Kirby Air Ride

From WiKirby, your independent source of Kirby knowledge.
Jump to navigationJump to search
Kirby Air Ride

Kirby Air Ride boxart.png

KAR PC box art.jpg

KAR Japanese box art.png

Box art of Kirby Air Ride from various regions
Developer(s) HAL Laboratory
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Masahiro Sakurai
Release date(s) Japan July 11, 2003
NA October 13, 2003
Europe February 20, 2004
Australia March 30, 2004
Platform(s) Nintendo GameCube
Rating(s) ESRB: ESRB E.png - Everyone
PEGI: PEGI 3+.png - 3+
CERO: CERO A.png - All ages
Game chronology
Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
On partnered sites
StrategyWiki Walkthrough
 This box: view  talk  edit 
This article is about the racing game released on GameCube in 2003. For information on the canceled Nintendo 64 precursor, see Kirby's Air Ride (Nintendo 64). For a related sub-game from Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, see Kirby's Air Grind.

Kirby Air Ride is a spin-off title released for the Nintendo GameCube, being the only Kirby game released for that system. It is a multiplayer racing game that takes place in full 3-D environments, involving one or more Kirbys riding various means of transportation - from Warpstars to Wheelie Bikes - through colorful and abstract courses. Using only the analog stick and the A button, the player can guide Kirby both on the ground and in the air with a surprisingly complex number of maneuvers to master, in addition to making use of Kirby's signature inhale and Copy Ability to gain an advantage over the other racers. Depending on the game mode and settings, a large number of items and objects can also be made use of to affect the outcome of races.

There are three main game modes in Kirby Air Ride which each offer their own unique experience. In addition, a LAN adapter can be utilized to allow up to 4 players to play on different screens using multiple copies of the game and multiple Gamecubes. Otherwise, the game can be played split-screen with up to 4 players, or with CPU opponents.


All three modes feature the same simplified control scheme, in that only the control stick and the A button are required for normal play. Kirby's vehicle (referred to in-game as an "Air Ride Machine") will in most cases move forward automatically, so the control stick is used to steer, both on the ground, and in the air while Gliding. The control stick can also be used to perform a Quick Spin, which is done by quickly tapping left and right together. The A button, when held, will cause Kirby's machine to brake, which builds up power in the form of charging. When this power is at its full extent, releasing the A button causes Kirby to Boost which - depending on the machine - will cause the vehicle to instantly boost speed by a certain amount (or none at all). This is useful for handling tight corners, but not so much when racing in a straight line. There are a large variety of Air Ride Machines to choose from, and each one has its own unique method of control, along with certain advantages and drawbacks. More details on these machines can be found in the "Machines" section below.

In addition to his machine, Kirby himself has powers the player can make use of when racing. When near a suitable enemy on the course, tapping A quickly will cause Kirby to inhale it. If it was an ability-bearing foe, Kirby will gain a Copy Ability which he can use to attack his rivals or gain some other advantage. Otherwise, he will spit out the enemy as a Star Bullet which can home in on other enemies or players. Depending on the ability acquired, Kirby may gain a new way to attack his opponents, or may eschew his machine to race in an entirely new manner. However, all of these abilities are temporary, and after a predetermined amount of time, Kirby will return to his normal form. Tapping A quickly can also be used to activate Dash Panels on the ground, or to interact with other floor objects, though tapping A is not required when riding a wheeled machine.

In City Trial, it is possible for Kirby to jump off of his machine if the player holds down A, then taps down on the control stick. While on foot, Kirby can run around and jump, with his characteristic Hovering ability allowing him 5 consecutive jumps in the air before he has to come down again, similar to his limit in the Super Smash Bros. games. While off a vehicle, Kirby cannot collect items, interact with objects, or attack his foes. He will need to find a new vehicle, which he can jump onto simply by approaching it.


Kirby Air Ride has three different modes. All vary in technique and gameplay but use the same basic controls. Unlike in most other Kirby titles, there is no Story Mode to follow in any of these modes, so filling each mode's Checklist serves as the main method of progression instead. Once a Checklist is sufficiently filled, the player gains access to an "Ending" movie, signifying that they have "completed" that mode.

Air Ride[edit]

Main article: Air Ride
Air Ride racing in Nebula Belt.

Air Ride is the main mode of the game, and involves straightforward racing in full 3-D environments. When first starting this game mode, players may only make use of the Warpstar - a recognizable and well-balanced racing machine good for learning the basics - but will naturally unlock more machines to race with as the Checklist is filled. Also unlockable are Meta Knight and King Dedede, who cannot make use of copy abilities but have their own distinct powers instead. There are a total of nine courses to choose from, though the final one needs to be unlocked. All courses, except for Fantasy Meadows, have 2 laps in default (in the case of Fantasy Meadows, 3), but the player can adjust the number of laps, as well as other options, using the game settings.

As might be expected, the main goal of Air Ride mode is to win the race by making the best use of Kirby and his machine's capabilities. The Checklist encourages the player to do this under varying conditions, mainly by setting time goals for each course and setting, in addition to providing some more eclectic challenges such as using a specific machine, finishing the race with a specific ability, or interacting with specific course devices. In addition to the main competitive racing mode, Air Ride also features a Time Attack and Free Run mode, which allows the player to try and optimize courses to gain the best possible time.


Courses in Air Ride  
Course Description Notes
A good starting track and by far the shortest, this course takes place in a vibrant grassy plain and features a basic elongated hoop-shaped path that goes through a short cave before looping back to the start. This is the only Air Ride course that defaults to three laps instead of two.
A meandering long course that rides through a moonlit canyon filled with water and exotic plants. This course features some branching paths, rails, and bottomless pits, as well as a Copy Chance Wheel hidden in a high alcove.
A compact course taking place in a floating sandy ruin amidst a fossilized coral reef. There are a few hidden passageways and moving platforms, along with some air lifts.
A lengthy course that takes place in a floating arctic region amidst the aurora. This course features many tunnels and tubes, along with a long rail section and many boosters.
A complex course set within an active volcanic region. It features many branching paths that re-converge shortly after taking them.
A sharply-angled course set in a large futuristic mechanical complex. It features many hazards, boost panels, and a large cannon as part of the course.
A winding course with great verticality and lots of rails set high in the sky among towering green plants.
The longest course in the game, set in an abstract castle setting and featuring many turns, rails, and shortcuts.
A long figure-8-style course set in an outer space setting. There are no enemies and very few obstacles in this course, instead being peppered with ramps and Copy Chance Wheels. This course is the only one that needs to be unlocked before it can be played. To unlock it, over 100 laps must be completed in the other courses.

Top Ride[edit]

Main article: Top Ride
Kirbys racing in Grass

Top Ride is the simplest mode in the game, which - like Air Ride - revolves on racing, though this time with an overhead view and less vehicular variety. Tracks in this mode are considerably shorter and smaller than those in Air Ride, due to the overhead capability, and each consist of a simple elemental theme. Copy Abilities cannot be used in this mode, but there are items that, at regular intervals, fall on the course that can help or hinder the racers. The game can also be tweaked using different settings and has its own Checklist to fill out.


Courses in Top Ride  
Course Description Notes
A simple course in a grassy setting that features a few dash panels and two bomb-yielding trees. The default number of laps is 7.
A dry desert loop course that features Ant Doom on one side and a crumbling bridge made of teeth on the other. The default number of laps is 7.
A stony course set high in the sky which features many moving platforms that can be toggled on and off. The default number of laps is 6.
A wobbly course set in an active volcano that features steaming fumaroles and occasional eruptions of lava. The default number of laps is 6.
A hexagonal course set in outer space which features light-rail shortcuts that turn on and off intermittently. The default number of laps is 6.
A long stony course set on an ocean shoreline featuring lots of moving water. The default number of laps is 5.
A complex course set amidst heavy machinery that features lots of toggles to activate fans, gears, and other moving hazards. The default number of laps is 5.

City Trial[edit]

Main article: City Trial
City Trial gameplay

The most extensive and unorthodox mode in the game, City Trial does not focus solely on racing, unlike Air Ride and Top Ride. Instead, racers roam around in a large and open sandbox-like environment, collecting patches to power-up their machine, and then compete in the Stadium with other opponents when time runs out in the city. By default, which Stadium mode appears at the end is randomized, so racers will have to find and patch a machine that suits their particular playstyle and, with luck, will be useful in the final contest. To this end, racers can abandon their vehicles in order to find a new one better suited to their needs, though doing so exposes them to potentially have their patches stolen by rivals. As time passes in the city, events can happen at random, either hindering or helping racers' progress.

While roaming through the city, players can come across various items aside from patches which they can use to recover HP, gain a temporary bonus, or attack rivals with. Often, these items can be found inside boxes that need to be broken using a quick spin or boost, or by simply driving into them with enough force. Six of these boxes in particular can contain Legendary Machine parts which, when assembled, allows Kirby to obtain either the super-soaring Dragoon, or the nigh-indomitable Hydra. These two machines do not appear in any other game mode, and - depending on the Stadium being played - offer an enormous advantage to whoever can assemble them, so competition over the parts is often intense.

Copy Abilities[edit]

Like most Kirby games, Copy Abilities are available for Kirby's use. However, unlike most other Kirby games, all copy abilities are only temporary or one use. They are obtained by eating certain enemies or, if in City Trial or in the Stadiums; Destruction Derby and Vs. King Dedede, collecting Copy Panels[1]. There are a total of eleven copy abilities in the game.

Copy Abilities in Kirby Air Ride  
Copy Ability Name Description
BombPanel.png Bomb A bomb appears on Kirby's hands. The farther the player holds A, the farther Kirby throws it. The explosion does small damage but covers a large radius that slowly increases in size until it disappears.
FirePanel.png Fire This ability allows Kirby to toss fireballs that stay on the ground. It damages any opponent that drives over the flames. The Fire ability also makes Kirby's body damaging to touch.
FreezePanel.png Freeze When Kirby obtains this ability, he is able to create a surrounding, short-ranged projectile of Ice that protects himself and freezes other enemies that touch it.
MikePanel.png Mike The Mike ability gets activated automatically when Kirby obtains it. Kirby sings and does slight damage to anyone over a huge range.
NeedlePanel.png Needle Not too different from the Freezing ability, the Needle ability allows Kirby to extend Needles that protect him and damage any opponent near the spikes. It can also damage when Kirby simply touches opponents without activating the ability.
PlasmaPanel.png Plasma Very much like in Kirby Super Star, Kirby can charge up his energy levels when the player wiggles the control stick back and forth. This ability lasts depending on how much the player uses it and how much power it uses up.
  • Level 1: Kirby punches several small beams
  • Level 2: Kirby punches more small beams
  • Level 3: Kirby shoots out three, straight moving sparks
  • Level 4: Kirby shoots out a single, homing spark
  • Level 5: Kirby kicks a huge, homing ball of electricity
SleepPanel.png Sleep The Sleep ability causes Kirby to sleep, which makes him lose control of his vehicle and makes other opponents fall asleep if they touch him. He can be woken up quicker if the player wiggles the control stick back and forth.
SwordPanel.png Sword The Sword ability lets Kirby automatically swing his sword at any nearby opponents.
TornadoPanel.png Tornado The Tornado ability grants Kirby a powered up quick spin that can be performed mid-air. When Kirby first gets this ability, any nearby opponent gets affected by the start-up attack.
WheelPanel.png Wheel This copy ability turns Kirby into a wheel. It is quite fast, touches the ground so it activates any switches on the ground, and damages any opponents that touch it.
WingPanel.png Wing When Kirby gets the Wing ability, he temporarily loses his vehicle and flies using the ability. His quick spin is slightly different than the regular quick spin; it sends opponents flying in the air. Opponents cannot draft him, but he cannot draft opponents either when he has this ability.


There are a total of sixteen Air Ride Machines to choose from in Kirby Air Ride, not including the machines used in Top Ride mode. In Air Ride mode, all but the Warp Star must be unlocked, in order to be used. As for City Trial, racers start out with the Compact Star and must find the vehicle they want in the city, before they can use it. The vehicles may or may not be available at times, and they can appear in different spots in the city. Racers can then hop off their current vehicle, and ride on another.

Standard machines in Kirby Air Ride  
Machine Name Description Mode(s)
KAR Warpstar Small.png Warpstar The Warp Star is the most balanced machine in Kirby Air Ride. It is the default machine in Air Ride mode before the player unlocks anything. Just as with balanced machines, this machine has no major flaws or advantages. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Compact Star Small.png Compact Star The Compact Star is a star that is exclusive to City Trial, and all of its modes. The Compact Star mainly has all-around stats, but trades speed for control. It also has somewhat low HP compared to most other machines. This is also the default machine if players play the main game in City Trial. City Trial
KAR Turbo Star Small.png Turbo Star The Turbo Star has great top speeds, but its handling takes time to get used to. It also does not have great battling capabilities, such as HP and offense. This unusual machine also charges up very slowly when not in motion, but charges up quickly when stopping the motion. Conversely, this machine turns very quickly when not in motion, but not when it is. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Formula Star Artwork.png Formula Star The Formula Star is a vehicle with very high top speeds, but poor handling and acceleration, which makes it a likely candidate for Drag Races only. It also has poor gliding, poor charging, and poor battling capabilities. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Slick Star Small.png Slick Star The Slick Star is a polarizing machine with above-average charging and gliding, though it takes some skill to use effectively, as it is incapable of turning while grounded unless a boost is used, and will not slow down while charging. It boasts superb boost and speed but is extremely light and not good at battling. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Swerve Star Small.png Swerve Star This lightning-quick machine boasts the ability to accelerate immediately to its top speed from a standstill. However, it cannot turn unless it is charging or gliding, with the former case bringing it to an immediate stop, meaning it cannot effectively use boost pads. Mastery of this machine makes it one of the most formidable in the game despite its drawbacks, especially in City Trial. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Wagon Star Small.png Wagon Star The Wagon Star cannot charge; stopping the vehicle merely halts the vehicle in a spot, without the gauge meter filling. To make up for the lack of that ability, it has mostly above average stats and excellent HP. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Bulk Star Small.png Bulk Star This machine uses charge energy as fuel; when the charge gauge is empty, the vehicle is unable to move on its own. The Bulk Star is very heavy, with great battling capabilities, and can even go at very high top speeds if patched properly in City Trial. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Shadow Star Small.png Shadow Star The Shadow Star has excellent offensive, acceleration, and gliding stats. However, it has low defenses, especially HP, making it easy for other machines to take it down. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Winged Star Small.png Winged Star The Winged Star is a fairly slow machine but has a superb gliding ability. However, it performs poorly when it comes to battling other machines and is very light. All other stats are around average. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Rocket Star Small.png Rocket Star The Rocket Star has a very poor top speed, but has a massive charge boost that sends it propelling at very high speeds. However, it charges relatively slowly, which is another drawback. This machine excels in Drag Races and other scenarios with plentiful boost pads and relatively few obstacles. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Jet Star Small.png Jet Star The Jet Star is a relatively average machine with notably poor gliding ability. However, whenever it hits the air, a huge burst of speed sends it propelling forward, and when it makes a good landing, another burst of speed follows. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Wheelie Bike Small.png Wheelie Bike The Wheelie Bike always hits the ground with a single wheel, unlike the other machines based on stars. It has average stats mostly everywhere, with its only real drawback being its inability to glide, making jumps off of ramps instead. Due to it being on the ground, it automatically hits boosts without needing to brake. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Wheelie Scooter Small.png Wheelie Scooter This machine has very low top speeds, but very high handling, charging, and acceleration stats. It also gains speed when it drives off of ramps, drives over boosts, or drives over rails. However, it has very low battling capabilities. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Rex Wheelie Small.png Rex Wheelie The Rex Wheelie has handling that takes time to get used to, but due to its large size and weight, it has superb battling capabilities. It does not have great gliding or acceleration either, but it has fairly high top speeds. Air Ride
City Trial
KAR Flight Warpstar Small.png Flight Warpstar Exclusive to Free Run mode in City Trial, the Flight Warpstar is merely a Warp Star with enhanced gliding capabilities. According to the bio in the instruction booklet, it states that the machine is good practice with gliding. City Trial, Free Run Only

Legendary Machines[edit]

Legendary machines only appear in City Trial Mode. In the main mode, they can only be found after assembling machine parts, found in certain red boxes scattered across the city. When all 3 parts are collected, the machine automatically forms, replacing the machine Kirby is riding on. In Free Run mode, once the player has unlocked all 3 parts for each machine, Kirby can use them whenever he wants.

Legendary machines in Kirby Air Ride  
Machine Name Description
KAR Dragoon Small.png Dragoon This legendary machine is extremely speedy with very high acceleration. Its main advantage is its excellent gliding, where it can reach 80 miles per hour in the air. Due to its weight however, it is not easily controlled, and it has only average battle capabilities.
KAR Hydra Small.png Hydra This legendary machine has extreme battle stats, and it can withstand constant blows from other machines. However, it runs similarly to a Bulk Star; it uses charge energy as fuel. However, it takes much longer to charge up. When fully charged, the Hydra can travel at speeds as fast as 124 miles per hour, and it slowly takes up charge fuel, so the Hydra does not need to be constantly charged.

Top Ride Machines[edit]

In Top Ride Mode, there are only two machines available that are exclusive for this mode. Other than their appearance, the two machines' only difference is their control options.

Top Ride machines in Kirby Air Ride  
Machine Name Description
KAR Free Star Small.png Free Star The Free Star is a machine that turns in the direction the control stick is faced, no matter what direction it is facing. This is the default machine in this mode.
KAR Steer Star Small.png Steer Star The Steer Star is a machine that turns only when the left and right directions get pushed on the control stick, like a normal star.


  • Kirby - The default character, able to ride various machines and use his copy ability.
  • King Dedede - An unlockable character who can be selected on the machines menu. He rides a custom Wheelie Bike and can smack his foes with his hammer.
  • Meta Knight - An unlockable character who can be selected on the machines menu. He flies through courses on his wings and can attack opponents with his sword, making him effectively a permanent combination of the Wing and Sword abilities.

List of available Kirby colors[edit]

By default, players can choose between pink, yellow, blue, and red Kirby, though no two players can be the same color. Each game mode allows up to four additional colors to be unlocked; those being green, purple, brown, and white Kirby. These colors are unlocked separately in each game mode, and can also be applied to King Dedede and Meta Knight.




Kirby Air Ride features a moderately-sized cast of enemies, who mostly serve as fodder on race tracks or as simple obstacles. While enemies are not as central to gameplay as they are in other Kirby games, there are some unique faces here that cannot be seen in any other game. They are as follows:

Enemies in Kirby Air Ride  
Enemy Ability Description Notes
Ant Doom N/A A big-jawed worm-like monster that occupies the pit on the left side of the Sand course in Top Ride mode. It cannot be defeated, and will capture and slow down any racers who draw too close, though it does not actually harm them.
Balloon Bomber Bomb A floating black bomb zeppelin that slowly drifts forward on Air Ride courses.
Bronto Burt None A flying pink menace who often travels with other Bronto Burts.
Broom Hatter None A faceless hat-wearing creature who can be seen flying on a broomstick in courses.
Caller Tornado A segmented creature that creates a small tornado to keep its body aloft.
Cappy None A mushroom-like entity that hops in place on various courses. If Kirby tries to inhale it, he will get its cap first, which is spat separately from the Cappy itself.
Chilly Freeze A living snowman who wears a fez and can be seen patrolling various areas in courses.
Dale None A large round glowing creature who is often found in dark places. It can release glowing spores when defeated which are dangerous to touch.
Dyna Blade N/A A gigantic metal-winged bird that can appear during a specific event in City Trial and trample racers. Hitting her head will yield items for Kirby, but touching her anywhere else will deal big damage. The game incorrectly refers to Dyna Blade as a "he".
Flappy Wing A fuzzy pterosaur-like creature that can be seen flying slowly forward in courses.
Gordo N/A A floating spike ball who cannot be defeated, and so should be avoided. Also appears as an offensive item in City Trial (referred to in-game as a "Gold Spike").
Heat Phanphan Fire A flying elephant-like creature with a flamethrower snout.
Noddy Sleep A small round creature with a nightcap that can be found sleeping on the course.
Pichikuri Needle A bulbous round creature covered in spines that floats through the air.
Plasma Wisp Plasma A green creature made of electricity with two disembodied hands which can be found floating in parts of courses.
Scarfy N/A A deceptively cute hovering enemy that turns into a cycloptic demon if Kirby tries to inhale it.
Sword Knight Sword A knight clad in green armor who rides a hoverboard and will try to attack Kirby with his sword.
Tac N/A An item thief who appears during a specific event in City Trial. Kirby needs to hunt him down and ram him to get the items he has.
Waddle Dee None A hapless fuzzy little creature who can be seen either on foot or riding a mine cart. The ones on foot will panic and try to run out of the way of oncoming racers.
Walky Mike An anthropomorphic desk mike who can be seen singing on courses.
Wheelie Wheel A living wheel enemy who rides along courses, often in formation with other Wheelies.


Main article: Checklist

Each game mode has a Checklist, which consists of 120 objectives each. Completing at least 100 is necessary to 'complete' the game mode and unlock a special movie for it, which often includes the credits.

Crossover with Kirby: Right Back at Ya![edit]

Various Air Ride Machines can be seen ridden by the eponymous "Air Riders" in the final episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!.

Due to concurrent development periods, the last five episodes of the anime series Kirby: Right Back at Ya! feature elements from Kirby Air Ride, in the form of the Air Riders who pilot some of the Air Ride Machines seen in the game. These include the Winged Star, Rocket Star, Formula Star, and Shadow Star, though their performance in the anime does not quite align with the game versions. Aside from these enemies, Kirby himself also rides these machines, particularly making use of a Winged Star to traverse eNeMeE's Fortress when his own Warp Star is damaged and recovering.

Likewise, Kirby Air Ride features elements from the anime series, most notably several of its musical arrangements, which come directly from the Japanese version of the show. Great Sage Kabu from the anime also cameos as part of the background decoration in the Water course in Top Ride mode.



Main article: Kirby Air Ride/gallery


Official Kirby Portal video showcasing Air Ride Machines

Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese カービィのエアライド
Kābi no Ea Raido
Kirby's Airride
French Kirby Air Ride -
German Kirby Air Ride -
Italian Kirby Air Ride -
Spanish Kirby Air Ride -

External links[edit]


  1. Name taken from Kirby Air Ride North American instruction booklet, page 28