Kirby has been a Nintendo staple since he was first introduced on the Gameboy in 1992, so ranking the best Kirby games is no easy task.
Created by Masahiro Sakurai and HAL Laboratory, the little pink puff-ball has made an appearance on every Nintendo console and handheld.
While there are over 30 games with Kirby’s name attached, we’re only going to rank the 17 main storyline games.
17. Kirby’s Dream Land (Game Boy)
Average Rating: 63
Kirby’s Dream Land introduced Kirby to the world and laid the groundwork for most future Kirby games.
A sidescrolling platformer, Kirby’s Dream Land also showed players Kirby’s characteristics, abilities, and his home. In his first outing, Kirby couldn’t actually copy characters’ abilities as he can in most games. All he could do was inhale them and swallow or spit them out as a projectile.
The game only consisted of five levels, which is one of the main reasons it was rated so poorly by critics and players. A hard mode was unlocked after beating the main game which consisted of tougher enemies and a set amount of lives for Kirby.
At the time it was HAL Laboratory’s most successful game, but as far as Kirby games go, it was, unfortunately, their worst.
16. Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (SNES)
Average Rating: 66
In 1997 the third (and final) Dream Land game was released on the Super Nintendo. It brings back a lot of the features the games before had but was somewhat lackluster in its presentation.
Kirby has made many friends along the way, and a few of them make appearances in Dream Land 3 as well. Completing the game will require mastery of each of his friend’s unique abilities.
While reviewers loved the stylized graphics and unique art style, most were disappointed in the low difficulty of the game (a common complaint about Kirby games). The game was fun but didn’t take much time or effort to complete, which is why it’s not one of the best Kirby games, in our opinion.
15. Kirby: Squeak Squad (Nintendo DS)
Average Rating: 71
Anybody who’s played a Kirby game can tell you that Kirby loves to eat. Kirby: Squeak Squad’s entire story is based around the plot that his snack has vanished. Now he’s on a mission to get it back.
Taking note of gameplay from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby: Squeak Squad brought back the ability to combine Kirby’s powers. Albeit, only five of the abilities could be combined this time around.
On the other hand, a new feature called Copy Scrolls gave all 24 abilities a power-up.
Kirby: Squeak Squad received average reviews overall, but most critics felt that it lacked originality and didn’t make use of the touch screen as well as its predecessor did (Canvas Curse). As a stand-alone Kirby game with a new story, though, it did just fine.
14. Kirby Star Allies (Switch)
Average Rating: 73
Arguably the easiest Kirby game yet (more on that later), Kirby Star Allies was the first new Kirby game released on the Switch. It was also the first to have a co-op option. While the game can be played alone, three more players can join in and be Kirby’s allies on his adventure to destroy Void Termina. This opened up “Friend Actions,” which allowed the group of four to work together to complete specific levels.
The game received mixed reviews. While critics and players both loved the beautiful graphics, the game was just too easy and could be completed in a matter of just a few hours. Critics also praised the new group puzzle element that helped the game feel like a fresh take on the Kirby franchise.
Nintendo did take the criticism of the difficulty to heart and released an update that introduced a much more challenging mode.
13. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Wii U)
Average Rating: 75
Ten years after the success of Kirby Canvas Curse on the DS, Nintendo released a follow-up game for the Wii U. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse took what was great about using the touch screen on the DS and recreated it for a new generation on the Wii U.
Kirby has been turned into a…ball? Ok. The player primarily used the Wii U gamepad to draw paths that Kirby must follow to progress through the 28 levels of the game.
Overall the game received mostly positive reviews. Everybody loved the claymation-type art style, and it was regarded as one of the best-looking games on the Wii U.
Some negative reviews mentioned how it was somewhat linear and too simple at times, which is why it ranks so low on our list of the best Kirby games.
12. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land (Wii)
Average Rating: 77
Originally planned to be released on the Gamecube, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land instead got pushed and was released on the Wii.
Return to Dream Land had the typical Kirby gameplay with a couple of extra new features. When playing cooperatively with up to three other players, they can stack and become a totem.
Also, the other players can hold the essence of a copy ability for Kirby for him to use later on. Finally, Kirby was given the ability to do a “Super Inhale” by shaking the Wii Remote.
Reviewers loved the return to the traditional Kirby gameplay, which gave some a nostalgic feeling. They also commented on the detailed and vibrant visuals. The game overall was fun, which was the most important thing.
In 2023, Nintendo re-released the game as Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch.
11. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64)
Average Rating: 77
One of the most recognizable and memorable Kirby games, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards was rated as one of the best games on the Nintendo 64.
For the first time in the franchise, Kirby was able to combine abilities. This led to some very fun and crafty puzzles. Although it was frustrating at times to have the wrong combination, this meant replayability was a definite factor.
Unfortunately, the game was heavily criticized for its lackluster graphics. Most reviewers, however, were more focused on the unique gameplay, and although they felt it was targeted to a younger demographic, adults could enjoy it as well.
10. Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS): Cracks the Top 10 for Best Kirby Games
Average Rating: 80
Going back to its roots, Kirby: Triple Deluxe is the first game in a while to be a single-player-only campaign.
The game features over 20 copy abilities, including three new ones that had never been seen before. Furthermore, there are two subgames, including Kirby Fighters, which is like Smash Bros but only with versions of Kirby, and Dedede’s Drum Dash, which is a rhythm game featuring King Dedede.
Triple Deluxe got favorable reviews mostly from players, as reviewers were a little harsher on it. Players liked the soundtrack, 3D graphics, and the level design, while the reviewers didn’t appreciate the low level of difficulty (as usual).
9. Kirby’s Dream Land 2 (Game Boy)
Average Rating: 80
Back on the Gameboy, Dream Land 2 was released in 1995. This time around, though, Kirby has a copy ability, but only for certain enemies. The biggest addition this time around is Kirby’s three friends, who help him along the way and alter his copy abilities if applicable.
They also have their own specialties to aid Kirby. Ric the Hamster can run fast, Coo the Owl can fly quickly through high winds, and Kine the Sunfish can swim through strong water currents.
A much better presentation than its predecessor, Dream Land 2 got above-average reviews for the wide variety of abilities Kirby could now acquire and the solid gameplay. Some reviewers did complain that it used a lot of gameplay from the first Dream Land, but most importantly, it was more fun.
While Kirby’s Dream Land 2 is an oldie, it’s still one of the best Kirby games if you’re looking for a retro gaming experience.
8. Kirby & the Amazing Mirror (GBA)
Average Rating: 80
Kirby & the Amazing Mirror was the first Kirby game to offer co-op multiplayer. Using the Gameboy Advance Link Cable, three other friends could join in on the adventure. Nintendo changed up the typical formula for Kirby
This time around, the world is more of a maze than the usual sidescroller. They went to a “Metroidvania” map that would branch off to different areas based on which mirror Kirby and his friends entered. Three new minigames for single or multiplayer were also added.
One of the best-selling Gameboy Advance games, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, was also the runner-up as the best handheld game of the year in 2004. Players and reviewers liked the more difficult gameplay (finally) and discovering each hidden pathway.
7. Kirby’s Adventure (NES)
Average Rating: 81
Kirby is pink? This was quite a surprise to the other developers when Masahiro Sakurai designed Kirby in color for the first time. In Kirby’s second game and his first appearance on the NES, we see him as most of us remember him now; the little pink puffball that can now copy enemy abilities.
Also new to Kirby’s Adventure was the ability to run and slide/kick.
The reviews for Kirby’s Adventure were great. Reviewers loved the new copy ability and enjoyed that the game was long (41 levels). They also felt that it was very original and quite the improvement over Kirby’s Dream Land.
6. Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS)
Average Rating: 82
Kirby in mech armor is the most “metal” thing that’s ever happened in a Kirby game (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Planet Robobot is the sequel to Triple Deluxe and follows most of the same gameplay except for the newly added Robobot Armor. Although Kirby can still inhale enemies to copy abilities, his mech suit can scan enemies in the same manner for variations on those abilities.
Along with a couple of new minigames, players can also collect stickers that are used to customize Kirby’s Robobot.
Again reviewers complained that it was far too easy, but did enjoy the new mech mechanic and the unique boss fights.
5. Kirby Mass Attack (Nintendo DS)
Average Rating: 83
Leading off the top 5 is Kirby Mass Attack. Released in 2011, this was the final Kirby game to be released for the DS. Taking full advantage of the touch screen, using the stylus was the only way to control all of the Kirbys.
Kirby has been split into 10 smaller Kirbys, and they need to work together to defeat enemies and return Kirby back to his normal self. Tapping the screen will make a star appear; the Kirbys will follow or grab onto the star and use it to attack enemies or be used as a projectile.
The reviewers loved the originality of the game and the overwhelming cuteness of it all. It was undeniably fun and was, overall, a brilliant game.
4. Kirby Super Star (SNES)
Average Rating: 85
Kirby Super Star was a different type of game than players were used to seeing from Kirby at the time. This was actually eight different mini-games in one. They are as follows:
Milky Way Wishes – Kirby must defeat the jester Marx who started a war between the sun and moon.
The Great Cave Offensive – This is a “Metroidvania” adventure where Kirby needs to find 60 chests.
Gourmet Race – A race against King Dedede while eating as much food as possible along the way.
Revenge of Meta Knight – A time-limited game to stop Meta Knight from destroying Dream Land.
Dyna Blade – Kirby must complete four levels before fighting the giant bird Dyna Blade.
Spring Breeze – a much shorter remake of the original Kirby’s Dream Land.
The Arena – Kirby must defeat all the bosses with one life.
Subgames – Megaton Punch and Samurai Kirby.
Rated as one of the best Super Nintendo games of all time, it was loved by almost every reviewer. The soundtrack was incredible, and each game variation was a thrill. It was also runner-up for the side-scroller game of the year in 1996.
Kirby Super Stars deserves its place among the best Kirby games of all time, but a few titles deserved the top spots even more, and that’s why it fits in at number four on our list.
3. Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Switch) [Best Kirby Switch Game]
Average Rating: 85
The most recent Kirby game (as of this writing) was an entirely new take on the game. It is the first-ever [mainline] Kirby game in full 3D. Kirby’s goal this time around is to rescue Waddle Dees, that have been snatched up and kept in cages.
He has his usual copy abilities as well as the new ability to eat things that are much larger than him and power them himself. For example, he will envelop around a car to drive or a vending machine that shoots cans.
Hailed as one of the greatest games in the Kirby series, Kirby and the Forgotten Land sold over two million copies in just two weeks.
Reviewers loved the creative level design, the beautiful visuals, and especially the new Mouthful Mode. Furthermore, there was finally an option to choose an easy or hard mode.
2. Kirby: Canvas Curse (Nintendo Ds) [Best Kirby Ds Game]
Average Rating: 86
The first-ever Kirby game for the Nintendo DS did not disappoint. Nintendo went all out, making sure the touch screen was utilized in the most creative way. It was the only way to move Kirby around through all eight worlds.
A path had to be drawn on the touch screen for ball Kirby to move around on. Tapping on Kirby would make him dash and was mostly used to defeat enemies.
There were no inhaling or copy abilities this time, and the game was still tremendous amounts of fun without.
The reviewers enjoyed the innovation of Canvas Curse, for at the time, it was a one-of-a-kind game, and they called it fresh and engaging. It is still ranked overall in the top 100 best Nintendo games of all time.
1. Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii): The Best Kirby Game of All-Time
Average Rating: 88
Nobody ever knew it was possible to make Kirby games cuter than they already were. But Nintendo and HAL Laboratory found a way. Kirby’s Epic Yarn is the best Kirby game of the series for a multitude of reasons.
Being made completely of yarn, Kirby is unable to use his inhale abilities. Instead, he can transform into many yarn-based objects, including a car, parachute, weight, tank, and submarine, among many others. In typical Kirby fashion, there are many things to collect throughout each level, mostly in the form of buttons, beads, etc.
Not just Kirby has been turned into yarn, either. His entire world is made up of cloth and textiles, which resemble a giant world of unfinished crafts. Some doors are opened by undoing thread, and others may require a zipper or large ball of yarn to be spooled up.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn was such a creative masterpiece for Nintendo Wii that it spawned a Yoshi version five years later. In 2010 Epic Yarn won Game of the Show at E3 and a few Editor’s Choice awards after its release.
It was also nominated for best Wii game, best platformer, and best artistic style. To date, it has sold over two million copies. Not bad for a little pink puffball.
That’s our list of the best Kirby games from the mainline series. How would you go about ranking the Kirby games differently? Let us know in the comments.