Kirby (カービィ, Kirby) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. He was confirmed on June 11th, 2013 during the E3 2013 Nintendo Direct. He was also among the first wave of amiibo figures that are compatible with SSB4. Kirby is again voiced by Makiko Ōmoto, who provided new voice clips that changed Kirby's inflections somewhat compared to the previous games in the series.
Kirby ranks 41st out of 58 on the tier list, placing him in the F tier. This is a vast downturn for Kirby, as he was a mid-tier character in Brawl where he ranked 20th out of 38. Kirby possesses a great combo game, courtesy of his up tilt and his up aerial's excellent juggling potentials, as well as good frame data throughout most of his moveset. Despite his size, Kirby also has great KO potential due to his powerful up throw and guaranteed KO set-ups off of his down aerial on floatier characters. His crouch is also very useful, allowing him to avoid many moves from a variety of characters, along with a number of grabs from taller characters.
However, Kirby retains many of his flaws from Brawl, the most notable of which is his poor survivability as a result of his floatiness and extremely light weight. When this is coupled with his predictable recovery, Kirby is left prone to either getting KO'd off of the blast zones early or being edgeguarded early. His mobility is also poor, leaving him prone to being zoned out by many characters, though his crouch can help alleviate some pressure against projectiles that are not affected by gravity. Lastly, Kirby's range has also been nerfed, due to his feet becoming smaller. Because of these flaws, Kirby is seen by some as a below average character in SSB4, although his tournament representation is average and he has even achieved a few results at top-level tournaments courtesy of MikeKirby and K.I.D. Goggles.
As in previous installments, Kirby is a small lightweight, being tied for the fifth lightest character in the game. This is also reflected in his mobility, which is poor; he has a slow walking speed, average dashing speed, the fourth slowest falling speed, the third lowest gravity, the fourth lowest air speed, below average traction and average air acceleration. Despite having the second lowest jumps, he can jump a total of six times, making up for that flaw.
Kirby's greatest strength is the versatility of his moveset. Almost all of Kirby's moves are characterized by speed, and those that are not have very high power instead. Neutral attack and forward tilt are fast and have decent range, allowing Kirby to quickly fend off opponents. Up tilt is notorious for its combo capabilities, being very quick and having the ability to consistently combo into itself or an aerial attack. Down tilt is very fast, with its very low power being compensated by the Sakurai angle, allowing it to trip opponents even at percents as high as 270%. His smash attacks have good range and high power while not being particularly slow, making them excellent at ending an opponent's stock. His aerial game is also powerful and all of his aerials have less than 18 frames of landing lag. Neutral aerial lasts for a long amount of time, and its very low landing lag grants Kirby a lot of protection and allows him to take full advantage of buffering. Forward aerial is powerful, chains fluidly and can allow additional follow-ups at low percents. Up aerial has vertical knockback, low landing lag and has a good amount of autocanceling frames, allowing many potential follow-ups. Back aerial has decent range, lasts for a decent amount of time and is Kirby's fastest and strongest aerial, making it a very good all-purpose aerial attack. Lastly, down aerial, has slow start-up, but drags opponents downward before meteor smashing them, making it a deceptively powerful edgeguarding tool. In addition, it is an effective combo starter with guaranteed follow-ups on grounded opponents.
Kirby's grab game is also useful. His grabs are either fast or have good range, making up for the lack of the other. Despite dealing little damage, his pummel is very fast, allowing Kirby to rack up damage quickly. His forward throw, notorious in Brawl for its highly damaging combo options at 0%, has been improved even further, now possessing follow-ups even at medium percents, including down aerial to re-grab. Back throw can be followed up by a back aerial at 0% on certain characters, tech-chase fast-fallers and KO at high percents. Up throw is his strongest throw and is able to KO almost all characters at 170%, or even earlier if it lands on a platform. Lastly, down throw is reliable for damage racking when no other throw can yield better results.
Kirby's special moveset has some interesting options. Inhale allows him to either copy the neutral special move of any character he Inhales, or spit them out as a weight-dependent projectile. The latter can be used to Kirbycide or put the opponent below the stage, almost eliminating their chances of recovering. The former, depending on what character he Inhales, can give Kirby a move that provides some assistance (Falcon Punch and Homing Attack) or massive benefits (Monado Arts and Needle Storm). Hammer is extremely powerful, especially when fully charged. Its low speed, however, makes it very difficult to use outside of edgeguarding or after a shield break. Final Cutter is Kirby's primary move for recovery and is decent at that, granting good vertical and horizontal distance, as well as decent protection on the way up and on the way down. It also releases a shockwave upon landing, making it difficult to punish if not at point-blank range. Lastly, Stone causes Kirby to plummet straight down and ignore damage by any move that deals less than 30%. It is also very strong and can be canceled at any time, making it useful for playing mindgames.
However, Kirby has noticeable flaws. As mentioned, Kirby has poor mobility, giving him significant trouble approaching and pressuring opponents. It also gives him trouble against fast characters (such as Sonic) or those with disjointed hitboxes (like Marth). In addition, despite being very long, his recovery is extremely slow, making aggressive edgeguarding and gimp-oriented moves (such as F.L.U.D.D. or meteor smashes) detrimental to him. Kirby's range is also mediocre at best, and his strongest moves happen to be his slowest, making it difficult for him to KO opponents outside of edgeguarding or without a set-up. His most prominent weakness, however, is his endurance. Being light and floaty, Kirby cannot survive strong hits at high percents. He is also very vulnerable to juggling, due to the aforementioned slow falling speed and slow air speed. The introduction of rage further compounds these issues, as Kirby will get sent flying even earlier, and will usually not last long enough to take advantage of it.
Kirby benefits significantly from his custom moves. Jumping Inhale is slower and lacks the vacuum, but moves Kirby forward, often putting opponents at very bad positions. With Ice Breath, he cannot copy abilities from opponents but he can freeze opponents for a time and is great for edgeguarding, as most recoveries will run straight into Kirby's breath, freezing them. Hammer Bash is almost identical to Hammer in Brawl, being much faster and, due its vertical knockback, almost as powerful, at the cost of the default's immense strength. Giant Hammer is slower than regular Hammer Flip but it is the most powerful custom move in the game without equipment and grants armor. Wave Cutter does not allow Kirby to hit when rising, but the move is overall faster, the descending hitbox is more powerful and the shockwave has more range and can pressure shields. Upper Cutter immediately cancels at the apex, removing the descending hitbox and the shockwave, but is faster, stronger and grants much more height and momentum, making it much better for recovering, as well as granting Kirby a reliable out of shield option. Grounding Stone is much weaker and has more start-up, but it buries grounded opponents and has much less ending lag, allowing for follow-ups, safer mindgames, and acts as a potential anti-juggling tool. Meteor Stone takes longer to end, but it meteor smashes the opponent and can even be used as a suicide move.
Overall, Kirby, like Luigi, tends to run hot-and-cold. He can inflict an impressive amount of damage if he gets close to his opponent, but doing so is difficult in the first place. As such, Kirby functions well with a bait and punish playstyle, although being unprepared for an opponent's approach can be hazardous due to his mediocre survivability. Kirby has seen average tournament representation and has achieved some degree of success, with professionals such as Poyo and Triple R consistently placing very well at or winning regional tournaments, while MikeKirby and K.I.D. Goggles have attained a handful of notable results at top-level tournaments.
Changes from Brawl
Kirby has been nerfed in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. He has retained most of the issues he had in Brawl, but he also suffers from new issues, such as having his range worsened in SSB4 due to his feet becoming smaller and size relative to the cast becoming smaller, and his standing and dash grabs' ranges getting decreased. However, some of his less reliable moves from Brawl, particularly Inhale and his down aerial, have been buffed and now possess much more utility. The changes to hitstun canceling also help Kirby much more than harm him, as they enable him to chain combos together much better. His improved combo game is further supplemented by his newly buffed forward throw, which lets him rack up damage very easily. His approach was also slightly improved due to his dashing speed becoming significantly faster.
Kirby has been noticeably buffed via game updates, addressing many flaws that he had in the initial release. Update 1.0.6 saw his KO potential improved, with his up and down smash attacks dealing more knockback and the latter being more effective if his down aerial is used to combo into it. Hammer Flip had its ending lag decreased, thus making it slightly less punishable as well. Update 1.1.0 brought about further buffs: Inhale's start-up lag was decreased, neutral attack's second hit now connects into his neutral infinite better and his neutral infinite's finisher comes out quicker, while his forward throw became effective for punishes and had its combo potential improved, which is very useful for Kirby due to his previous lack of a throw that he could combo into. He also benefits from the new shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1, as they let him break shields easier thanks to his down aerial's multiple hits and Stone's high damage output and hitlag. Update 1.1.3 brought about even further buffs: Kirby now dashes faster, all of his smash attacks, his forward and back aerials and all variations of Hammer Flip became slightly stronger, while his up throw became much stronger to the point of becoming a viable KOing option. Update 1.1.4 brought out another minor buff, as hard tripping now grants him five frames of invincibility. Lastly, update 1.1.5, buffed all of his smash attacks and all variations of Hammer Flip by slightly increasing their knockback. As a result, he is effectively much better than he was during SSB4's initial release.
In competitive play
In Event Matches