Kirby is a bad character in most people’s eyes. Terrible mobility, bad aerial frame data, an exploitable recovery, and middling damage compared to the cast. However, there are quite a few things that Kirby has that makes him unique and viable to a certain degree. Over the last two years of Ultimate’s lifespan, I’ve been maining this character with pockets to expand my understanding of the game. I’d say I’m around the absolute Mid-Levels of players, and my results in tourneys show just that. A 2-2 ratio. So, with that being said, I’ll write my own opinions on the character and tell you all how I like to play him.
The first thing that needs to be established is his character stats. Kirby has decent ground speed with abysmal air speed. He’s a light character, which means he gets launched easily, floaty in the air, which means his gravity to the stage is lower than most characters, and a small hitbox (he’s a small boi, makes him harder to hit then other characters). Putting these few things together in the blender that is smash, along with the ability to low profile high-mid hitting attacks just by crouching, makes Kirby a slow and methodical character. One that takes calculated risks and stays grounded, even if his multiple jumps say otherwise. He does his best when weaving in and out of the opponent’s natural threat range. This is due to his tight turning and above average ground game.
Now let’s talk about general kit. Kirby has many great tilts to poke around with and start his pressure. His jab is frame 2, f-tilt’s frame 5, u-tilt’s frame 4, and d-tilt is frame 4. All of these play well with each other in the neutral. Jab is a low risk - low/mid reward punish on an opponent's whiffed button and can be used as a “Get off me tool” (A tool that is meant to push the opponent away from your character). F-tilt is a great move for poking at the opponent’s shield, approach, and landings. This move, when angled down, can two-frame opponents (when you catch someone during the two frames of vulnerability at ledge) and is, overall, a great move to throw out when you don’t know what your opponent’s gonna do. Down tilt is, arguably, Kirby’s best move. It serves the same purpose as f-tilt, however it forces Kirby to crouch frame 1. As we all know, my main man can low profile in his crouch. This makes you extremely hard to hit in theory and can carry matchups on its own. It’s not as severe as pika pancakes, but it’s up there in great utility. The move also has a 40% chance to trip, and can combo into itself. When the opponent trips, you can go into any of your attacks on the ground.
Kirby’s Air Normals are… hard to talk about. They all have great purpose in Kirby’s kit, but not in any traditional sense. Seeing as though Kirby’s fastest Aerial is frame 6, b-air, and his slowest is frame 10, f-air (not counting d-air, which is frame 18), he’s not going to be able to air to air character’s easily. The mans just doesn’t have enough frame advantage to challenge airborne opponents. So what do you do? Well, this makes Kirby’s air game considerably weaker compared to the top tiers and most high tiers. Though, they do work as aggressive callouts. B-air’s extremely good at calling out people’s jumps OoS. U-air’s great for starting combos on a whiffed normal. N-air’s a great landing option and is quite safe. F-air’s large and active hitboxes makes it great at poking. F-air is also Kirby’s best way of getting kills and combo starters. F-air 1 > F-smash is a true combo that works around 85%-115% (general numbers for the collective cast). F-air 1,2 > D-smash starts working around 85%-140%. F-air 1 always combos into grab until 135%. Just know that F-air 1 is negative on shield, and it’s easily punished. D-air is pretty bad all things considered. It’s a good edgeguarding tool, though the spike is very weak compared to everyone else, and leads to his optimal missed tech punish and is apart of his optimal damage combos, but it’s very unsafe in neutral and even more unsafe on block.
Kirby’s specials are… extremely mid to bottom tier. Hammer is almost useless outside of stage 2, and inhale has a lot of problems when it comes to pushing advantage. Rock is the most useful out of the bunch in most matchups, however, it is also extremely risky to do. Though, here’s how I use them. Rock is Kirby’s best way of getting out of juggle situations and punishing those who overextend in Juggle situations (Mostly by killing the opponent off the top). You can also use Rock to edge guard and as a faster way to get down to the ledge. Hammer is great for ledge trapping right outside of a character’s get up attack range. Not only can you react to get up attack and punish with a strong move, you can react to jumps, rolls (hammer has a frame 1 turn around), and even Normal Get up.
Inhale gets its own paragraph, since it’s probably the only tool that’s completely unique to Kirby. Though it may have it’s issues, it’s probably the strongest tool Kirby has against opponent’s on platforms… as a mixup. You see, it’s a command grab, and those go through shields. Which means shielding on a platform is a bit harder against Kirby, like it is against Bowser with Side b. Kirby’s copy abilities range from terrible, Rollout, to absolutely obscene, KaFriz. Keep in mind that any ability that is copied gets a straight 1.2x multiplier to damage, which makes moves like Bullet seed to massive amounts of damage. It’s also Kirby’s only useable b-reverse option, so it has that going for him.
Grabs are also pretty good all things considered. The grab starts up at 6 frames, which is tied for the fastest grab, however it’s not going to be any Palu grab range. It’s extremely, extremely small. So small that it’s only on his nub and inside Kirby. However, this comes with the great throws that Kirby has. F-throw is a combo starter that’ll stop working around 45% and is the starter for most of Kirby’s optimal damage combos. On light characters, you’ll only be able to start using this throw around 10%. Mid-weights 5%. And Bowser 7%. D-throw is your optimal damage out of a grab past 45%. It replaces your box standard positional throw as well, so you get good damage, good positioning, and a great advantage state afterwards. Back throw is your box standard back throw. Good for positioning, and can kill at late percents when you’re right next to the ledge. Up throw is your kill throw. It’ll kill midweights around 160% and can kill earlier with platforms, 130% against Marth on BF.
And that’s about it. Kirby is a good character, that’s held back by his poor movement. He’s a laid back methodical pokes character that can deal large amounts of damage when he gets in, and that makes him unique in his own right.
If you want to play me or have any other questions, feel free to contact me at my discord tag. (JC | CM [Greatest Imaginary Duo]#5110) or on this post if that’s even an option. I’ll do my best to answer your questions. That being said, I hope you all are having the best of days and that your day only gets better from here.