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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Weird Rulership Situations In Gaming: Part 1

There are lots of strange leadership situations in gaming. We're talking ineffectual kings, worthless princesses, and "captains" who can't actually lead anything. Today, we're going to highlight one of my favorites: King DeDeDe from the Kirby series.

Let's do a quick recap of what King DeDeDe has accomplished during his tenure as monarch over Dream Land. In Kirby's Dream Land, he attempted to steal all the food from the kingdom, only to get defeated by the hero of the land, Kirby. You would think that he would have been permanently removed from office after such a disgrace, but maybe there's a really strong base for him in the Dream Land House of Lords, or they just haven't signed a Magna Carta there.

After this a pattern starts. In Kirby's Adventure, Kirby beats the crap out of the king again, only to find that he was actually protecting the country by turning off the Fountain of Dreams. This shows that he is a poor delegator. I mean, don't you think you would tell the person who seems to have a vendetta against you what you're planning on doing before getting the crap kicked out of you again?

This is a recurring theme afterwards: It's repeated in Kirby's Dream Land 2 and 3. DeDeDe has a hare-brained scheme to save the land, but he doesn't tell anyone. This leaves the confused populace to fend for themselves and the country devolves into a bloody battlefield. Kirby is constantly getting attacked by otherwise friendly countrymen who apparently swear loyalty to the king. It's possible that DeDeDe has great approval ratings.

However, even if his consituents love him, as the picture below would seem to indicate, that only makes things worse. Then, Kirby isn't quite the hero he's made out to be. Here's something to make you think: Maybe the people of Dream Land truly know the King's intentions. Maybe Kirby is instead the last one to know, so he's a murderer instead, responsible for the needless deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of Dream Land residents. In other words, when you play Kirby games, you're playing the story of a misguided, murderous monster who kills rather than ask questions.

In fact, the situation has gotten so bad that in Kirby: Squeak Squad, Kirby isn't really justified in anything he does. Here's the plot: He's sitting down to eat some cake, and then someone who is shaped like a rat steals the cake. Instead of chasing after someone who is clearly a rat, he goes and beats up King DeDeDe. Again. Once again, how is this helping? How are you restoring faith in the monarchy when every time something goes wrong, you march straight into the palace, slaughter the guards, and humiliate the king?

How did it get to this point? Much of the blame can be laid at the feet of DeDeDe. He was the one who started this mess back in Kirby's Dream Land. Naturally, once someone tries to steal all of the food in the country, it's assumed that they're a bad guy. But this has now gone beyond mere distrust. This is now a personal vendetta, and one that needs drastic action. We're talking out-and-out treason against the crown, which should not stand.

Apparently, the lines of communication have not been open to this live wire, loose cannon named Kirby. I can imagine his trepidation over opening a dialogue, considering that Kirby seems to kill anyone associated with the King. But wouldn't you at least try, considering the untold damage that's he done?

All of this makes me think that underneath the surface of the happy-go-lucky Kirby series lies a deep well of resentment and hatred that is bound to burst forth one day in a new, gritty reboot, one in which the very fabric of Dream Land is being rent asunder by warring factions. Lives will be lost. Kingdoms will fall. Fruit will be eaten.