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I am a person that avoids autodescription.

Okay, but really. I've been doing sprite comics for a long while, ever since NSider was a thing - and certainly since well before I realized I was a trans lesbian. Probably leaves me as one of the oldest people here still doing sprite comics, but I've got setups that I have to see through to the end.

I like Mario, Pokemon, Kirby, Rhythm Heaven, and incredibly silly/convoluted references to past works.
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At least one of these points is actually true. Maybe more! Maybe even all of them! Except not all of them, actually.

So, uh. I was supposed to be working on remake pages and instead I've done... well, not nothing at all, but most of what I've done in the past few months has been unrelated to this and a liiittle secret for now.

Meanwhile, I had like ten different ideas for today's joke and fumbled around with them until I ran out of time and made this low-effort thingy.

As usual, this page is eventually getting deleted (and reuploaded to CDGEM), so don't get attached to any comments here.
Oh yeah, Youtube annotations were a thing back then.
This canvas ain't big enough for two of us!
@Keitoded: Fun fact: they're not custom. They're taken directly from Kirby's Super Star Stacker (that game that had Gryll in it), and the artstyle just happened to match up well enough for me to use them directly.
And here we are, the very last page of this arc. Finally.

So, for the record, here's the reference for panel 11.

Now, you're probably wondering what's next! And the answer is... not the next story arc! I'm officially putting that on pause so that I can get back to the remakes of the first arc, since I've fallen waaaaay behind on that. I've had half of Castle Not-Named-Lololo-Once-I-Properly-Retcon-It done for well over a year but I didn't want to release them because I haven't finished that level and it's a weird spot anyway.

Once I get that cleared away and actually DO start working on the next arc (to be titled "Revengeance"), there miiiight be a few tweaks here and there. I've been using almost entirely MS Paint for the entirety of this comic's run, with only minor help from GIMP and Inkscape, and I want to change that to make working on these less of a chore and so that I can better work around blocking issues. I even have a new laptop as of this Christmas, so maybe that'll be a useful vehicle for a fresh formatting start?

One last note: I've actually kept an uncensored record of nearly every comic where Pitch has dialogue. I've been considering making them publicly available for a while now, especially given the occasional times where I've barred a non-swear word for a gag. Similarly, I might also release the transcription of the scripts I've been saving somewhere - again, uncensored, and even different than final dialogue in places. Stay tuned, I guess?
@Keitoded: Technically, Epsilon would've been "The Darkness", but clearly whoever wrote that whole thing down didn't plan on this turn of events.
Hey, remember when I said I came up with the idea of Zero/Epsilon turning good about four years ago? Them being essentially reborn as a puffball was part of that plan!

That part was originally intended to be about at the end of the comic, though.

I changed it because really, having Epsilon around seems like it'll be more effective at shaking up the dynamic, changing things up, all that. I haven't fuuuully planned out the effects yet, but there's some stuff I have mapped out!

Also, yeah, Paula drops a tidbit about where Popopo come from here. I've been tossing around that subject for another Errata page for a while now, and while I never got around to it, consider it addressed.

Now, I don't have a big end-of-arc summary since, honestly, most of the stuff I could say has already been spread across all my other author commentaries. Also the fact that, remember, this isn't the last page of this arc! The Q&A after that will be.

Which reminds me, it's the 22nd now, so I'm officially no longer taking questions for said Q&A. (And I'll edit the newpost itself to reflect that whenever I wake up.) Expect the resulting final page before 2019.
To clarify - "Zero" here more refers to the unholy Epsilon + Dark Swordsmith fusion on display than denying Epsilon their new chosen name.

Maaaan staging this stuff gets complicated. And then suffers a bit from the fact that Zero takes up so much panel space.
Remember how I said these ideas I came up with like four years ago? I was still in college at that point, and I just happened to draw from one of my classes on differential equations or whatever as inspiration to use the new name "Epsilon". It also works because... well...

Ɛ > 0 < 3
This has been planned for four years.

Like, this decision was entirely independent of certain other Kirby comics having wacky not-evil Dark Matter around, and it deeeefinitely predated the likes of Star Allies and... theories surrounding its lore. (Though I do find that level of coincidence funny.)

So, what DID inspire this decision. Ultimately, I'd trace it back to a particular scathing review of this very comic done by one Ultizeta. (Link here, though I don't think he's particularly proud of his style at that time so I dunno how he'd feel about it today.) I took away plenty from that critique, such as cutting down on reference jokes and ditching the whole visible HUD for bosses thing - and heck, that's why I'm doing the remakes of the first arc YES THOSE ARE STILL HAPPENING. One particular point I noticed, though, was Ulti saying that I was adhering too closely to the actual games' structures.

So I decided to put a swerve in the overall narrative so extreme that future arcs would have no choice to be significantly different. And what could be more extreme than turning Zero away from evil?

Now, I initially planned this in the hopes that I could ask for a re-review once I got to this point, and have Ultizeta see the big changes. Of course, he's not even doing those reviews anymore, but even if he was, it was still a really petty initial reason on my part. I'm sorry it came from a bad sentiment like that... I still held onto the idea, though, since I felt like I had stumbled onto something way more interesting that whatever else I could have done with Zero.

We're not done yet, though! The whole reason this all took so hecking long is because I wanted to ensure the last few pages of this arc could happen all close to each other, just to wrap things up. And there's certainly a couple more shake-ups to go.
Oh hey I finally moved this over here.

The months are, perhaps obviously, based on their respective gemstones. Daima = April = diamond, for example.
Most of you are probably super confused! What the heck is this stuff? Where's the Love-Love Stick? Why is an angel hamster involved?

The very few of you who'd noticed the Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak references would have seen the build-up a long time ago, right as the Love Meter was introduced. I don't have any real REASON for switching it out like I did... except that I felt like subverting expectations.

And also to set up a joke image that I haven't actually done yet whoops. I'll put that in another author comment here when I do make it.
Once again, it's been a while! But there's more updates to come - one tomorrow, and one two days after that, on the 10th anniversary!

Really, all the things happening here were inevitable. Keeby and Paula catching up, Batamon finally being a big enough douche reeeeally piss Kirby off, the myriad of friendlies along the way helping lay the smackdown on Dark Red... not really a huuuge amount of surprise there.

Tomorrow's page might be a little more surprising.
@RedsterTheGamer: In-universe answer: He's not yet over the disappointment of everyone failing to stop Kirby, and didn't want to have to step in himself.

Actual answer: I wanted to use a bunch of the unique sprites from the game's sequences when it shows you the codes for Extra Mode and such.