It's crazy to think that Kirby has reached his 30th anniversary already. This pink puffball was created by Super Smash Bros. mastermind, Masahiro Sakurai, and has been co-owned between HAL Laboratory and Nintendo since his first appearance in April 1992. Over the decades, he's left a huge legacy with over 30 games total.
It was no easy feat, but we've evaluated all of his adventures to determine the 10 best Kirby games of all time. Here's what makes them so great.
How we ranked
Instead of simply choosing our favorite games, we also considered several other factors to determine which Kirby games were in the top 10. Here are the standards by which we chose the top 10 Kirby games.
- Legacy: We considered the impact that the game had on later games in the series.
- Cultural impact: Games that are more often referenced in other media including memes were given more points.
- Current replay value: Games don't always age well, so we gave more points to games that were still fun to play and offered plenty of replay value. Whereas, games with strange gimmicks that didn't last ranked lower.
We chose not to consider collections when making this list since they would make things redundant and we wanted to focus on standalone accomplishments, but collections are definitely worth your time as well. Especially if they include these games.
10. Kirby's Dream Land 2 (GB, 1995)
As the third mainline entry in the series, Kirby's Dream Land 2 is the second Kirby title to launch on the original Game Boy. While many longtime fans don't consider this sequel quite as fundamental as its predecessors, there's no denying how fantastic this game is, especially for a black and white Gameboy title.
In Kirby's Dream Land 2, everyone's favorite pink fluffball is joined for the first time by a cast of animal allies. Adorable and precious partners like Rick the Hamster and Coo the Owl introduced brand new gameplay mechanics to the series, allowing the versatile Kirby more powers than ever before. The combination of animal companions and classic Kirby powerups makes this one of the best handheld Kirby games.
9. Kirby & The Amazing Mirror (GBA, 2004)
This entry is ahead of its time when it comes to multiplayer functionality, but it's also limited by the capabilities of the Game Boy Advance (GBA). Kirby goes through this adventure using his usual attacks and platforming abilities. This game also revolves around open-world exploration in a more Metroidvania style, so players can basically wander wherever they'd like as long as they're powerful enough.
What makes the game stand out though is that the main campaign offers multiplayer for up to four players as long as each has their own GBA. They can not only command a different colored version of the puffball but also have complete reign to wander as far away as they want from each other. If the players want to regroup, they just have to use their in-game cell phones. Additionally, if someone gets a Game Over, another player can revive them by sharing from their own stash of lives.
Of course, the GBA didn't offer Wi-Fi so players had to be physically connected to each other using cables, which limited their movement and required planning to get together. You can imagine how awesome this kind of gameplay on Nintendo Switch would be where players could be miles or even countries apart and still participate in an adventure together at the drop of a hat.
8. Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS, 2014)
Although it sounds like some kind of collection of three games, Kirby Triple Deluxe is a standalone title whose confusing name is actually a nod to its presence on the 3DS. Triple Deluxe, 3DS — you see what they were going for even if it isn't intuitive.
As far as the story goes, King Dedede is kidnapped and it's up to Kirby and his trademark Copy Abilities to make things right. Like most of his other games, it's still a 2.5D sidescroller. However, Kirby has the ability to jump between the foreground and background of stages to solve puzzles and reach new places. Additionally, this handheld game includes Kirby Fighters, which allows up to four players each with their own 3DS to fight each other to see who can be the last Kirby standing.
It's a thoroughly solid entry in the series that provided a fun experience for players even if it didn't add anything all that unique.
7. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64, 2000)
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is the pink boy's first foray into 3D graphics, however, it's considered a 2.5D platformer, meaning it still retains the sidescroller level design of previous Kirby games and keeps Kirby on a 2D plane. The gameplay is still incredibly fun as it allows players to combine two Copy Abilities together to create Power Combos, which are stronger than his regular abilities. For instance, combining Ice with Electricity turns him into a fridge that shoots food. There are 28 possible combos which allow for plenty of discovery while players make their way through the game.
In this adventure, Dark Matter has spread on various worlds and is turning everyone into evil versions of themselves. Kirby goes on a quest to turn his friends back to normal. In addition to the single-player campaign, Kirby 64 offers three minigames for up to four players, with Checkerboard Chase being an especially good last man standing party game. Of course, it would have been much better if it offered multiplayer in the main campaign.
6. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii, 2010)
Some Nintendo characters went through a kind of arts and crafts phase in the 2010s following the success of the Paper Mario series and the same thing happened to our favorite puffball. In Kirby's Epic Yarn, a caped sorcerer is going around and turning everyone into yarn and it's up to Kirby to turn everyone back to normal. However, he can no longer suck things up, so he must use his new threaded body to change shapes to make it through various challenges and defeat enemies.
This new approach allows the sidescroller to feel familiar while providing creative new puzzles and obstacles for Kirby to overcome. The art style is charming with the background looking like something someone sewed together. Kirby can even learn to open zippers or pull-on tabs to reveal new pathways hidden by cloth.
It also offers multiplayer in the main campaign where Player 2 takes control of Prince Fluff who looks like a Blue Kirby with a crown and can do the same moves. It's a wonderful adventure that breaks away from the norm and is actually the spiritual precursor to the cute diorama games: Yoshi's Wooly World and Yoshi's Crafted World.
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Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.