Kirby is voiced in all regions once again by Makiko Ōmoto, using a combination of new voice clips and ones recycled from Super Smash Bros. 4.
Kirby is known for being a small lightweight, being tied for the eighth-lightest character in the game. True to his franchise, Kirby is a slow, yet floaty character. He has the 26th slowest walking speed, 33rd fastest dashing speed, and 37th slowest initial dash. He also has the 5th slowest air speed, 15th highest air acceleration, 3rd lowest gravity, the 5th lowest falling and fast falling speeds, and above average traction. Due to these statistics, Kirby has difficulty approaching opponents. Kirby's recovery is versatile: despite his slow air speed and low jump height rendering him susceptible to edgeguarding, his five midair jumps, slow falling speed, long vertical airdodge, and Final Cutter's decent distance give him good stalling capabilities and decent safety.
Kirby's greatest strengths are his fast frame data, high combo potential, and the versatility of his moveset. The majority of Kirby's attacks are characterized by speed, with his tilts being among the fastest in the game, while his slowest moves instead boast high power as a trade-off, while still being quite fast for their power. Neutral attack and forward tilt are fast and have decent range, allowing Kirby to quickly distance opponents, with the latter being used for tech chase setups. Up tilt's low knockback and high speed allow it to combo into multiple moves, such as itself, an aerial attack, or an Inhale. Down tilt's low power is compensated by its very fast speed and it launching opponents at the Sakurai angle, which allows it to trip most opponents even over 80%. Should he trip his opponents with it, he can follow up with a variety of attacks, such as a dash attack, grab, or forward smash. Dash attack’s early hit is excellent for whiff punishing and scoring a KO, potentially KOing opponents starting at 90%, while the late hit can set up into an Inhale. His smash attacks have good range, high power, and great speed, making them excellent at scoring a KO. Kirby is also very small, making him hard to hit, and his very low crouch allows him to avoid almost all grabs and several attacks. As a result, Kirby has an excellent ground and defensive game thanks to his quick frame data and evasive crouch, requiring opponents to be careful when approaching him in neutral.
The usefulness of Kirby's ground game also extends to his grab game. His grabs have short range but are among the fastest, while his pummel's meager damage output is counterbalanced by its very fast speed. His forward throw, unlike most other forward throws in the game, has combo potential, leading into aerial attacks from low to mid percentages. Back throw can be followed up by a back aerial at 0% on certain characters, can KO at high percents, and can send opponents offstage. Up throw is his strongest throw and is able to KO almost all characters around 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 air game is also notable, despite his poor air speed, due to the versatility of his aerial attacks. Neutral aerial has a long-lasting hitbox, high knockback on the clean hit, very low landing lag, and good coverage, making it a safe landing option. The weak hit of neutral air can combo into his tilts, grab, or even a smash attack. It can also be used as a combo finisher and can be used as a KO move at high percents. Due to the move lasting longer compared to his other aerials, it can safely pressure shields. Forward aerial is a powerful combo tool, can pressure shields, be used as a respectable KOing option, and its first two hits can allow additional follow-ups due to its low landing lag. Up aerial has good vertical knockback, low landing lag and a fairly quick auto-cancel window, allowing for many potential follow-ups and even opportunities to KO when near the upper blast line. Back aerial has decent range, high knockback on the clean hit, and is Kirby's fastest aerial, making it one of his strongest options overall. Lastly, down aerial has considerable startup, but has multiple hits that drag opponents downward before the final hit meteor smashes them and has low ending lag, making it a deceptively powerful edgeguarding tool as well as a reliable combo starter with follow-ups on grounded opponents.
Kirby's special moves can provide some unique strengths. Inhale is his most notable example; it allows him to either copy the neutral special move of any character he inhales, or spit them out as a weight-dependent projectile. Depending on what character he inhales, the copy ability can give Kirby a move that helps him in matchups to various degrees, such as useful projectiles to counter-camp his opponent (Needle Storm, Charge Shot, Wolf's Blaster), powerful punish options (Giant Punch, Homing Attack), a reflector (Nayru's Love), or other benefits (Monado Arts). In addition, Kirby's version of the opponent's neutral special has a 1.2x damage multiplier. Kirby can also inhale projectiles; smaller projectiles will be swallowed, allowing him to heal himself, while larger ones (such as a fully-charged Charge Shot) can be stored in his mouth and spat out, essentially giving Kirby a reflector. The spat projectiles can be used to punish opponents at mid-range and can launch them away with high knockback. Inhale can also be used to Kirbycide or spit the opponent out offstage, although the opponent can escape by mashing. Hammer Flip is very powerful, especially when fully charged, and Kirby can move and jump while charging. However, its high startup and endlag, along with its short range and Kirby's already-sluggish movement being further slowed when charging, makes it difficult to land outside of a shield break, covering ledge options, or after a jab lock. Final Cutter is his primary recovery move, granting good vertical distance, as well as a disjoint in front of him during his ascent and descent. It also emits a shockwave projectile upon landing, making it difficult to punish if the opponent is not behind Kirby. Lastly, Stone causes Kirby to turn into an object and ignore up to 25% damage. It is also a strong attack, especially in the air, and can be canceled shortly after Kirby begins his descent, although these benefits are limited by its slow startup and ending lag, and Kirby is still vulnerable to grabs while transformed.
Kirby’s most notable flaw, however, is his poor approach. Characters who have high mobility or who can camp with projectiles can wall out Kirby, such as Mii Gunner and Samus. Kirby's lack of reliable burst options makes his approach in these matchups problematic and sometimes predictable. In addition, characters with long disjointed hitboxes such as Ike can outrange and wall out Kirby since his range is short relative to the cast. Final Cutter's projectile has decent range and moves quickly, but has somewhat slow startup due to it requiring Kirby to perform the entire rising and falling portions of the move beforehand, and he lacks other projectiles outside of spitting inhaled projectiles/opponents, or from a copy ability. This requires conscientious use to avoid punishment. Despite having great air acceleration, Kirby's air speed is also too slow for him to take advantage of it, hindering his aerial approach and recovery despite possessing five midair jumps. Kirby also has several KO moves, but some can be hard to land without a setup due to their short range. Rage further compounds these issues, as Kirby will be launched even further by a high-damage opponent, and his low weight means he will sometimes not survive long enough to take advantage of his own rage.
In addition, Kirby also has poor endurance. While being light and floaty can help him escape combos from other characters, this also means he risks getting KOed earlier. He is also vulnerable to juggling, due to his aforementioned slow falling and air speeds. This imposes as a risk in approaching opponents in the air, while also preventing Kirby's aerials from being used effectively when in a disadvantage state, often forcing him to rely on his jumps, Stone, or neutral aerial to escape and return to the ground or ledge.
Overall, Kirby tends to run hot and cold. He can inflict an impressive amount of damage if he gets close to his opponent thanks to his excellent frame data and potent combo game, but doing so is challenging for him due to his poor approach. 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 low survivability.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Near the end of SSB4's metagame, Kirby had been considered a low-tier character in the game's most recent tier list (50th out of 55), due to a combination of lackluster attributes and underwhelming moveset despite its power. Likely as a result, Kirby has been granted a mix of buffs and nerfs in the transition to Ultimate; although he was noticeably buffed overall, especially compared to the game's initial release, many of his changes to gameplay mechanics were also a mixed bag.
Kirby's buffs lie in the increased utility of his moveset as a whole, with overall improved frame data and KO power on his finishers. The first two hits of his neutral attack can now jab lock, and the looping hits connect into the opponent much more reliably (albeit at the cost of reduced damage output); forward tilt is a stronger neutral option and KO move due to its reduced endlag and its increased knockback; dash attack has been mostly reverted back to its Melee iteration — however, it is significantly stronger, dealing much more damage and knockback, has less startup compared to his previous dash attack in SSB4, can cross-up on shields, covers more distance, and is more reliable for catching opponents thanks to only consisting of one, long-lasting hit. These changes make it a stronger punish tool and a much more versatile move overall than his previous dash attack. His smash attacks are also stronger punish options, with forward smash having an increase in range, up smash having reduced start-up, and down smash regaining its semi-spike angle that makes it better for edgeguarding, similarly to one of its hitboxes in Brawl; all three also have improved KO ability, with forward and up smash dealing more knockback, and down smash KOing earlier at the edge due to its lower angle (and despite its reduced knockback). Many of Kirby's attacks, such as up tilt and all his aerials except for up aerial also have more range, partially reducing one of his weaknesses from SSB4.
The universal reduction to landing lag has also exponentially benefitted his aerials, which already had among the lowest landing lag in SSB4; his aerials are not only safer, but now capable of leading into followups, with forward aerial's first two hits now being able to follow up into forward smash. Notably, his neutral and up aerials -the former being one of his most situational attacks-, are now faster, deal more knockback (with the former's clean hit being one of the strongest neutral aerials in Ultimate and the latter had some of its lost KO power restored from Melee) and have less ending lag, making them much better overall; neutral aerial also has more range, and up aerial deals higher damage which further improves its power. As for his special moves, Inhale has been significantly buffed with faster startup, less ending lag, a much longer grace period in which Kirby cannot lose his Copy Ability, a lower probability of losing said ability after this period has ended, and a new 1.2× multiplier to his copied neutral special compared to his opponent (albeit without a corresponding increase to knockback), giving him a greater incentive and a higher reward from inhaling opponents. Furthermore, he can now eat the projectiles he swallows to heal himself (and store certain ones in his mouth as well, enabling him to spit them out as stars). Hammer Flip now renders Kirby nigh-impossible to stop for a longer time as long as he's grounded; Final Cutter is faster and its landing hit is much more powerful, which improves its utility; and Stone's aerial variant now has super armor during its startup, making it more difficult to interrupt Kirby out of the attack, as in previous Smash games he could be interrupted even when he fully transformed.
However, Kirby has also received several noteworthy nerfs. The most notable were to his already below-average grab game: his already mediocre grab range has been worsened (most notably on his pivot grab), and forward throw has him jump up higher after the throw, which runs the risk of possibly landing on top of a soft platform, negating all follow-ups when it happens too early (although following up neutral air or up aerial can allow more follow-ups), while back throw has lost most of its combo setups due to changes to the animation. Altogether, this grants Kirby a less effective combo game off of his grabs overall. Other nerfs include Stone no longer hitting shielding opponents twice, reducing its shield pressure considerably; back aerial deals less knockback (although the clean hit now lasts for slightly longer to compensate); and down aerial, one of his most reliable combo starters in SSB4, has more range on the looping hits, but slightly less on the final hit and is less advantageous on landing due to the removal of frame canceling, reducing the effectiveness of its follow-ups since its landing lag was not reduced enough to compensate properly. Furthermore, he still retains many of the same issues that plagued him in SSB4, with mediocre range, sluggish aerial mobility and a high susceptibility to being camped.
The changes to gameplay mechanics both help and hinder Kirby. The revamped air dodge mechanics have significantly improved his innate ability to edgeguard opponents more effectively, and directional air dodges have also given him a secondary recovery option, but this also makes him more susceptible to juggling and edgeguarding as well, due to his short-ranged aerials and predictable landing options. The changes to downwards velocity KOing opponents faster from the bottom blast line now render Final Cutter as a significantly more deadly edgeguarding and sacrificial KO option, further improving its utility. The increased shieldstun and increased startup on shield grabbing notably benefits Kirby's safety on hit, due to his moves' natural high damage and low ending lag, making him harder to get off and punish accordingly. Conversely, the changes to grabs' ending lag make Kirby's own grab riskier to throw out, as their ending lag can prove more punishable. The increase in mobility is a mixed bag for Kirby, as while his mobility has improved overall relative to the cast (most notably his aerial mobility), his problems with camping from the previous incarnation remain, exhibited with the increased prevalence of zoners. Overall, the two lattermost changes have resulted in his range issues being even more pronounced than in SSB4, but the changed mechanics have also granted him additional edgeguarding tools and an improved defensive game.
Overall, Kirby's changes now render his punish game much more deadly, make him much harder to shake off once he gains the advantage, and allow him to seal stocks at much more varied percentages, but the universal changes to the game's engine have made it slightly easier for opponents to keep him away and have rendered said punishment game slightly more inconsistent. As a result, he has once again having earned some representation in all levels of competitive play with players such as Komota, Jesuischoq, and Ferretkuma innovating his gameplay. Due to his somewhat rare tournament results at top levels of play, however, his perception in Ultimate's competitive scene has been somewhat negative much like in the previous game, as a number of players view Kirby around the same vein as in SSB4. On the other hand, several game updates have handed Kirby a myriad of buffs (most notably update 6.0.0 in recent times), which has caused other players to note the improvements and rank him higher. In the end, Kirby's overall viability remains questionable.
Throws and other attacks
Aside from glitch fixes, Kirby has been buffed significantly via game updates. Update 2.0.0 improved his ground game by reducing the ending lag of his forward tilt, along with granting it increased base knockback, giving it newfound KO potential at very high percentages, while also boosting its safety at low percents. Dash attack's clean hit was also given a larger hitbox, and its damage output was increased overall. Update 3.0.0 improved the duration of his up smash's clean hit, making it easier to land on aerial opponents, and reduced the ending lag on his neutral aerial. Inhale's Copy Ability grace period was also extended, allowing Kirby to safely keep his abilities for longer, and the probability of him losing them when receiving damage was also reduced. Furthermore, his down throw's damage output was increased, and Final Cutter can grab ledges earlier, making it safer for recovery.
Update 6.0.0 granted Kirby some of his most significant improvements. Both neutral and up aerials had their startup reduced and their knockback increased, improving their combo and KO potential. Inhale had its startup reduced as well, and the grace period for Copy Ability was further increased, along with a further reduction to the probability of losing his abilities. Up smash's sourspot had its knockback increased, improving its consistency, and neutral attack's startup was reduced by 1 frame. Following this, update 7.0.0 enlarged Kirby's shield, making him much less susceptible to shield pokes.
Kirby has been buffed once more in update 8.0.0, strengthening a handful of his finishers such as down smash, back aerial, and Stone, with the former having decreased start-up, alleviating the nerfs they initially received in the transition to Ultimate. Dash attack had its clean hit's knockback increased and its previously high endlag reduced, with cross-ups now being much safer and as well as giving the late hit follow-up potential. Although forward aerial's increased damage output and knockback makes it harder for him to follow up with his comboes at low percents, it is an overall benefit since it renders his finishers to be more potent, while indirectly giving his other combo tools more flexibility.
For a gallery of Kirby's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
All taunts remove Kirby's Copy Ability if he has one.
Note: Outside of team battles, Kirby's victory poses have three separate Kirbys, referencing the Kirby Dance from his home series.
In competitive play
Since the release of Ultimate, many professionals immediately noticed Kirby's significant flaws from the previous installment had been retained, in spite of the mechanics suiting him better in comparison to SSB4. As a result, his representation in regionals and nationals has been minimal, with his reception being negative across the community. Players noted his vulnerability to being camped, poor range, slow air speed, as well as platforms potentially negating all follow-ups should he start a combo with a forward throw. Throughout Ultimate’s metagame, many considered him a low or even bottom tier, with some going as far as putting him as the worst character in the game due to these weaknesses and his sparse results and representation outside of locals.
Patches 6.0.0 and 8.0.0 eventually gave Kirby some of his biggest improvements. Some of his aerial attack gained more KO power and versatility, his ability to follow-up on platforms was partially restored, and he gained additional options for kill confirms. His results have noticeably improved as well, with players such as Jesuischoq and Ferretkuma placing well at both regional and national levels, with the former even defeating Glutonny. Because of these improvements, his perception has improved enough that he is often considered a mid-tier character. Some players have also recognized niche top-tier matchups Kirby can evade, thanks to his strong close-quarters combat game and crouch, notably Palutena and Fox.
Classic Mode: Gourmet Clash
Kirby's opponents are characters who, like Kirby, are known for their large appetites. For each battle, Kirby and his opponent each spawn with 35% damage and several food items appear on the stage as the match begins.
Character unlock tree
Kirby's Classic Mode character unlock tree includes the following characters in order:
Each character can be unlocked by clearing Kirby's Classic Mode, or the Classic Mode of any preceding character, if all preceding characters have been unlocked. Once all the above characters are unlocked, clearing Classic Mode with any of them will default to Mario's character unlock tree, starting with Sonic.
Role in World of Light
Kirby was among the fighters summoned to the cliffside to assist in defeating an army of Master Hands.
After Galeem absorbed all of the Master Hands during the opening cutscene, he began to unleash beams of light that vaporized all of the fighters and later imprisoned all of them. Kirby was the sole survivor after escaping on his Warp Star, barely warping away from the beams before they could engulf him. Despite being the sole survivor, Kirby is still seen as a puppet in a few areas of the mode. It was later explained that Galeem had analyzed Kirby at some point during the story and was able to make puppet fighters in his image without needing Kirby himself.
Kirby crash-lands in a canyon area, and begins his quest to save the other fighters as the initial starting protagonist.
He is later seen alongside several other fighters, as they make their final stand against Galeem and Dharkon.
Kirby's fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 500 coins. Starting World of Light and play as Kirby allows the player to preview the first spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a fighter spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Each fighter spirit has an alternate version that replaces them with their artwork in Ultimate.
Additionally, Kirby makes an appearance in various support spirits.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
Character Showcase Video