|Play wild mini-races from a top-down perspective!|
— Main Menu caption
Top Ride is one of the three game modes in Kirby Air Ride. It is considerably simpler than the other two, being a short racing game set with an overhead perspective on small courses. Unlike the other two modes, there is no split-screen, instead allowing all players to see their racers on a single screen.
Control is similar to the other two modes, but with some key aspects removed to match the simplicity of the courses. The control stick is used to steer Kirby's machine and perform Quick Spins, while the A button is used to charge, then Boost and use certain items. There is no Gliding or Inhaling.
|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. It is the default machine for use, unless the player switches which star he/she wants to use.|
|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.|
CPUs can be set to use either machine, but this will not affect their performance in any fashion.
|View this lighthearted 2-D race from above as you pick up items and react to crazy course events!|
— Kirby Air Ride North American instruction booklet, page 7
There are seven courses to play in this mode, all available at the start. They are as follows:
|Courses in Top Ride|
|Grass||7||A simple clockwise course with a few bends. Obstacles include Boost Panels and Bomb Trees.|
|Sand||7||A clockwise course with two bridges on the top side and a couple pits. The left pit contains Ant Doom, which might gobble up racers. The lower right bridge made of teeth breaks permanently after a few times used.|
|Sky||6||A clockwise course consisting of two circular islands connected by thin bridges. The left island can be made to move by pressing a knob, while the larger right one spins in either direction based on the wind.|
|Fire||6||A clockwise course on a very wavy path. Spewing vents and erupting craters can be found here.|
|Light||6||A counterclockwise course on a hexagonal board in deep space. Three light rails turn on and off at random, which can be used as shortcuts.|
|Water||5||A counterclockwise course set on a rocky shoreline, with two rivers cutting through. The rolling ocean waves and waterfalls can slow down racers, with the latter also removing items.|
|Metal||5||A counterclockwise course set in a machine-laden area. Gadgets can be activated and gears made to spin by means of racer interaction.|
There are a total of 21 different items that can be used in Top Ride. These items are unique to this mode, though three of them need to first be unlocked by meeting objectives in the Checklist. They are as follows:
(Note the 'Removable?' category refers to whether or not the item can be shaken off using a Quick Spin)
|Items in Top Ride|
|Big Cake||Makes Kirby and his machine big, allowing him to flatten any foes he touches, and also allows resistance to certain effects.|
|Charge Tank||Places an engine on the machine, which allows Kirby to instantly perform a full power Boost.|
|Bomb||Allows Kirby to toss up to 6 bombs forward, knocking about any opponents they hit.|
|Booster||Places a jet on the back of Kirby's machine, greatly increasing its speed.|
|Buzz Saw||Equips Kirby's machine with two buzz saws, allowing him to catch and launch enemies to the side of him.|
|Drag Tire||Places a heavy grey tire on the back of Kirby's machine, causing it to slow down. Can be passed to other racers by bumping into them.|
|Drill||Equips Kirby's machine with a drill, allowing him to attack and launch enemies in front of him.|
|Fire||Equips Kirby's machine with a flamethrower, allowing him to leave a trail of flame behind him which can trip up opponents.|
|Freeze Fan||Equips Kirby's machine with a freezing fan, which can freeze enemies in front.|
|Hammer||A swinging hammer appears on the machine, which knocks about nearby opponents.|
|Invincible Candy||Makes Kirby and his machine invulnerable to all attacks for a short time.|
|Kracko Orb||Summons Kracko, who will target random opponents and zap them, causing them to stop in their tracks momentarily. Can zap 1-4 times.|
|Missile||Shoots out a homing missile which will race around the course until it finds an opponent to crash into, causing them to be knocked about.|
|Party Ball||Causes a party ball to appear, then release a large number of other items onto the race track.|
|Smokescreen||Places a smoke generator on Kirby's machine, which releases thick smoke behind him. This smoke will cause any who enter to lose control.|
|Spinner||Equips Kirby's machine with dual rings on the sides, causing Kirby to perform an extended Quick Spin whenever he Boosts.|
|Spring Mine||Allows Kirby to place a spring-loaded trap on the course, marked only by a tiny dot. When a racer goes over it, the trap activates, knocking them away.|
|Walky||Kirby shouts into the mike, causing the other racers to lose control for a moment.|
|Chickie||Causes the other racers to become dizzy, becoming unable to steer straight for a while.|
|Lantern||Darkens the whole race course, leaving light only around the racer who grabbed the item.|
|Who? Paint||Makes all racers invisible and removes their name markers for a moment.|
Modes and Settings
There are three primary modes in Top Ride. They are as follows:
- Top Ride - Play the courses normally, with human opponents or CPU.
- Free Run - Play each course solo with no obstacles or items.
- Time Attack - Play 5 laps solo with obstacles and specific items dropping.
Additionally, there are a number of settings that can be changed when playing the standard Top Ride mode. These are as follows:
- Laps - Change the number of laps that are ran (1 - 99).
- Items - Change the frequency of item drops (unlockable in Checklist).
- Speed Help - Adjust the speed boost of racers who fall behind.
- Camera - Change the camera to zoom in based on racer position, or stay fixed.
- Game Tempo - Change the speed of the game.
- Course Selection - Change how the courses are selected.
- Camera Angle - Change the angle from which the camera views the race (unlockable in Checklist)
- Features - Change the frequency and severity of course features
- Items - Change the type of items that appear (unlockable in Checklist)
- Main article: Checklist (Top Ride)
Like the other game modes, Top Ride has a Checklist, with 120 unique objectives to meet. Most of these revolve around meeting certain times, using certain items, and racing under certain conditions. Most of what is unlockable from the Checklist are music tracks, bonus settings, and new items.
- There is an unused item intended for Top Ride, referred to in the file data as 'UsiroYurerun'. It is unknown what purpose this item would have served in gameplay.