Who's the greatest pink puffball character of all time? (Hint: it isn't Jigglypuff.) Kirby is one of Nintendo's most iconic franchises. He's been the star of over 20 games, appearing on every major Nintendo console. He has manga, as well as an anime that aired back in the early 2000s. He's also been featured as a prominent character in every Super Smash Bros. In short, Kirby of the Stars has remained a popular, lovable hero. 2017 marks his 25th anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than to take a look at every main game in the series?
Starting in 1992, Kirby began to leave his mark on the gaming world. Most of the games follow a traditional pattern. But as we'll see with yarn and the canvas, the games have diverged from the usual platforming at times. Kirby, however, will always be known for its take on the side-scrolling genre. Its distinctive, colorful worlds will always mark it above a generic platformer. And of course, Kirby's copy ability will always be the biggest thing separating it from other games. That, and its continued emphasis on an epic climax that is of RPG quality. As one can see, the Kirby games are some of the better platformers out there, bringing the fun to anyone of any age. Of course, while all the main Kirby games bring something to the table, they don't all have the same, equal level of quality. We'll be taking a look at every main Kirby game ranked from worst to best.
15 Kirby's Dream Land
This is the game that started it all. Every Kirby game owes its existence to Dream Land. From the now iconic Green Greens theme to the battle against Whispy Woods, Kirby's Dream Land gave players a fun little unique platformer when it released back in 1992. It's held up well enough, but its sequels make the game feel more like a prototype today.
Dream Land's level design is good and it's overall a fun time. But its sequels perfected the formula. Dream Land didn't even have Kirby's copy ability. (We wouldn't see that until the next game.) Perhaps the biggest reason why it's placed last is its play time; you can beat it in under an hour, and if you're fast, just a half hour. Dream Land is a legacy game, and deserves respect, but it's definitely the weakest Kirby platformer.
14 Kirby And The Rainbow Curse
In 2005, Nintendo gave us Kirby: Canvas Curse, a game that made excellent use of the Stylus. That game was well liked, but I don't think many were clamoring for a sequel. A game like that is best off as an innovative one-shot. But, 10 years later, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse released for the Wii U.
The Wii U GamePad does utilize a Stylus as well, but the problem is that the player doesn't want to look at the GamePad because Rainbow Curse's graphics should be viewed on a television screen at all times; it's a gorgeous looking game. It's a shame the graphics were used for this instead of a more traditional platformer. Rainbow Curse isn't a bad game, it's just more simplistic than Canvas Curse and even removed Kirby's copy ability. But man is it pretty to look at.
13 Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
For the most part, the Kirby series has kept to the formula established in Dream Land. But like all franchises, the series has taken some diverse turns. One such game that took a break from the linear platformer was Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, by far the most ambitious Kirby game to date.
Unlike most Kirby games, there are no linear levels. Instead, it's one giant world with interconnecting parts. Instead of going through the levels in standard fashion, the game encourages exploration and backtracking, much like a Metroid game. This works in Mirror's favor sometimes, but also acts as a detriment. It gets tiring having to revisit the same places and the map system needs serious work. Mirror is worth checking out if one has a lot of patience.
12 Kirby Mass Attack
There will probably never be another game like Kirby Mass Attack. This installment has an evil being strike Kirby, splitting the pink puffball into 10 copies. Yes, you can control up to 10 Kirby. It sounds daunting, but the gameplay somehow makes it possible, sometimes with mixed results.
It can be sometimes annoying controlling the Kirbys, especially when you know losing one has dire consequences. Many levels require the player to have a set number of Kirbys; so backtracking can be necessary and tedious if one doesn't have enough Kirbys to press on. At the very least, the level design is often interesting and controlling a bunch of everyone's favorite tomato eater has a nice charm. Despite some annoyances, Mass Attack is worth a look.
11 Kirby: Triple Deluxe
Every major Nintendo console has brought a new Kirby game. For the 3DS, Triple Deluxe released in 2014. It brought Kirby back to basics on the small console. It also introduced a couple of new gameplay mechanics, such as being able to go into the background of a level and the "Hypernova" ability. It's a well-made game, though a terribly easy one.
Kirby has always been known as one of Nintendo's easiest franchises. That doesn't mean a traditional platformer should be devoid of challenge. Most of the levels are incredibly easy, and even acquiring the collectibles is often simple. The Hypernova ability is fun the first few times, but after awhile it grows stale because it makes an already easy game, easier. If the level design was more special, then this wouldn't as big of a deal. Triple Deluxe isn't a bad game in the slightest; it's just there are more engaging installments in the Kirby series.
10 Kirby: Planet Robobot
The most recent main Kirby game, Planet Robobot is the second 3DS installment. It takes a lot of cues from Triple Deluxe, including the ability to travel to the background of a stage and a super ability, this time the Robobot Armor. It shares some of the same negatives as well, such as an often lack of challenge. But it's a more engaging installment and a satisfying enough entry in the series.
Unlike the Hypernova ability, which slowed down the gameplay in Triple Deluxe, Kirby's Robobot Armor feels more like an organic part of the gameplay. Like the puffball himself, the armor can copy enemy abilities. These can be used to shoot opponents, such as "Jet" mode, or be used for puzzles, such as "Bomb" mode. Planet Robobot's level design isn't bad, and no one will forget the epic final act.
9 Kirby: Squeak Squad
As longtime Kirby fans can attest to, most of the games follow a similar pattern. Go through linear levels, copy enemy abilities, and seek out hidden collectibles; this is what the franchise is known for. Squeak Squad did nothing to change that when it released in 2006. One could argue that it is the most generic Kirby game. Sure, there are no big innovations and it's relatively simple. However, while Squeak Squad may be more of the same, it does it all very well.
Whereas Triple Deluxe and to a lesser extent, Planet Robobot, feel a little slow at times, Squeak Squad is a fast moving game. The level design is solid and the backgrounds are great. I particularly like how Kirby can store abilities on the bottom screen of the DS. Squeak Squad may not be too original, but it's not a bad example of what a quality Kirby game looks like.
8 Kirby: Canvas Curse
There was a time in the Nintendo DS's lifespan when it put a heavy emphasis on the touch screen for movement. (As an example, you control Link in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass purely with the Stylus.) This made sense, because the console popularized the touchscreen for the gaming industry. A prime example of putting the touchscreen to excellent use is Kirby: Canvas Curse.
Nowadays, having a touchscreen is almost expected. A game like Canvas Curse would probably fit better on a mobile device today. But one must understand that at the time a touchscreen was innovative. Canvas Curse uses it to the fullest: the player guides Kirby by drawing lines that help reach him his goal. The game uses this smartly, especially when you want to acquire collectibles. Somehow, Kirby retains his copy ability. This is a fun little title worth checking out.
7 Kirby's Dream Land 2
Despite having a "2" in its title, 1995's Dream Land 2 is the third Kirby game, coming after the first Dream Land and Adventure. Like Dream Land, Dream Land 2 was released for the Game Boy. This classic title isn't quite as good as NES's Adventure, but it packs enough content to provide a satisfying Kirby experience.
The gameplay is identical to the franchise's previous two games, but does add a new feature: Kirby's Animal Friends. Whether it be having an advantage on land while riding on the hamster Rick, soaring through the woods with the owl Coo, or swimming along with the fish Kine, these happy helpers nicely add diversity to the gameplay. Combine that with solid level design, and we have another memorable installment in the Kirby series.
6 Kirby's Return To Dream Land
As shocking as it may sound, there was an 11-year gap before we got another traditional Kirby game on a home console. Kirby 64 released in 2000, and it wouldn't be until 2011 when Kirby's Return to Dream Land came out. The wait was worth it, because Return to Dream Land brought the iconic gameplay for old-school fans and people picking up a Kirby game for the first time.
After years of playing Kirby on the small consoles, it was good to see the puffball back on the big screen with a traditional adventure. The Super Abilities were an explosive new feature, and made the player feel extra epic every time Kirby would slash a boss away with the Ultra Sword. 4-player multiplayer was an awesome addition as well. Combine that with one of the best climaxes in the franchise, and Kirby's Return to Dreamland remains a fine installment, and one of the best to pick up if you're new to the series.
5 Kirby's Dream Land 3
Kirby's Dream Land 3 released on the SNES after the Nintendo 64 had come out, so the game isn't as well known as its predecessors since most people had gone to buy Nintendo's 3D-capable console. It's a shame Dream Land 3 had the misfortune of releasing on the Super Nintendo's last hurrah and as a result isn't discussed too much today. It's a great game while also feeling a little different than the usual Kirby platformer.
Right from the onset you'll notice something amazing about Dream Land 3: it's one of the prettiest looking games on the Super Nintendo, or rather, one of the prettiest looking games period. It's too bad Nintendo has used a more generic aesthetic for modern games like Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot. The music is upbeat, and the levels are fun. It's a shame Dream Land 3 seems to be the least liked of the Dream Land titles, because it's a wonderful game.
4 Kirby Super Star
Kirby Super Star might be the most well known Kirby game. It's also one of the best. Interestingly, instead of having one main mode, the game is divided between seven "sub-games" and two minigames. This could have backfired since typically more work dedicated into one mode means quality, whereas if a game is divided, the phrase "quantity over quality" might apply. That isn't the case with Super Star, because its main modes are excellent.
"Spring Breeze" is a condensed remake of Kirby's Dreamland. While shorter, it takes advantage of the SNES's color graphics and Kirby's copy capabilities. It's a fun little adventure that's sure to put a smile on anyone's face. "Dyna Blade" is also good, and who could forget the giant "Great Cave Offensive"? The two best modes are "Revenge of Meta Knight," a fast-paced intense story mode, and "Milky Way Wishes," an overall awesome platformer. Super Star packs a lot of great content.
3 Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Most major Nintendo characters made the jump to the Nintendo 64 and came out with critically acclaimed results. Mario got Super Mario 64 and Link got Ocarina of Time. Kirby wasn't left in the dust; he too came out with a game that made use of computer generated graphics. Though it's not a total 3D platformer (come to think of it, Kirby is overdue for one) The Crystal Shards is an excellent, challenging Kirby installment.
Its level design is challenging, the music is catchy, (it's hard to beat the opening "Popstar" theme) and there's even a new feature that The Crystal Shards shines in: the ability to combine copy abilities. Honestly, it's shocking the series hasn't made more use of this. Who doesn't have a blast combining the "Cutter" and "Burner" to create a "Sword of Fire"? The Crystal Shards remains an engaging title.
2 Kirby's Epic Yarn
Some games, after playing for an hour or two, the player wants a break from. This is not the case with Kirby's Epic Yarn. The player wants to keep playing and playing Epic Yarn to see what the game will throw at the screen next. There are not many games like it. It's one of the most beautiful pieces of pop culture I've ever had the honor of playing through.
There's something wonderful about skating through Snowy Fields alongside Christmas-like music, hopping on dinosaurs in Dino Jungle, and running into the yummy donuts of Sweet Park. Those things are just the tip of the iceberg in this amazing game. Epic Yarn might look like a fluffy children's game on the surface, but it's a whole lot more. It's an adventure everyone should experience.
1 Kirby's Adventure
It should come as no surprise what made the number one spot. I stated in the first entry on this list that Kirby's Dream Land plays like a prototype today. It's sequel, Kirby's Adventure, took everything that made Dream Land fun and expanded it into a longer game. It added Kirby's signature copy ability and featured color graphics for the first time. It's only the second ever Kirby game, but it set the standard and remains one of the most fun Nintendo platformers of all time.
After the charming intro, the game drops the player into the hub world, already giving the game a bigger feel than its predecessor. The level design and music are excellent, the boss fights are memorable (who doesn't remember the challenging Meta Knight battle?) and the climax is the greatest of the series. Kirby's Adventure is a Nintendo all-star title, and with the ending of Kirby waving goodbye, the player walks away satisfied.