YFJ ranks the Kirby games

Paper Mario the First

He is the one and only....
But the Circus ability is way too gimmicky to be useful. I guess it gives out a lot of invincibility frames, but it has the same "wtf this puts Kirby in a lot of danger" feel that the Ball ability has. But at least Ball is useful in taking out Dedede in Nightmare in Dreamland.
 

Kersti

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Circus may be a bit too risky, but like Ball, it's a ton of fun to use. There are abilities that are completely useless and unfun (*cough* Metal *cough*) so Kirby's seen a lot worse.
 

Paper Mario the First

He is the one and only....
Metal's cool at least, it just has severe mobility problems. I like the part where you roll down as Metal, but that's like the only time it's fun.

The Mini ability, on the other hand.......
 

Kersti

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Mini is just...bad. Like, there's literally no advantage to it other than solving the occasional puzzle.
 

winstein

Justice is not limited, it is a universal quality
I am surprised that Super Star is not ranked #1, which I kind of expect because supposedly it's the #1 Kirby game on many fan's list, plus it had the most Smash representation out of the existing Kirby games. Given what we have seen so far, I can already see what your #1 Kirby game is.

For the Mini, I suppose that's something Mario did better: Mini Mushroom-powered Mario may have made him smaller, but it has a good deal of advantages like running on water/poisoned water and being more floaty, even though his jump is weaker and he can't take a hit.

Thank you for reading.
 

Kersti

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I am surprised that Super Star is not ranked #1, which I kind of expect because supposedly it's the #1 Kirby game on many fan's list, plus it had the most Smash representation out of the existing Kirby games. Given what we have seen so far, I can already see what your #1 Kirby game is.
Most fan lists are based on how influential the games were to the series, usually favoring earlier installments, especially when nostalgia becomes a factor. My lists, on the other hand, typically compare how I feel they play as games, regardless of date released or impact on the series. My stance typically favors the sequel and its tendency to improve, and some might feel this to be unfair on older games, as they did not have predecessors to improve on and take ideas from. But I personally feel that this stance is unfair on the sequels, as no matter how much better the sequel is compared to the original, the original will always be regarded as better because it did it first. The original's ideas are definitely important and notable, but when comparing them side-by-side for a numerical list, I tend to opt for what I feel is the better game overall, which is oftentimes the sequel. People often look at sequels and say "done before". But I look at what new things it brought to the table, what the developers improved over the last game and whether they listened to criticisms the first time. That's how I feel a sequel deserves to be judged, not how revolutionary it isn't.

I'm not a veteran of the Kirby series. Star Allies was my first game in the series and I don't have any nostalgia for the series whatsoever. I wasn't there when Sakurai released his trio of Kirby games, or when he left HAL, or when there were those 11 years between Kirby 64 and Return to Dream Land. When ordering this list, I didn't pretend to know. I just did what I do best: side-by-side comparisons, without regard to release date or influence, while making an effort to try to list the biggest influences of those games that are generally favored. I felt bad about ranking Adventure at #9, being one of the most influential games in the series, but I also didn't see it very fair to rank it above that, because I just feel the other games made improvements and overall play better. I gave Super Star a similar treatment. Super Star did a lot for the series, but a lot of what it does is done better in Return to Dream Land. And I feel they continued to improve after that: Triple Deluxe goes crazy with the level design, Planet Robobot throws a mech suit on top of that, and Star Allies ties the series all together with its Dream Friends and series representation.

Looking back, I kinda regret starting this list. I feel it's made me seem like I'm bashing games I love to death. I love Dream Land 2. And Adventure. And Super Star. But the way I ordered these games just didn't let them get very high. So don't view this list as "worst to best". View this as "great to amazing".
 

Koops

Koops, King of Cowards.
In the contrary, dude. Being able to see the flaws in the game you love to death shows that you're not heavily biased towards certain entries.

I love FE to death but no single game in the series is perfect either. Kirby is the same. I haven't played nearly as much Kirby as you did but I can say that it seems like you speak as someone with real experience. If anything your lack of nostalgia is even better because it prevents you from unfairly favoring a game over the other (coincidentally I also only started playing FE last year).
 

winstein

Justice is not limited, it is a universal quality
I need to point out that it's refreshing to see a list that does not put Super Star (or Ultra) on a pedestal. Certainly Super Star is the game that many Kirby fans point to as the definitive one, but the other entries have things that I found to be better compared to what Super Star did, like for example, I found Super Star's graphical style to be generic compared to a number of entries (Kirby 3's art style left an impression on me when I first saw it, and that was after Super Star).

Thank you for reading.
 

Kersti

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Kirby: Planet Robobot


Kirby: Planet Robobot is the eleventh mainline game in the Kirby series, released for Nintendo 3DS in 2016, and the third game in the series directed by Shinya Kumazaki. The game is basically to Triple Deluxe what that game was to Return to Dream Land: same graphics, same gameplay engine, but level design turned up to 100. Remember when I said Triple Deluxe went really crazy with its level design? Planet Robobot goes absolutely nuts.

The first thing you'll notice is that, while its predecessor took more of a floral fantasy theme, this game goes for a technological theme. The premise? A multi-million-dollar megacorporation mechanizing the entire planet. Many of the bosses are roboticized forms of bosses Kirby's fought in the past. Oh yeah, and I should mention that the CEO of this company is literally named "Max Profitt". So yeah, anyway, this theme is incorporated heavily into the level design, with the main selling point being a mech suit known as the Robobot Armor. In addition to a total of 27 Copy Abilities (including three new ones, Doctor, ESP, and Poison, which are all interesting and fun to use and fit perfectly with the technological theme), the Robobot Armor expands Kirby's arsenal with 15 different modes based on certain Copy Abilities. Using the Robobot Armor feels gloriously powerful and satisfying, and you can destroy pretty much anything with just the push of a button. There's really no experience quite like it. In addition, 3D Warp Stars return from Triple Deluxe, and levels once again utilize two planes. When the Robobot Armor is combined with these 3D Warp Stars, absolute glorious chaos insues. Bosses are also less brutal about dwelling in the background, so Pyribbit is no more...in the main mode at least.

Like Triple Deluxe, two new in-depth sub-games are introduced. Team Kirby Clash is a multiplayer RPG-lite where a team of four Kirbys with four different roles battle a boss, gain experience, and grow stronger for the next boss. Kirby 3D Rumble is a 3D action game where Kirby must defeat waves of enemies in arena-like stages using nothing but the classic inhale. Both games got expanded standalone releases on the eShop as well, Team Kirby Clash Deluxe and Kirby's Blowout Blast, and the former is free-to-start as well, so check that out if you haven't already (its Switch sequel, Super Kirby Clash, is also free-to-start). The time attack mode sees the return of Meta Knightmare, fittingly titled Meta Knightmare Returns, which is very similar to Meta Knightmare Ultra from Kirby Super Star Ultra; while Meta Knight can't use the Robobot Armor, which is a bit of a shame, his moveset is still a blast to use. The Arena and The True Arena also return...but unless you happen to have a few amiibo on hand, good luck finding enough hours in your life to beat the latter.

The art style, as mentioned earlier, is pretty much identical to Triple Deluxe's, but with a technological theme. The soundtrack also takes a techno style, with many returning tracks getting some pretty awesome remixes in that style. Planet Robobot, like Super Star, is one of the biggest fan favorites in the franchise. It was a tough act to follow for sure, but one more game released two years later managed to do just that...

PROSCONS
Two-plane levels return and their use is even deeper and wackierUnless you have amiibo, The True Arena is absolutely grueling
Robobot Armor feels super satisfying to use, and it's an experience you can't get anywhere else
Sub-games feature deeper gameplay than most other installments, similar to Triple Deluxe
 

Kersti

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It's now April 27th in Japan! You know what that means?



Happy 28th birthday, Kirby! 28 years...man, that's quite an accomplishment! Something a Star Warrior should be proud of. To celebrate the occasion, perhaps now's a good time to revisit the ol' pink puff again, or perhaps download a Kirby game demo off the eShop if you still haven't tried one yet. Meanwhile, I present the grand finale of this list:

Kirby: Star Allies



Kirby: Star Allies is the twelfth and latest mainline game in the Kirby series, released for Nintendo Switch in 2018. It is very reminiscent of the cancelled Kirby for Nintendo GameCube, and features the four-person helper system advertised for that game. While the core game isn't very different from the three games that preceded it, there's a ton of new additions here that cement this as number 1.

To start, four new abilities are introduced: Artist, Spider, Staff, and Festival. Festival is nothing special as it's essentially a duplicate of Crash, Cook, and Mike, but Artist, Spider, and Staff are all a blast to use, with my personal favorite being Artist. Believe it or not, these new abilities bring the total ability count to 28, the most in the series yet. The selling point of the game is the same as the aforementioned Kirby for Nintendo GameCube: the helper system from Super Star returns, enhanced to support four players instead of two. Making helpers is absolutely seamless; all you have to do is press X to make Kirby throw a Friend Heart at an enemy, and just like that, the enemy joins your cause. In addition, Kirby can utilize Friend Abilities, which involve mixing two different abilities to make something more powerful. This includes adding elements to weapons, a concept that wasn't quite fully explored back in Squeak Squad. There's also Ice Curling (based on the Ice + Stone combo from Kirby 64), Geokinesis (by using ESP on Stone), and lots more. The possibilities are endless, and the game encourages mixing and matching your helpers to try them all. In addition, at certain points Kirby and his friends team up for one of four Friend Actions; think of this as Star Allies' equivalent to Super Abilities, Hypernova, and Robobot Armor. Friend Circle is essentially a mega romp that destroys everything, and like the Super Abilities, it's fun to watch but otherwise not all that deep. Friend Bridge allows Kirby and friends to form a bridge that enemies can cross, and is primarily used for puzzles. Friend Train is pretty fun to use, playing like a fast auto-platformer. But Friend Star is easily the most interesting of them all, allowing Kirby to fly freely through a stage and blast stars at anything he desires. The kind of ammo he gets changes based on his ability; for example, water stars can eliminate fires, while sword stars can cut through chains. It's a blast to use, and it's really used to its full potential, especially with a certain boss fought with it, where more than one ability is required to defeat it.

The general level design is pretty solid for the most part, and there are some parts where it shows the same brilliance as Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot. And it is kinda disappointing that this brilliance isn't nearly as prevalent here, and part of that is likely due to the fact that levels now only play on one plane, like in Return to Dream Land. However, the game makes up for it in several areas, with a ton of references to past Kirby games. Several abilities, such as Plasma, Yo-Yo, and Cleaning, make a return after having been absent for years. Pon and Con, the long-forgotten boss duo from Dream Land 3, make a return, as do the animal friends Nago, Pitch, and ChuChu, who cameo in the Cleaning ability. The Artist ability has lots of references to Kirby 64, with powers similar to those of Adeleine as well as the ability to paint Refrigerator Kirby. Heck, even the enemy Two-Face, who hasn't been seen since the original Kirby's Dream Land, shows up here out of nowhere! It's enough to make any Kirby nerd scream.

But believe it or not, none of that is why this game is at the top. You see, the game launched on March 16, 2018, but HAL was not done then. Throughout the year, new Dream Friends were released via updates. These Dream Friends were legacy characters from past Kirby games that were fully playable and could be recruited as Friend Helpers via Dream Palaces. It started out as simply King Dedede, Meta Knight, and Bandana Waddle Dee, the former two respectively representing Dream Land and Adventure, and the latter thrown in as a little extra because---surprise!--Waddle Dees have appeared in every single Kirby game to date. But these Dream Friends gradually grew into something kinda like the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate of the Kirby series. The first wave introduced the Animal Friends Rick, Kine, and Coo from Dream Land 2, Marx from Super Star, and Gooey from Dream Land 3. Wave 2 threw in Adeleine and Ribbon from Kirby 64, Dark Meta Knight from Amazing Mirror, and Daroach from Squeak Squad. And then Wave 3 tied it all up with Magolor from Return to Dream Land, Taranza from Triple Deluxe, and Susie from Planet Robobot, as well as Star Allies' own Three Mage-Sisters Francisca, Flamberge, and Zan Partizanne. These updates resulted in 13 total Dream Friends, all from legacy Kirby games and many of which were beloved characters with a long absence until this point, such as Gooey, Adeleine, and Ribbon. Several of them such as Marx, Magolor, and the Three Mage-Sisters are also an absolute blast to play.

And...this may come as a surprise, but this was actually my first Kirby game. Yes, I'd tried several demos of Kirby games in the past, but this was the first one I actually owned and played all the way through. And it was these very Dream Friends that showed me how vast Kirby's history was, and inspired me to go back and play the others. Every Dream Friend trailer they released set me off on a total hype train, not just because more playable characters, but because it was another chance to look into more of that history I'd missed out on. These Dream Friends are probably best enjoyed by someone who has past experience with to series, but to me, they were "man, I have got to go play these games!" Hence I am the Kirby nerd you know me to be.

Like you could expect from pretty much any Kirby game these days, there's a fair number of side modes here that will take a good chunk of your time. Guest Star ???? is a time attack mode similar to DededeTour and Meta Knightmare, although this time you can choose literally any Friend Helper to play the whole game through as. This includes Dream Friends too, and this could become DededeTour, Meta Knightmare, or Waddle Dee Riot if you so choose. Additionally, every Dream Friend added through an update has their own legacy levels from the Kirby game they represent. For example, Adeleine can play through remade Kirby 64 levels, while Magolor can play through remade Return to Dream Land levels. These extra levels give plenty of incentive to play through Guest Star mode as every Dream Friend, and as such add a lot of replay value to the game. The Ultimate Choice is a revamped version of The Arena, now with an adjustable intensity gauge, and those higher difficulties can pose a serious challenge, with the DLC-added Soul Melter EX difficulty being perhaps the toughest challenge Kirby has ever seen. Heroes in Another Dimension is an extra story campaign added in Wave 3, and what the level design was lacking in the Story Mode is fully made up for here, showing the same level of brilliance as Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot. Bosses here are seriously challenging, especially the last few, and there are also several areas where Kirby must utilize Friend Abilities in ways the Story Mode never utilized, and others where Dream Friends are used in unique ways. The mode is absolutely top-notch and definitely my favorite of the three, but all of them are probably the best postgame modes Kirby has seen yet. There's also the sub-games Star Slam Heroes and Chop Champs, and while they're fun multiplayer minigames, they're rather simplistic and just don't compare to the ones in Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot, nor do they have a whole lot of potential in a standalone Deluxe release.

Star Allies has been the subject of much debate within the Kirby fanbase, but I'm proud to say that I'm very much on the side that loves it. With a total of 38 playable characters, 28 Copy Abilities, three spectacular postgame modes, and tons of the purest Kirby tribute and love, you can tell that Star Allies was a game built to be the best. While the next Kirby game hasn't received an official announcement as of yet, HAL has teased it several times, stating that Star Allies has transitioned the series to its "next phase" and that the next game will be seen as "the pinnacle of the series". I'm excited to see what HAL has in store. Perhaps...a fully 3D Kirby game at long last? We'll just have to wait and see.

PROSCONS
4-player helper system concept returns, and is a lot of fun with friendsLevel design in Story Mode is somewhat lacking compared to its two predecessors
Dream Friends are full of wonderful tribute to Kirby's past
Three postgame modes are the best in the series yet

Thanks for reading, and have a happy April 27th!
 

Koops

Koops, King of Cowards.
28th? Wow, you made me realize that FE is actually two years older than Kirby, that's some interesting trivia!

Back to the topic at hand. Overall, I think your reasonings for ranking each game is reasonable and I actually agree with your choices. Personally I think Return to DreamLand is my favorite Kirby game, but I don't think I've played enough games to properly judge.

One thing that bothered me in Star Allies is that, like you said, level design is somewhat lacking in this game compared to others. Or I think the issue is more that the level design focuses too much on the game's gimmick. There's too many collectibles locked behind puzzles that require friends to solve. I just want to enjoy the game as Kirby when I'm playing alone but the game won't let me play normally! I simply MUST have allies at all times, and then they just dissect any boss that comes along like it's maggots on a corpse or something.

But anyhow, I agree that Dream Friends were a great idea and I'd love for this idea to return next game if reworked to not impede the overall experience.
 
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