Kirby's Dream Land 3 artwork
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Dark Matter (referred to as !? in Kirby's Dream Land 2's bad ending) 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 a powerful one in particular is shown to have a ring of smaller orange (originally purple) spheres. Dark Matter can possess someone to achieve their own purposes, and King Dedede almost always ends up being the victim.
Dark Matter was originally considered a single character; however, the term "Dark Matter" does not necessarily refer to the individual, but rather any of a number of related shadowy cloud figures. These sentient orbs can unite as one force which can envelop entire planets, as shown during their attack on Ripple Star. They appear to be a race capable of independent thought - Gooey is mentioned to be "made from the same stuff as Dark Matter", suggesting he is a docile individual who rebelled (which was confirmed in the Japanese-exclusive 20th Anniversary Hoshi no Kirby Pupupu Taizen). Some generic enemies (such as Nidoo, Mariel and N-Z) also appear to be Dark Matter-like and may be related.
The Dark Matter made its last major appearance in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, where the race invaded Ripple Star, shattered its Crystal while Ribbon was fleeing, and search the surrounding for its pieces. The Dark Matter cloud that possessed the Queen Fairy formed Dark Star, with 0² at its core. The mass of Dark Matter was destroyed once Kirby and Ribbon defeated 0². However, Dark Matter has made at least one confirmed final boss appearance since that event.
The Dark Matter race first terrorized Popstar in Kirby's Dream Land 2, Real Dark Matter (a lone entity at this point) steals the rainbow bridges that connect the 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 Real Dark Matter is to collect all of the Rainbow Drops and defeat King Dedede, who has fallen into an unnatural sleep, likely a result of his possession. Once this is completed, the Rainbow Drops form the Rainbow Sword. Real Dark Matter leaves Dedede's body and flies high into the sky, and Kirby uses the Rainbow Sword to pursue it.
Real 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 Real Dark Matter with the Rainbow Sword itself, to significantly deplete its health Kirby must slice Real Dark Matter's energy orbs back at it. When defeated, Real 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 Real 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 Real 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, Real 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 towers over Planet Popstar, and its reaches possess King Dedede as well as Whispy Woods, Acro, Pon & Con and Ado in the far reaches 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, where Real Dark Matter will re-form and attack. Real 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, Real 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 Real Dark Matter, it is once again banished and Kirby comes face to face with Zero, a force much greater than it. During the battle, miniature Dark Matter-lookalike projectiles are spawned from its eye - the first implication of the presence of more Dark Matter aliens, and possibly the true nature of the hostile cloud. After Kirby defeats Zero's eye, the threat is ended and everything returns to normal. The Love-Love Stick emits a light which eradicates the alien cloud, and Kirby flies home with Gooey.Ripple Star and its population. Ribbon flies away on the Crystal, which seems to be the only thing that can purge a Dark Matter from a victim without seriously harming the host in the process. Three Dark Matter follow her and shatter the crystal, the pieces of which fall across several different planets across the galaxy. Three Dark Matter (perhaps the ones that shattered the Crystal) each possess a Waddle Dee (accidentally 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, the original Dark Matter from previous games will appear as one of the artist's paintings. She uses the attacks from Kirby's Dream Land 3 and is easily beatable.
The gang eventually reform the Crystal by defeating Miracle Matter, another being of Dark 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 split second), however, and the powerful Dark Matter escapes to form Dark Star. Kirby travels to the core and encounters 0².
Once Kirby and Ribbon defeat 0², 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 a member of the Dark Matter in the 20th Anniversary Hoshi no Kirby Pupupu Taizen. Real Dark Matter in its first form also makes a cameo along with other main antagonists in an unlockable picture.
Years later, Real 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.
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 him 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.
- In Japanese supplemental materials, its second form in Kirby's Dream Land 2 is known as Real Dark Matter (リアルダークマター). While the name is only known to have been used in official capacity when referring to this particular appearance, the name "Real Dark Matter" is sometimes used to differentiate the recurring boss character from the members of its species.
- In addition, the Japanese Hoshi no Kābī Tsū player's guide 「最新星のカービィ大百科」 states that Dark Matter from that game targeted Popstar because it grew jealous of Dream Land's lifestyle and it was lonely due to the fact no one wanted to be its friend. This, along with the unusual attack style of this particular Dark Matter, suggests that the original Dark Matter might be a distinct villain in its own right rather than a simple pawn of Zero (who has no real backstory). The fact that Dark Matter comes out of King Dedede with a shape similar to the head of its swordsman form rather than as a simple gaseous cloud like the Dark Matter seen later supports this hypothesis.[hide]Title (JP) 星のカービィ2
- 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, they would only possess others to combat Kirby or fight in their natural state.
- In Kirby's Dream Land 3, the intro video shows Dark Matter breaking through Popstar's rings to get to the surface. When Kirby defeats Zero, the Dark Matter cloud explodes in the colors of Popstar's rings (Blue, Yellow, and Red), presumably firing them back into Popstar's atmosphere.
- Before Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the term "Dark Matter" applied to a single character - even in the instruction manual of Kirby's Dream Land 3, it is only mentioned when describing Gooey. It is only during the final boss battle and its next appearance is it apparent that there are multiple Dark Matter.
- 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 in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, however, do not have orange circles and appear more like a fuzzy cloud than a solid sphere. Their eyes 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 version seen in previous games, though it is also likely to have been due to the difficulties of making 3D models of the original design.
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is the only game the Dark Matter appears in which a pure, basic being does not directly fight Kirby.
- 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).
- While Dark Matter seems to have been obliterated in the good ending of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, there are many speculations about potential Dark Matter beings in other games afterwards, such as in the Mirror World (Dark Mind, Shadow Dedede, maybe Dark Meta Knight), Dark Nebula, and Magolor.