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10 Best Kirby Games Ranked from Worst to Best

What’s pink, fluffy, and cute all over? Kirby, of course! Join us on a star ride through the 10 best Kirby games ranked and see what you’ve been missing.

Nintendo has a penchant for cute characters and bright colors. It’s part of their family-friendly image, and has served them well over their nearly forty-year career in the gaming industry. Out of all their iconic IPs and characters, none fit the “cute and bright” bill as well as Kirby.

The little pink puffball has been in business since 1992, cheerfully greeting players as they open his games and set off on a new adventure. With over thirty games in the franchise (including spin-offs), it’s hard to know which adventure to embark on when you’re new to the series. This week, we’re taking a look at the top ten Kirby games ranked to help you on your way.

Although both main series titles and spin-offs were considered for this list, you’ll notice that we focus mostly on more traditional Kirby games (a list of all Kirby games ranked would take an entire novel). I found that the main titles capture the spirit of the character and the series more than the spin-off titles do, making for more nuanced ranking. The spin-off titles are still a lot of fun, though, and we encourage you to check them out even if they’re not mentioned here!

Kirby Games Ranked from Worst to Best

Without further ado, let’s get into our ranking of the top ten best Kirby games ranked.

10. Kirby Star Allies

Kirby Star Allies
  • Platform(s): Switch
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: March 16, 2018

Starting us off is Kirby Star Allies, the most recent mainline addition to the Kirby series. When a mysterious alien influence possesses characters across Planet Popstar, Kirby must use the power of friendship (literally!) to rescue them. Players can form a dream team with rescued characters and befriended enemies to fight off the invasion that threatens Kirby’s happy little world.

Kirby Star Allies is a 2.5D platformer, following the traditional side-scrolling format of its predecessors (with the exception of the overworld map and a visually-stunning final boss fight). Kirby can be accompanied by up to three allies throughout the game, obtained by throwing hearts at smaller enemies or successfully rescuing other notable Kirby characters. These allies are AI-controlled if playing solo, but additional players can jump in for some couch co-op reminiscent of Kirby: Squeak Squad

The game received mixed reviews, with many players criticizing the incredibly low difficulty cap. Despite its easy story mode, however, Kirby Star Allies offers a beautiful and robust gaming experience with the additional game modes unlocked after completing the campaign. It’s well-deserving of a spot on our list, but lacks some of the iconic charm that the other titles bring to the series.

9. Kirby: Triple Deluxe

Kirby Triple Deluxe
  • Platform(s): 3DS
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: May 2, 2014

Next up is Kirby: Triple Deluxe, so named because of its full incorporation of Nintendo 3DS features. The system’s 3D effect is beautifully utilized as Kirby travels between the back and foregrounds, making the already-impressive graphics pop even more. The motion controls and StreetPass functionality aren’t quite as prominent, but are useful for solving puzzles and collecting keychains, respectively.

Overall, the gameplay doesn’t differ much from other Kirby games. Kirby still has his regular moveset, though there are a few new Copy abilities introduced, in addition to twenty returning skills. The new options include Archery (for shooting enemies and quick disguises), Beetle (for carrying, impaling, and slamming enemies with a rhinoceros beetle horn), Bell (for shielding and attacking with soundwaves), and Circus (for taking down enemies with a range of combative circus tricks). 

The primary campaign surrounds Kirby’s quest to return Dream Land to normal after a magic beanstalk lifts its landmarks high into the sky. Completing the story mode unlocks Dededetour!, a more challenging version of the campaign featuring King Dedede as the player character. The game also includes two additional modes — Kirby Fighters, a fighting game where players can customize their Kirby and battle against other Kirbys with different Copy abilities, and Dedede’s Drum Dash, a mini rhythm game again starring King Dedede.

8. Kirby’s Dream Land 3

Kirby Dream Land 3
  • Platform(s): Super NES
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: November 27, 1997

Kirby’s Dream Land 3 was the first of the Dream Land series to make it to a main Nintendo console, as the previous installments had been Game Boy titles. The shift was relatively well-received — although Kirby Super Star was a much bigger hit for the SNES, fans praised the release as a strong follow-up to the Dream Land series and a good sign for future Kirby games.

The gameplay itself is nothing revolutionary — the Copy abilities and allies had already been introduced as of Kirby’s Dream Land 2, so there’s nothing truly new as far as mechanics are concerned. Where Kirby’s Dream Land 3 excels, however, is in improving the mechanics of previous installments and streamlining the gameplay for a stronger console. The SNES’s vibrant colors brought Kirby into a new dimension and made the title stand out more than its predecessors.

Kirby’s Dream Land 3 is also famous for a graphically-violent final boss fight in one of its endings. The visuals definitely pale in comparison to today’s standards, but the vicious and bloody attacks were (and still are!) unusual for a first-party Nintendo game. Needless to say, it certainly left an impression on a generation of young gamers.

7. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

Kirby Crystal Shards
  • Platform(s): Nintendo 64
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: June 26, 2000

The Nintendo 64 was my first gaming console, and all of its titles hold a special place in my heart. Kirby 64 is no exception — in this installment, our favorite pink puffball sets out yet again to save Planet Popstar, this time by retrieving shards of a sacred fairy crystal and fending off the evil Dark Matter that threatens the entire galaxy.

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is the first of the Kirby games to render its characters and environment in 3D, allowing for the 2.5D platforming style that’s now become standard for the series. Kirby retains his regular moveset, but Kirby 64 introduces Power Combos for his copy abilities. With Power Combos, Kirby can combine two different abilities for special new moves or two similar abilities for more potent effects. 

Kirby 64 also includes a multiplayer minigame mode in which up to four players can compete in three distinct minigames. The difficulty of these games can be adjusted, making this a great game mode for players of different skill levels.

6. Kirby’s Adventure / Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land

Kirbys Adventure
  • Platform(s): NES, GBA, 3DS
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: May 1, 1993

Following the success of Kirby’s debut in Kirby’s Dream Land, a title released for the more powerful NES was destined to be a hit. In Kirby’s Adventure, our titular character quests to reunite the pieces of the Star Rod and defeat the evil creature known as Nightmare, who corrupts the pleasant dreams of the Dream Land residents.

Kirby’s Adventure marks the introduction of Kirby’s now-iconic Copy abilities. Where Dream Land had featured only traditional power-ups, Kirby’s Adventure allows players to swallow certain enemies and mimic their moves. Some of these new abilities allow Kirby to reach parts of the map that wouldn’t be accessible otherwise, making them useful for combat and simple puzzle-solving.

Nintendo released a 2002 remake of Kirby’s Adventure for the Game Boy Advance titled Kirby’s Nightmare in Dream Land. Most of the remake remained faithful to its source material, aside from improved graphics and sound effects. However, certain difficulty elements were adjusted from the original game to reflect critical feedback from fans. The game also introduces additional game modes in the form of minigames, co-op multiplayer, and an unlockable campaign where players can revisit levels as Meta Knight.

5. Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Kirby’s Epic Yarn
  • Platform(s): 3DS, Wii
  • Developer: Good-Feel
  • Release Date: October 17, 2010

We’re halfway through our list, and kicking off our top five is one of the most unique and charming entries in the series. Kirby’s Epic Yarn captures the same imaginative childhood spirit present in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (which is one of my all-time favorite games). The art style itself breathes new life into the Kirby franchise — everything is lovingly rendered in knitted and fabric textures to seem like a crafted storybook featuring a yarn ball protagonist. The textile theme doesn’t only affect the graphics, though; it’s intrinsic to the gameplay itself.

Since Kirby’s made of yarn (it’s not just an aesthetic choice!), he no longer has access to certain parts of his moveset. Instead of inhaling his enemies and Copying their abilities, Kirby can instead unravel and reform himself into a variety of shapes that allow him to traverse obstacles. He can glide by turning into a parachute, put out walls of flame by becoming a fire truck, and travel custom paths by transforming into a train, among many other options.

The game has received some criticism for its lack of difficulty — the nature of the gameplay makes it impossible for Kirby to die. I don’t necessarily see this as a detriment, though, as the game is built more around creativity and collectibles than defeating enemies. It’s definitely a bit of a departure, but the unique approach is enough to earn Kirby’s Epic Yarn a spot in our top five best Kirby games ranked.

4. Kirby: Planet Robobot

Kirby Planet Robobot
  • Platform(s): 3DS
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: June 10, 2016

At number four on our list of Kirby games ranked is Kirby: Planet Robobot, a sequel to Kirby: Triple Deluxe. In this adventure, Planet Popstar is threatened by a mega-corporation called the Haltmann Works Company that wants to mechanize the world. Kirby gains control of a mysterious mecha suit that enhances his powers, and must use it to battle the company’s greedy CEO and save the beautiful nature of the planet.

Planet Robobot’s gameplay is similar to Triple Deluxe, with the notable addition of the mecha suit. Kirby can pilot the suit and use it to destroy large enemies and obstacles and lift heavy objects. Much like Kirby’s Copy abilities, the mecha suit can scan enemies and improve its moveset by incorporating their unique powers. Kirby himself gains a few new Copy abilities, including Doctor, ESP, and Poison.

The game also includes the minigames Team Kirby Clash and Kirby 3D Rumble. The first one is a multiplayer action RPG (the inspiration for the similarly-titled spin-off) in which players work together to defeat bosses. The second is a single-player mode in which players defeat waves of enemies. Completing the primary campaign also unlocks a boss rush arena and a more challenging version of the campaign where the players control Meta Knight.

3. Kirby & the Amazing Mirror

Kirby & the Amazing Mirror
  • Platform(s): GBA
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory, Flagship, Dimps
  • Release Date: October 18, 2004

When I told my fiancé that I was ranking the Kirby games, he immediately treated me to an in-depth review of Kirby & the Amazing Mirror. It stands out in his mind as the best implementation of co-op multiplayer to date, giving each player a robust and boundless experience while still managing to be collaborative. 

The story surrounds Kirby’s quest to gather the shards of the Amazing Mirror from their scattered locations across Mirror Land. In true platformer fashion, Kirby must unite them to rescue Meta Knight and the rest of Dream Land. The only problem? Kirby himself has been split into four pieces! When playing solo, players control one Kirby while AIs run amok in the Metroidvania-esque map with his counterparts. In multiplayer, however, up to three extra players can team up via GBA link cables and take full control of the other Kirbys as though they were playing the game on their own. At any point, any of the players can use their Cell Phone item to summon the other players (or AIs) to their location for help in a difficult spot.

Letting so many players share a single campaign on equal footing is rare in multiplayer even to this day. When paired with quality gameplay, fun new powers and Copy abilities, and a handful of single- and multiplayer minigames, it’s no wonder that so many Kirby fans look back on Amazing Mirror with such fondness.

2. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land
  • Platform(s): Wii, WiiU
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: October 24, 2011

Our runner-up spot goes to Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, a title initially meant for the GameCube. In this installment, Kirby and his friends collect pieces of a destroyed spaceship in the hopes of traveling out into the cosmos, only to find themselves the victims of an alien invasion when it turns out that their quest is more sinister than they bargained for.

The campaign can be played either single- or multiplayer, with additional players controlling either color-coded Kirbys or a unique character (King Dedede, Meta Knight, and Waddle Dee). Multiplayer is made more difficult because all players share a single pool of lives, though this is (somewhat) balanced by powerful Team Attacks.

Return to Dream Land introduces a few new abilities for Kirby — on top of his regular moveset and a few new Copy moves, he can now perform Super Inhales and Super Abilities. Super Inhales work similarly to regular inhales, but with extended range and more powerful suction for inhaling larger objects and enemies. Super Abilities are more powerful, temporary Copy abilities that deal massive amounts of damage to an area, including destroying parts of the environment. 

As with other Kirby games, completing the campaign unlocks a more challenging version of the story and a boss-rush arena. Amassing enough in-game collectibles also unlocks the Challenge Rooms, where players can test their skill at specific abilities.

1. Kirby Super Star Ultra

Kirby Super Star Ultra
  • Platform(s): DS
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: September 29, 2008

Many Kirby fans won’t be surprised to see Super Star Ultra at the top of our list of Kirby games ranked. It’s very difficult to beat the timeless appeal of Kirby Super Star, even as gaming technology evolves, and the SNES becomes more of a relic of the past.

To celebrate the franchise’s 15th anniversary, Nintendo pulled together a remake of Kirby Super Star for the Nintendo DS, which featured all of the classic Kirby levels with a few modernized tweaks. All of the original game modes are present, complete with integration of DS touchscreen mechanics to bring classic Kirby into the new era. Four additional game modes are added, including more difficult versions of certain levels and the option to play through the game as Meta Knight.

Kirby Super Star Ultra also includes a handful of new minigames and multiplayer powered by DS Download Play. Everything that fans love about Kirby Super Star is present in the remake, but with well-oiled joints and a brand new coat of paint.

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Related Reading

That’s it for our list of the top ten Kirby games ranked! With all of the main titles and spin-offs, though, we’re bound to have left off a few worthy titles. If your favorite Kirby game isn’t listed here, feel free to tell us more about it in the comments!

Happy gaming!

 

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