Guarding is Kirby's only defensive action in games such as Kirby Super Star, its remake, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, and Kirby: Planet Robobot. By holding down the guard button, Kirby assumes a defensive posture until the button is released. While guarding, Kirby takes no damage from weak attacks and minimal damage from stronger attacks, in addition to retaining his ability and not getting knocked off the ground. Enemies that come in contact with a guarding Kirby also take minimal damage.
Generally, guarding is ineffective against attacks which involve grabbing. Guarding also has no effect on environmental elements such as wind or lava. Kirby can only guard while standing still.
Copy Abilities with Special Guards
Bell - In Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Kirby Fighters Deluxe, guarding with the Bell ability causes Kirby to pull the bell he wears on his head over his body to protect himself. When attacked while guarding, the bell will send out sound waves that hurt nearby enemies. In Kirby Fighters Deluxe, Bell's guard will only produce sound waves if timed precisely before an attack hits Kirby. This change was made to balance the ability for a competitive game.
Ice - In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, guarding with the Ice ability produces a spherical ice formation around Kirby which blocks more damage than a regular guard. It also damages nearby enemies when the guard button is released. This ability is also present in Kirby Super Star and its remake.
Leaf - In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, while guarding with the Leaf ability, Kirby is intangible instead of invincible; attacks will simply pass through him regardless of their power. This guard also makes Kirby immune to grabs. Releasing the guard causes minor damage to nearby enemies.
Mirror - In Kirby Super Star and its remake as well as in Kirby: Planet Robobot, guarding with the Mirror ability provides a shining bubble of energy around Kirby's body. This bubble negates damage from even strong attacks and can reflect projectiles.
The Guard mechanic was vastly upgraded in Kirby: Triple Deluxe. Not only can players guard, but they can also perform a sideways dodge while guarding, making Kirby: Triple Deluxe's guard system very similar to Super Smash Bros. Despite this modification, more enemy and boss attacks can pierce Kirby's defense than in Kirby Super Star and its remake. As in Super Smash Bros. Melee, dodging can also be performed in the air, but only once before touching the ground again.
In Kirby Fighters and Kirby Fighters Deluxe, there is a visible guard meter indicating the remaining strength of a Kirby's guard before it is pierced. Similar to shield decay in Super Smash Bros., it gradually decreases on its own while one's guard is held, as well as decreasing from attacks. When not guarding, the meter rapidly replenishes itself. The dodge maneuver was made faster, granting less invincibility time, but letting players follow up a dodge with a counterattack more quickly and effectively.
In the Super Smash Bros. series
The shield mechanic in the Super Smash Bros. series is heavily based on the guard mechanic of the Kirby series. Shielding in the Super Smash Bros. games produces an energy bubble very reminiscent of the Mirror ability's Reflect Guard. The primary difference is that shields shrink as they are held or when they take damage, and will break if they get too small, stunning the user, though shields' power regenerates when they are not in use. This shield design eventually made an appearance in the Kirby series through Kirby: Planet Robobot's Smash Bros. ability, although it is purely a cosmetic effect when guarding and has no special properties.
- As a helper, Tac has his own guard move known as Tac Hide. When used, it allows attacks to pass right through him, leaving him completely unscathed.
- According to the English print of the 20th Anniversary booklet, the Guard maneuver originally also utilized a "guard bomb", where if Kirby guarded for enough time, he'd charge up an enemy-damaging explosion which he could trigger when he lifted his guard. This idea was eventually scrapped.