The best Kirby games demonstrate just how creative and varied Nintendo’s series has become over the years. The adorable pink puffball officially celebrated his 30th anniversary earlier this year, meaning it’s the perfect time to look back over the very best Kirby games starring the inhaling hero. We’ve seen many inventive platforming adventures that make use of Kirby’s signature copy abilities in imaginative ways. HAL Laboratory has continued to shake up the formula in different ways, with colorful designs and exciting features. The latest adventure Kirby and the Forgotten Land once again demonstrated the pink puffball continues to deliver memorable experiences that will leave you with a smile on your face. So join us as we celebrate the pink hero with our pick of the best Kirby games.
10. Kirby Mass Attack
Released for the Nintendo DS in 2011, Kirby Mass Attack applied the more is merrier approach to sequels by releasing an innovative puzzle platformer featuring a lot of Kirbys. In it, players help the Kirby swarm exact revenge upon the evil wizard Necrodeus by manipulating them, their enemies, and key level items using the DS’s stylus and touchscreen controls.
Kirby Mass Attack accomplished two things for Nintendo. It demonstrated that Kirby’s team still had the drive to try new ideas, and it offered DS fans a game that made creative use of the handheld’s touchscreen tech. It isn’t the strongest entry on Kirby’s resume, but it was a sign that the series hadn’t lost its oddball edge.
9. Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
Kirby and The Amazing Mirror cemented the Kirby series as one of Nintendo’s most creative. In it, the pink puffball finds himself split into four separately colored entities and given the job of reassembling the pieces of a magic mirror to save the inhabitants of Mirror World.
In a refreshing twist on his usual side-scrolling format, Kirby and The Amazing Mirror played as a Metroidvania adventure that had players unlocking new areas with different abilities and discovering all the secrets, hidden pathways, mini-games, and bonuses within the title’s nine worlds. Adding to its appeal, Kirby and The Amazing Mirror featured the ability to call Kirby’s other personas via cellphone to lend their unique skills to any given situation.
8. Kirby’s Dream Land 2
The success of Kirby’s Adventure for the NES in 1993 earned Kirby enough gaming cred to branch out into two side projects: Kirby’s Pinball Land and Kirby’s Dream Course. By 1995, however, fans were itching for a return to Kirby’s roots, and Nintendo delivered in spades with Kirby’s Dream Land 2 for Game Boy.
Kirby’s Dream Land 2 pushed the series forward with gameplay improvements, design tweaks, and some of the best 2D platforming the Game Boy had to offer. Old abilities were fine-tuned, and new allies like Rick the Hamster, Kine the Ocean Sunfish, and Coo the Owl were introduced to lend a hand. HAL Laboratory’s return to Dream Land was an all-around success, launching Kirby’s Dream Land 2 into the Game Boy’s top seller list and securing it a top spot in Best Game Boy games lists for all eternity.
7. Kirby 64: the Crystal Shards
Kirby’s debut on the Nintendo 64 didn’t rock the gaming world, but it did carry the Kirby flame forward in some new and innovative ways. Though still a side-scrolling platformer at heart, Crystal Shards’ 2.5D environments and the illusion of Super Mario 64-esque freedom was a refreshing change of pace. What’s more, the N64’s beefier processing power gave the pink puffball a fresh, modern look compared to that of his Game Boy Advanced titles.
Above the graphical improvements, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards improved upon Kirby’s traditional moves. In addition to inhaling and assuming his enemy’s traits, Kirby was upgraded with the ability to combine different powers for various effects. Swallowing an electric enemy and a sword, for instance, created a lightsaber; while gobbling electricity and ice created a healing refrigerator. The combo system brought more substance to Kirby’s 64-bit upgrade.
6. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land brought the pink hero back to his roots in a delightfully colorful adventure on the Wii. It offers a 2.5D platforming game reminiscent of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards in both visual style and gameplay mechanics. This was partly due to the fact that production on Kirby’s Return to Dream Land actually began immediately after Kirby 64, but took HAL and Nintendo nearly 11 years to bang it into shape for a Wii release.
And the investment paid off. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land reminded fans why they fell for the little puffball that could. Nintendo put a pause on innovating the series to put out a solid platforming adventure featuring Kirby doing what he does best: inhaling foes, spitting them out, and occasionally copying their style. New features like super abilities and drop-in cooperative multiplayer-only added to the fun. Kirby’s return may have taken place on an alien planet, but it felt close to home.
5. Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush
Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush really brought the Wii U to life with its delightful claymation style offering. With gameplay reminiscent of Kirby: Canvas Curse on the DS, Rainbow Paintbrush sees you draw out Kirby’s path through each stage or shield him from enemies on the Wii U touchpad. Taking the form of a little clay ball, the colorful adventure once again shows off the creativity of the series, with an eye-catching world that brings renewed life to the platforming. It really is a memorable treat.
4. Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Kirby’s Epic Yarn took full advantage of its unique look, incorporating the game’s arts-and-crafts aesthetics into every aspect of gameplay. Items crinkled, backgrounds folded, and enemies fell apart as if they were put together by felt, string, and glue sticks. Gone were Kirby’s standard moves, and in their place the ability to reshape his yarn body into whatever vehicle or device the situation demanded. It was a refreshing twist on an aging formula, with bundles of charm.
3. Kirby Super Star Ultra
1996’s Kirby Super Star for SNES was an all-you-can-eat buffet of awesome, offering eight meaty Kirby games in one delicious cartridge. As the first Kirby game to introduce co-op, it was packed with sixteen games. Every one of its offerings feels like a polished, standalone entry. Whether it’s spelunking in the Great Cave Offensive, rising through the ranks in Helper to Hero, or going back to basics in Spring Breeze, there’s very little that feels tacked on to increase the remake’s game count. Dripping with fan service, Kirby Super Star Ultra reminds us why we’ve grown to love Nintendo’s puffball over the years.
2. Kirby: Planet Robobot
In 2016, Kirby landed on the 3DS in a memorably mechanized way. Kirby: Planet Robobot made the most of the handheld’s 3D functionality to deliver a platforming adventure that played around with the depth of field by moving the pink puffball back and forth between within the levels. The generous variety of abilities on offer are also endlessly fun to play around with and copy. But what really sets Planet: Robobot apart is the introduction of the mech suit Kirby can pilot. As well as giving Kirby new powers in combat, the armor also comes into play to solve puzzles in inventive ways.
1. Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby and the Forgotten Land brought the inhaling hero back for a new adventure entirely in 3D. With more open platforming, a mystery setting with visually striking stages, and a host of features, Forgotten Land really feels like a big step up for the pink puffball. Waddle Dee Town is packed with charm, offering up delightful mini-games, useful stores, a cinema, a colosseum, and more. Kirby’s latest entry is a refreshing take on a series that hasn’t strayed away from the side-scrolling formula, Showing off the creativity of HAL Laboratory with inventive level designs and the addition of new skills like Mouthful Mode, Forgotten Land takes Kirby to new heights. We can hardly wait to see where the series will go next.
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