Video Game / Kirby Air Ride

Kirby's one and only title on the Nintendo GameCube, Kirby Air Ride (or Kirby's Airride in Japan), is a Mascot Racer that was released in 2003 (though its Troubled Production goes farther back, having originally started development on the Nintendo 64). Its three different modes, Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial, all involve Kirby riding and gliding on one of several different vehicles while competing against up to three others. More notably, it was the final game in the Kirby series to be directed by creator Masahiro Sakurai; after its release, he resigned from HAL Laboratory out of frustration for the pressure to keep creating sequels for his IPs, stating in an interview with Nintendo Dream that he wanted to create games without people expecting follow-ups each and every time. Sakurai would collaborate with HAL two more times after his resignation, serving as a special adviser for Kirby & The Amazing Mirror and directing Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Kirby Air Ride contains examples of:

  • American Kirby is Hardcore: One of the most definitive examples in the series and serves as the trope's current picture. See for yourself.
  • Bubbly Clouds: Beanstalk Park in Air Ride mode and Sky in Top Ride mode.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • In City Trial, the stat-boosting power-ups are each uniquely colored, making them easier to tell apart from afar.
    • Within the same mode, the item-containing boxes are colored to show what kind of item will be found within them.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Many of the rides suffer from being too specialized in a certain stat or gimmick. For instance, the Rocket Star has the best boosting power in the game. But it suffers so much in almost every other category that it often becomes moot.
  • Disk One Nuke: Downplayed Trope. The Wagon Star is one of the first machines you can unlock in Air Ride mode, and it's one of the better stars in the game. However, it's still beatable with the default Warp Star.
  • Eternal Engine: Machine Passage in Air Ride mode and Metal in Top Ride mode.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Clicking the Control Stick left and right allows Kirby to execute a Quick Spin, allowing you to attack nearby enemies.
  • Flying Saucer: One of City Trial's many random events has a gigantic one fly ominously overhead. What does it do? It rewards any player able to get on top of it with many power-ups, including the normally rare All-Up.
  • Foreshadowing: During City Trial, there will often be a prediction made about the event that will follow.
  • Green Hill Zone: Fantasy Meadows in Air Ride mode and Grass in Top Ride mode.
  • Invisible Wall: The main area in City Trial and each of the races in Air Ride are surrounded with these to prevent escaping or cheating, although if you have enough flying power, you can make it over the wall. Some stages do have a way of getting of the track, but they result in Kirby falling to his death in a Bottomless Pit.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Magma Flows in Air Ride mode and Fire in Top Ride.
  • Patchwork Map: The map of City Trial definitely counts as this, with a volcano, forest, river, icy cavern, several buildings, and the sea all quite close to one another.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: A surprising amount of music is reused from the Japanese version of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!. Songs from other Kirby games get recycled too, but the anime takes the cake. How many video games refer to TV shows based on them for soundtracks?
  • Secret Underground Passage: City Trial has a few examples of this.
    • There's a passage underneath the forest accessed by breaking through from above in a couple specific spots or by breaking through a wall in one of the other underground sections.
    • There is also an icy cavern underneath the volcano reached by breaking one of the rock walls around its base or riding a rail straight into its center.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Sky Sands in Air Ride mode and Sand in Top Ride.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Frozen Hillside in Air Ride mode.
  • Space Zone: Nebula Belt in Air Ride mode and Light in Top Ride mode.
  • Starter Equipment: The Compact Star is the ride you start with in City Trial. While it's not the best choice for actual competition, it boasts a surprisingly good combination of charge, turn, and gliding ability which makes it good for collecting a lot patches before switching to a more suitable ride for the event.
  • Shout-Out: The menus are clearly inspired by Super Smash Bros. Melee. In fact, it seems that Brawl's menu designs were inspired by this game.
    • The Fog Event for City Trial, in which the city is trapped in an intense fogbank, is a possible one for a certain other game franchise, especially with the eerie music.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: This is the first game that allowed players to fully control Kirby in a 3D space. Beyond racing and battling on Air Ride machines, the City Trial mode also allowed you to dismount your vehicle and freely run and float around. Although just like in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, your jumps are limited.
  • Your Size May Vary: In his event, King Dedede is ENORMOUS. When you're actually playing as him, he's barely bigger than Kirby.