Kirby fans know that the series falls into two categories. There are the classic platforming action games like Kirby Star Allies and Kirby’s Dreamland, and then there are the experimental games that shove Kirby into every possible scenario from racing to pinball. Some of these titles are hit or miss but most of them are pretty fun. Here are the five best Kirby spin-off games.
5. Kirby’s Pinball Land (Game Boy)
Released on the Game Boy in 1993, Kirby’s Pinball Land kicks off the tangent of side games Kirby would star in over the years. More than just a pinball game featuring Kirby, this game involved ascending through a series of levels by shooting Kirby past the top of the screen. The third screen up is where a Warpstar could be found that would take you to a boss fight against Whispy Woods, Kracko, and the Poppy Bros. After clearing all three stages, you must face King Dedede in his famous boxing ring.
This game pulls all sorts of tricks to stop you in your tracks like having characters throw you back down if you run into them and freezing up the pinball flippers so you can’t knock Kirby back up. It’s still a fun game to this day and can be found in the 3DS eShop for only a few bucks, so give it a try.
4. Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble (Game Boy Color)
Utilizing a motion-sensing device built directly into the game cartridge, Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble let players control the direction of Kirby by tilting the Game Boy Color in various directions. The goal was to guide Kirby through a series of obstacles and hazards to the end of the level. Jerking the Game Boy Color upward made Kirby jump, adding an extra layer of skill to the game. There are eight worlds, each with a boss battle at the end, as well as an assortment of mini-games. A sequel was in the works for the GameCube and would have used the GBA adapter to control Kirby, but this game was ultimately canceled.
3. Kirby Canvas Curse (Nintendo DS)
One of the most unique experiences from HAL Laboratory featured the touch screen of the Nintendo DS for its control scheme. In Kirby Canvas Curse, you guide Kirby to the end of each stage by drawing rainbow lines on the touch screen to move him along. Drawing loop de loops gives Kirby a boost of speed which helps clear trickier areas. This ability is limited, however, by a bar that depletes as you draw, so you have to carefully plan out each route while keeping an eye on this meter.
Tapping Kirby will either propel him forward and damage enemies or unleash whichever copy ability you’re currently using, including Wheel, Beam, Stone and more. Featuring eight full worlds, boss battles, and some really fun mini-games, Canvas Curse sits near the top of the Kirby side-game hierarchy. A follow up to this game, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, was released on the Wii U with mixed reception and a new clay model art style.
2. Kirby Air Ride (GameCube)
The first and only Kirby racing game was also the only game in the series to be released on the GameCube. Throwing its own unique spin on the genre, acceleration was not activated via holding a button pressed down. Instead, each vehicle moved on its own and the A button was used to pull off speed boosting moves, use copy abilities, and come to a complete stop.
There are three modes to play around with, Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial. Air Ride is your basic Grand Prix featuring several sprawling tracks to race through. Top Ride presents a top-down view of a small self-contained track full of power-ups and hazards, while City Trial, the most popular of the three modes, puts players on a huge map together. The goal is to break open boxes and collect different power-ups that boost your top speed, turning, acceleration, and more. There’s a set time limit, and at the end of each round players are pit against each other in a mini-game such as a battle royale or a drag race. Which power-ups you’ve collected will determine your success rate.
1. Kirby’s Dream Course (SNES)
Last but not least is Kirby’s Dream Course for the SNES, which I consider to be the crown jewel of the bunch. This game puts an interesting spin on golf as the goal is not simply to go for the hole. Before you can do that, you must first clear the board of all its enemies and the last enemy standing will turn into the hole. There’s a variety of copy-abilities available to help you navigate the board. The Fireball ability sends you burning through the stage in whatever direction you’re facing and the Freeze ability helps you pass water hazards by freezing it solid, allowing you to slide across.
Adding another layer of strategy to the game is the ability to curve your shots in different directions and keeping Kirby bouncing by pressing the A button upon landing. If all of these copy-abilities and special moves are orchestrated in a perfect fashion, it’s possible to get a hole-in-one on every course. Anyone who can pull this off on some of the later courses is an insane genius as it takes a ton of dexterity to pull this off.
What did you think of this list of Kirby spin-off games? Are there any games you would have liked to see make the cut? Sound off in the comments below.