In the series, Meta Knight is a mysterious nature knight; this has led to him playing more of a "friend or foe" role and less of an actual playable character throughout the Kirby series. Meta Knight received mostly very positive critical reception since his introduction, being described as a "cool" character and called a "badass"; he became a popular character among fans, and a reviewer also noted him as more popular than the series' primary antagonist King Dedede.
Creation and Characteristics
Meta Knight is an honorable swordsman that follows the chivalric code, Meta Knight's trophy description in Super Smash Bros. Melee. An example of this is to give Kirby a sword to fight with. He always wears a white-silver mask, and under it, he looks almost exactly like Kirby, though with a blue body (black in his first appearance) and yellow eyes. He wears a navy blue mantle, The Dimensional Cape, that can transform into a set of bat-like wings (but in Kirby's Return to Dream Land the wings grow directly from his body), and he usually wields a golden sword called the Galaxia Sword (though he gave the "Master Sword" in Kirby & the Amazing Mirror). He is usually described as the Kirby's rival, and as an antihero. Despite of being the "bad guy", he has benign aims, and Meta Knight also fights alongside Kirby if it is necessary to face a greater evil. Because of this attitude he plays a "friend or foe" role.
Powers and Abilities
A gifted warrior, Meta Knight is an expert swordsman, who is able to fight and give Kirby (assuming if he has the Sword Ability) a hard time. His blade is said to be very powerful, as he is able to generate electricity, whip up tornadoes, and can shoot sword beam attacks. Whenever he is playable in some of the games, his attacks deal a lot more damage than Kirby's.
He also has a legion of followers, such as the other trained knights and has his own personal platoon. Many characters (including his own soldiers) respect his strength, although some villains wish to covet his power for their own purposes.
His Dimension Cape cape can manipulate space and can transform into wings, allowing flight and when airborne, he moves in an aerodynamic fashion. It also has the power of teleportation, as seen when he is defeated, he will cover himself up before jumping away off-screen.
In Kirby video game series
Meta Knight first appeared in the NES game Kirby's Adventure (1993) as the boss of the Orange Ocean level, where he fights Kirby to keep him from taking a piece of the Star Rod to keep it out of Nightmare's hands. He is the main antagonist of the Revenge of Meta Knight mode in Kirby Super Star (1996), in which he attempts to take over Dream Land in order to put an end to the inhabitants' lazy lifestyle. Meta Knight is a playable character in special mode Meta Knightmare of Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (2002). In Kirby & the Amazing Mirror (2004), Meta Knight split Kirby into four identical Kirbys of different colors by shattering a special mirror. He appears as a boss who works to keep the chest containing Dark Nebula out of Kirby's hands in Kirby: Squeak Squad (2006). In Kirby Super Star Ultra (2008), he appears as playable character in Meta Knightmare Ultra. Meta Knight also appears in Kirby's Return to Dream Land (2011) as one of the main protagonists along with Kirby, King Dedede, and Waddle Dee, and as playable character in multi-player mode.
Meta Knight also appears in several non-canonical games in the series. He makes brief appearances in Kirby's Pinball Land and Kirby's Avalanche (both from 1993); in this last game his name is first revealed, and he acts as the penultimate challenger. He is an unlockable character in Kirby Air Ride (2003) and Kirby: Canvas Curse (2005). Meta Knight is a boss in Kirby's Epic Yarn (2010) and Kirby Mass Attack (2011).
Meta Knight is featured in the 1994-2006 manga Kirby of the Stars: The Story of Dedede Who Lives In Pupupu written by Hirokazu Hikawa and published by Shogakukan in CoroCoro Comic, Bessatsu CoroCoro Comic, Shōgakukan no Gakunen Betsu Gakushū Zasshi and Televi-Kun. He also appears in the ongoing Noboru Matsuyama Hoshi no Kirby: Kirby to Dedede no Pupupu Nikki, originally a Famitsu DS+Cube+Advance (a suupplement of Famitsu DS+Wii) manga that later moved to Terebi Gemu Magazin; and in Asami Taniguchi manga Hoshi no Kirby: Moretsu Pupupuawā!, where he is a main character, that currently runs in Bessatsu CoroCoro Comic.
In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, he is a main character. In the series, he is the last surviving member of the Galaxy Soldier Army, made up of "Star Warriors", of which Kirby is one. They are basically warriors who rebelled against Nightmare. He works for Dedede in order to help Kirby and keep watch over the activities of Nightmare Enterprises.
Meta Knight appears in three Super Smash Bros. series games: in Melee he features as a trophy, and in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, he is a playable character.
IGN described him as "one of the most enigmatic characters in the Kirby series", and also named him one of their ten favorite sword wielding characters in the video games, adding he was once "a mere villain in the Kirby series", however "his devilishly cool appearance set him apart from the rest". As IGN, ScrewAttack also listed Meta Knight as one of best swordsmen in video games, placing he tenth on their Top 10, and describrig he as "the ultra-badass version of sword Kirby". They also ranked the battle against him as the eleventh on their list of "Top 25 Favorite Boss Battles". GamesRadar ranked Meta Knight as twelfth most misunderstood videogame villains, saying he is "the standard good-guy folderol..., except that Meta Knight is invariably the bad guy", and said Meta Knight versus Kirby "it's like if Batman picked a fight with a morbidly obese shut-in, and you were supposed to root for the shut-in." They also listed him on "The Top 7 Unlikeliest badasses in gaming", saying he shouldn't be a badass as "he's a little blue ball with stubby cartoon feet", but adding "never before has being round and adorable been so d*** awe-inspiring".
He is the 18th best Nintendo character of all time according to GameDaily, that also placed him third in a list about Nintendo characters that deserve their own games. Sharing this feeling, Complex ranked Meta Knight eight on its list of "25 Video Game Characters That Deserve a Spinoff", adding he developed from "a nameless villain" in Kirby's Adventure into "Kirby's rival", and noted that his popularity has surpassed King Dedede. His inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Brawl was praised: he was listed in the top 5 five characters of Bozon (ranked second), Peer (ranked fourth), and Richard George (ranked first) from IGN, with the three highlighting his speed, and Bozon saying he is "the best single-player Brawler"; Jesse Schedeen also from IGN, remarked that "Meta Knight is a true powerhouse of the SSBB cast"; and UGO Networks said Meta Knight is "[t]he most dangerous sword-wielding, helmet-wearing, sentient balloon you're ever likely to meet." In other hand, the balance among the Brawl characters was impaired, with Meta Knight "standing tall above the rest". Due to this, the character was removed from professional gaming competitions.