pupil and orange spike-like marks extending from the iris, making for a more frightening appearance. It is possible that the reason for this redesign was to separate it from the more singular incarnation seen in previous games, though it is also likely to have been due to the difficulties of making 3D models of the original design.
- Despite being its last major appearance so far, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is the only game in which Dark Matter, as a main villain, does not directly fight Kirby.
- Dark Mind's second and final forms resemble Dark Matter.
- Also, for a split second during its transformation (and during its attacks) in Kirby Mass Attack, its orbs are purple like its debut appearance, and this is one of only two games (the other being Kirby: Squeak Squad) where Dark Matter (as a final boss) can be attacked without using a final weapon (excluding Miracle Matter, who is not a final boss per se).
- Despite its dominantly masculine appearance of its swordsman form, Dark Matter's gender has not been specified, meaning that it likely does not have a gender.
- Concept artwork seems to suggest that Dark Matter's true form was considered as a playable character in Kirby: Canvas Curse.
- The theme that plays during the battle against the clone of Dark Matter in Kirby: Planet Robobot is a techno remix of the theme of its second form in Kirby's Dream Land 2, followed by a remix of the theme for the swordsman form.
- The Dark Matter Clone in Kirby: Planet Robobot can turn his sword into something similar to the Rainbow Sword to attack. This is ironic, as the Rainbow Sword is the original Dark Matter's weakness.
- The cutscene before the battle against Dark Matter Clone is also called "The Dark Rainbow Thief."
- Dark Matter Swordsman's music is called "Duel In A Darkened Sky".
- In Kirby: Planet Robobot Dark Matter Clone is referred to as Dark Matter Blade in the True Arena's rest area. In Japanese, both his name in battle and in the rest area is クローン剣士ダークマター, meaning Clone Swordsman Dark Matter.
- Additionally, in the PAL version, his name remains "Dark Matter Clone" both in battle and in the True Arena's rest area.
Dark Matter's concept artwork