Like any good Kirby game, Air Ride Spectacle's gameplay is easy to learn but hard to master. Players play as Kirbys of a variety of colors, riding vehicles called Air Ride Machines. The main Air Ride mode uses only and the touchscreen or as controls. is used for steering both on the ground and while gliding in midair, where vertical control is inverted as for a plane's control column; and for using the Quick Spin attack while in motion. Meanwhile, button lowers the player's Air Ride Machine to the ground and is used for all but everything else in the game, including braking (machines accelerate automatically); using Boost Pads; filling the Boost Gauge for a speed boost; canceling glides; and inhaling enemies and using their abilities afterwards.
- Air Ride: The main attraction, a third-person racing mode with the standard selection of Air Ride Machines.
- Top Ride: A top-down racing mode with unique courses and machines.
- Smash Ride: A competitive mode where players must knock their opponents off of an arena to win!
- City Trial: Collect patches around a city to customize your machine's stats, then compete in a random minigame once the two-minute timer expires.
- Minigames: Lets you play the City Trial minigames alone.
Air Ride Machines
- The title of the game abbreviates to "KARS", which is close enough to the word "cars", really. …Maybe it should've been named Cirby's Air Ride Spectacle instead?
- Air Ride Spectacle's menus are clearly stylistically based off of those of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, an inversion of and joke on how Super Smash Bros. Brawl had menus similar to those of the original Kirby Air Ride.