Kirby's Air Ride has no true storyline. Basically, you ride around on flying vehicles often referred to as "machines" or "stars", such as the Warp Star.
- Kirby - Kirby can choose his vehicle like the Warpstar, the Dragoon, the Hydra, and Much More.
- Meta Knight - Meta Knight is an unlockable character. He does not use a vehicle, instead, he just flies around. Because he has such a high speed and acceleration, he doesn't have a charge meter. He is a combination of Wing and Sword.
- King Dedede - King Dedede rides on a whellie bike, and he is controlled as such. He automatically attacks with a hammer when enemies are near. He also has a unique charge meter. He has to be unlocked.
In Kirby's Air Ride, there are three modes. They are Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial. In both Air Ride and Top Ride, you race against other players or AI Controlled units. In City trial, the players explore a moderate sized city in search of power-ups and different Machines for use in mini-games that occur after the Trial.
|Air Ride||In Air Ride, you race through multiple race-tracks against a maximum of three other foes. You encounter some smaller enemies, but no bosses. Of course, the object of the game is to win. There are two different ways to win a race, the first is to get to the finish line first. That's obvious. The second is to destroy all of your opponents first by either Spin Attacking them or using an obtainable copy ability.|
|Top Ride||A mini race that is small enough to be viewed by a top-down view. There are 7 stages with grass being the easiest. There are only two vehicles in this mode. Both of the vehicles have their own turning method. One is tilted left and right to turn (the origional) and tilting in the direction you want to go in. In Top ride, there are more items than in the air ride mode. Only Kirby can be chosen, and in the cources, there are features that can be altered once it has been unlocked by doing challanges.|
|City Trial||In City Trial, the objective is to ride around a moderate sized city and collect power-ups that increase the potential of your Machine. You can also jump off of your machine to get a new one in-game, and two legendary Machines, Dragoon and Hydra, can be used if the right requirements are met, those requierments being to collect the three pieces of either machine by breaking open the red boxes. At the end of the mode, the players will have to do a randomly selected (or a chosen) challenge. The power ups the player got for their machine as well as the machine play a large roll in how well they do.
Throughout the course of the City Trial, random events will occur that may benefit the players, or not. For example, there is an event where all of the items, the boxes and the power ups within, will bounce up and down, making it harder to get power ups.
Multiple Random Events occur in City Trial as well. The most notable could be the Dyna Blade Attack, considering that she and King Dedede are the only bosses to appear in Kirby Air Ride. The other Random Events include Tak stealing all of the power-ups, where the players must attack him to acquire the power-ups, large meteors falling from the sky and destroying everything, but the buildings, the Rail Stations catching on fire, bouncy items, and a thick fog covering the City, limiting sight.
Playable Characters are also unlockable. The three total playable characters are Meta Knight, Kirby, and King Dedede.
After the time is up in your City Trial run, a mini game will begin. The mini-games are:
|Destruction Derby||5 stages||Players use their Machines to fight each other to the death. All Copy Abilities are available and each kill is worth one star. The player with the most stars wins the mini-game.|
|Kirby Melee||2 stages||All the players are thrown into a small sized arena where basic foes attack you. The players' objective is to destroy more enemies than all the other players, using either the spin attacks or the Copy Abilities you can acquire from the foes. The player who destroys the most enemies, including other players, wins.|
|Single Race||9 stages||Players use their machines to race through the Air Ride courses in one lap. If one player loses all their health, that player is out.|
|High Jump||2 rounds||The players jump off of ramps to see who can go the highest.|
|Air glider||The players jump off of ramps to see who can fly the farthest.|
|Target||2 rounds||Players jump off of ramps and fly into a large square board. The board has different panels, each with a different number. You get the number of points indicated on the panel that you run into.|
|Vs. King Dedede||The players are put into a Destruction Derby Arena and fight to the 'death' against King Dedede. Although players should work together, the AI Units still attack all human players as if it was a basic Destruction Derby Match.|
Kirby Air Ride (known as Kirby Bowl 64 or Kirby Ball 64 at the time; Kirby Bowl is the Japanese name for Kirby's Dream Course) began development during the early days of the Nintendo 64 video game console. Much of the development was spearheaded by Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of Kirby. It was one of only two playable demos shown at the Nintendo 64's unveiling at the 1995 Shoshinkai show (the other being Super Mario 64). At this point the game consisted of two sub-games. One was somewhat similar to Marble Madness, as players would control a ball-shaped Kirby to either race across an obstacle course (in single player) or knock competing players off the playing field (in multiplayer). The prototype received a mixed reception due to slow speeds and poor graphics. The other more closely resembled the final game: a snowboarding race in which Kirby collects stars for points. It went through many changes during its elongated development period (the version shown at the 1996 E3 resembled a skateboarding sim) before eventually being canceled. It then resurfaced on the GameCube in the form of a short video preview in March 2003 at the annual DICE summit in Las Vegas, at which point it received its final title. This preview received a mainly negative reception due to slow speeds and poor graphics, factors which the Kirby Bowl 64 prototype had also been criticized for.
Kirby Air Ride was first seen in playable form at E3 in May later that year. The demo contained five playable tracks and three different game modes. The reception to this playable demo was more positive than the video preview.
Masahiro Sakurai, the game designer behind most of the early games in the Kirby series, resigned from his position at HAL Laboratory shortly after the game's release, citing that he was tiring of the constant pressure from the industry to keep creating sequels.
Kirby Air Ride sold 422,311 copies in Japan and 750,000 in the United States. Upon its release, the game received mixed reviews according to the review aggregator website Metacritic. Most websites and magazines praised its clean presentation, music, and the originality of the City Trial mode while criticizing its gameplay as being overly simple. Kirby Air Ride's similarity to other titles released for the GameCube around the same time (most notably F-Zero GX and Mario Kart: Double Dash, both of which were also made by Nintendo) resulted in it being categorized as a rather throwaway title. In Japan, Famitsu gave it a score of two eights and two nines for a total of 34 out of 40.
- Dyna Blade and King Dedede are the only two bosses to appear in Kirby Air Ride.
- Kirby Air Ride was originally meant to be an Nintendo 64 game. However, the game was cancelled. It made another appearance at E3 as a GameCube preview.
- The Winged Star, Shadow Star, Formula Star, and Rocket Star appeared in a special episode of Kirby: Right Back At Ya!
- This is the last Kirby game that Masahiro Sakurai, the character's creator, directly worked on.