Kirby: Freeze Frame plays alike traditional Kirby games, specifically Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, with it having a strong empathsis on exploring large levels and finding secrets as opposed to more linear installments. Although the game includes only 6 levels to play, each of these levels are very expansive and mazelike, containing various treasures and secrets, but most importantly Time Crystals. A total of 25 Time Crystals are hidden away in each level and by collecting 100 out of 150 the seventh and final level, the Fountain of Time will be unsealed, thus the goal of the game is to find and collect these Time Crystals. Upon defeating a boss a new level is unlocked, each level has their own respective boss and while not all bosses or levels are needed to be bested to enter the Fountain of Time, having more levels open mean more Time Crystals becoming available for collection.
As expected the titular Kirby is able to inhale things and spit them for basic combat or swallow them to ultimately defeat them, and by swallowing certain enemies Kirby will gain Copy Abilities; the ability he gains depends on what was swallowed but every copy ability replaces Kirby's inhale with other techniques suited for combat. Kirby can also sacrifice his current Copy Ability to summon a Helper; an enemy that grants the ability sacrificed, now aiding Kirby by using the ability's moveset to combat other enemies. Up to three Helpers can be active at once and upon losing all their health they are defeated, helpers can also change their ability by touching any sort of Copy Essence weather it be Kirby's discarded abilities or a Copy Pedestal. If there are Helpers present, another player can take control of one, meaning up to three other players are able to play the game. Should another player stray offscreen they will not be warped back to Kirby but instead a splitscreen will be created for them to explore the vast level separately. To compliment the ability to separate, each player can also warp to another player by calling them on their Cell Phone with no cost, allowing players to get back together even after separating.
Time Crystals collected are taken back to power the Time Traveler, which essensily acts as the game's HUB where levels can be assessed. The Time Traveler contains various rooms but the main room can be decorated with Treasure, furniture found in Treasure Chests scattered throughout levels, all of these treasures typically relate to the level they were collected in such as Fruit Forest, an oriental-themed level, containing various oriental Treasure.
As a way to increase the game's difficulty the Air Gauge is introduced, serving as a way to limit Kirby's once endless ability to fly. Whilst floating, the Air Gauge will go down at a moderate pace and once it runs out of air Kirby will be forced to halt floating and fall. Copy Abilities that allow other methods of flight also use the air gauge as well. Fortunately, air supply can be replenished by touching Bubbles, which restore a great amount of air. Helpers do not have Air Gauges, instead having a limited amount of jumps that in total equals the height Kirby himself can achieve.
A new Copy Ability known as Time is introduced and is exclusive to Kirby: Freeze Frame, it can be accessed at anytime but only by Kirby himself, Kirby can also use his current ability while Time is in play. While this very potent ability is active everything becomes grayscale and time completely stops, freezing enemies, obstacles and everything else safe for Kirby and his helpers, the only catch being it can only be used for up to 8 seconds before becoming unusable, it can be cancelled though to reserve it's time limit for later use. The time ability can only be recovered by returning to the Time Traveler, so it's best to use the Time ability strategically. The game puts heavy empathizes on using the Time ability strategically for collecting Time Crystals, combating enemies while frozen and halting obstacles to avoid undesirable situations.
Amiibo function as they to in Kirby: Planet Robobot, granting Kirby certain Copy Abilities related to the Amiibo tapped. Each Amiibo can only be tapped once per day and all Amiibo grant Kirby and ability weather it be a specific or random one. If an Amiibo is tapped while a player is on standby for a Helper to be created, that Amiibo's helper will be summoned.
There are currently a total of 30 Copy Abilities (if Time is excluded) with 26 returning and 4 new. It is unknown if any more will be announced.
Click on a copy ability to see it's moveset
Each copy ability when sacrificed summons it's corresponding Helper regardless of what enemy or method the ability was copied. The helpers are...
Extra items sometimes found within Treasure Chests, while not required to progress or get 100% they can be used to decorate the Time Traveler's main room.
|An elegant oriental castle surrounded by a vast forest of blossom trees. The level itself starts off on a linear forest path where the basic mechanics are introduced before eventually the great and fortified castle is explored. Unlike the blossom forest, the castle itself is very expansive and full of treasure, making it a challenge to navigate. Overall, this is a simple level that covers the game's basics and heavy emphasis on exploration.||15||Cloudy Woods|
|As opposed to the previous world, this old western plains is less explorative and more combat oriented. Besides some basic desert plains, the entirety of the level takes place on a straightforward train with many tough enemies to be bested along the way. The large amount of enemies will encourage the Time ability to be used for combating foes and dodging their attacks.|