Kirby Air Ride is a spin-off Kirby game that was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2003. It is a 3D racing game that features three modes: Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial, all of which are unique to one another. This games uses very simplistic controls, which are only the A button and the control stick. However, alternative controls, such as the L and R buttons can be used for boosting instead, but A is the default button.


This game was actually going to be released for the Nintendo 64, but was cancelled early in production. However, it was later revived as a GameCube game. The game was finally released in 2003. The game has also become a Player's Choice and a Best Seller, as seen on more recently-sold game cases of Kirby Air Ride.



Part of the game's intro

Kirby is seen racing against two Broom Hatters. He swallows a Heat Phan Phan and throws Fire on the ground, burning the two and killing them. Then some clips from the actual game are seen. Suddenly, two Sword Knights appear in front of Kirby. With his Sword, he slices the two, instantly killing them. Kirby then flies off a ledge, where Meta Knight is charging towards him, fading to white. Kirby, along with Yellow, Red, and Blue Kirby are then seen racing off into the distance.



The game's three modes

It is a racing game, that has 3 modes: Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial. It has many different Air Ride Machines, that can be ridden.

Besides Kirby, other characters could be unlocked and played as, by getting special marks in the Checklist. The game was designed to be simple, and uses only two buttons. Meta Knight and King Dedede, both unlockable characters, always have the same vehicle, and if they crash, they must uselessly inch on the ground.



Kirby performs a quick spin on a Compact Star!

The game uses very simple controls for the player to manuever their machines. The game requires the player to use just the A button and the control stick to manuever their machines. The machines will accelerate by itself, but holding down the A button will make the machines stop. As the machine stops, it fills the Boost Gauge, seen in the lower left hand side of the screen. After the Boost Gauge is nearly or completely filled, when released, the machine will gain a short boost. It is not recommended to boost several times, but rather during curves to slow down and get a boost. Some machines have very unique characteristics regarding boosting, such as using it to fuel or have no boost at all.

The player can quick-spin as a form of offense, by quickly rotating the control stick to the left and right. This is the primary way of attacking others. Ramming into other vehicles at high speeds will only damage the opponent in City Trial. The player may also use Copy Abilities, located either in enemies on the track in Air Ride or by finding copy panels in City Trial.


Kirby glides on a Jet Star.

Another feature of this game is gliding. Any vehicle can glide when it hits off a ramp or anything that sends the vehicle in the air. The player can control the gliding by moving around the control stick. The controls are in airplane controls; tilting up makes the machine go down, while tilting down makes the machine go up. The player may plummet down by holding down the A button towards the ground to stop gliding.

In City Trial mode only, the player has the option to jump out of his/her vehicle and find a new one to use. The player simply has to hold A and tilt down on the control stick to hop out of the machine. On foot, the player may run around and jump, plus having 5 extra jumps. After the player touches another machine, they will hop on the machine automatically. However, if the player happens to grab a certain amount of patches, Kirby will cough up some patches.

The C-stick in this game is used for rotating the camera to turn around the machine, so look back and see. However, the camera will stop at the diagonal facing Kirby. The C-stick can also be used for zooming in and zooming out of the player. In the Pause Screen, the player can rotate the camera in all directions, except underneath the ground and through the vehicle.

Machine Abilities

  • Top Speed: Top Speed is the highest speed a machine goes without stopping. The higher the top speed rating is, the faster the machine will go. It is essential to have this on relatively straight courses such as Drag Races and the Single Race course Nebula Belt.
  • Boost: Boost is another word for acceleration in this game. Boost is the amount of time it takes for the vehicle to reach its top speed. The higher the acceleration, the less time it takes for the machine to reach its top speed. Increasing boost also increases the speed given when releasing a charge.
  • Offense: This is basically the amount of damage the player can produce on contact with a vehicle. The higher the offense rating, the more damage the player can dish out. Offensive power is disregarded when Air Ride races don't have HP bars.
  • Defense: Defense is used for decreasing the amount of offensive power taken by the vehicle. The higher the defense, the less damage the machine will take from enemy attacks. Defense is disregarded on matches where there are no health bars in it.
  • Charge: Charge is the amount of time it takes to fill up the Boost Gauge. The more Charge power the vehicle has, the faster the Boost Gauge fills up for a boost.
  • Turn: Turn is how efficiently a vehicle can perform a turn. The more turning ability the machine has, the faster and tighter the turns it can handle.
  • Gliding: This is the amount of time the vehicle stays in the air. The more flight the machine has, the farther and higher the machine flies. However, Weight cancels out the gliding abilities.
  • Weight: Weight is the amount of bulk the vehicles have. The more weight a vehicle has, the more skidding the vehicle has. However, Gliding cancels out the skidding abilities.
  • HP: HP is how many hits the machine can take before getting destroyed, shown by the Damage Bar on the right part of the screen. On Air Ride matches with the Damage Gauge turned off, there is no Damage Gauge to represent how many hits a vehicle can take before getting destroyed. The more HP a machine has, the more hits it can take.

Character Info

  • Kirby
    • He is the default character and his speed depends on his vehicle. Kirby can be used in all three modes of the game. He can also use copy abilities and collect patches.
  • King Dedede
    • He is the most offensive character, having ten or eight health depending on how powerful the attack is. The king's weapon of choice is his hammer. Dedede also has the largest HP of the three. However, he is the heaviest out all three of them, making him quite a slow ride. King Dedede can only be used in the Free Ride mode of City Trial and Air Ride. The king cannot use copy abilities or collect patches.
  • Meta Knight
    • Meta Knight is a quick and powerful character. He is the fastest character in the game and uses his sword, Galaxia, to attack. However, he has very low defense and HP, so he can only take a few hits. Meta Knight can only be used in the Free Ride mode of City Trial and Air Ride. He cannot use copy abilities or collect patches.

Playable Characters

Note that the player can play in different colored King Dededes and Meta Knights as well as Kirbys. The King Dededes and Meta Knights will still get represented by the Kirby's color, for example, the second player's Meta Knight is green, but the background in the select screen is yellow.


Below are the three modes the player can choose while playing this game.

Name Description
Air Ride In Air Ride, players may choose a vehicle and race in 8 different courses, with a set amount of opposing racers the player may wish to choose. The player can not race alone. At first, the only option is the Warp Star, but as the player progresses, more machines will be available for use. The player may also wish to race in Time Attack, which is basically a race against time with as many laps as the player wishes, or Free Run, which a race against his/her best time.
Top Ride Players in Top Ride mode will race in an overhead 2D environment, with the same controls as Air Ride mode with the exception of gliding. Players must choose only Kirby and an option of two stars to use: the Free Star and the Steer Star in 7 courses. The player may also wish to either race against other players or race against time or himself/herself.
City Trial Players in this mode wander around in a large city with many different environments, to collect patches to power-up his/her machine to compete in the Stadiums after the time ends. The player has an option to abandon his/her machine if he/she wishes. Stadium is also an option to compete in as a mode in this mode. Free Run is just a wander around the city, with no time limits and unlimited machine use.

Kirby: Air Ride Machines

Machines in both Air Ride and City Trial


Severeal different types of machines in City Trial's Free Run.

Top Ride-only Machines

City Trial-only Machines


Courses (Air Ride)


Air Ride's course selection screen

Courses (Top Ride)


Top Ride's course selection screen



Numerous stadium events


  • This is the last Kirby game that the series creator, Masahiro Sakurai, would work on as part of HAL Laboratory. This was due to him publically critisizing Nintendo regarding circumstances during the development of the game. He would later return to work with HAL Laboratory to help develop Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • The US release was tied in to the first airing of the two Air Ride In Style episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!. As the episodes were originally made as part of the final storyline, fans complained about the discontinuity. Comic adaptations were also released around the same time in various Nintendo Power issues.
    • Music as well as the environmental settings from the anime were used in this game, as well.
  • Green Kirby is seen on a Wing Star on the spine of the boxart. Green Kirby is the only unlockable Kirby featured if one disregards Meta Knight.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl's main menu screen strikingly resembles Air Ride's, and therefore might have been based off this game.
  • The menu also has the same sound effects for selecting something as Super Smash Bros. Melee.
  • One of the machines in Kirby Air Ride, the Dragoon, also appears in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. It is a deadly weapon and instant KO if it hits the other players.
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