Review by Croco

Reviewed: 07/26/00 | Updated: 07/26/00

Everyone's Favorite Pink Puffball Returns to Collect the Crystal Shards

Kirby is one of my favorite characters in the video gaming world. Sure, he's a little pink puffball, but most little pink puffballs don't have the ability to fly, inhale enemies, or obtain special powers and morphing abilities. Kirby could probably destroy every other video game character out there. Plus he's soooo cute.

HAL Labs, the developers of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, has done some good, but not great work in the past. Mario Party 1, Mario Party 2, and Super Smash Bros. were all good games and really fun to play, but lacked depth and length. So, the fate of Kirby was uncertain when it was announced that HAL was working on it. It could be good, it could be bad...

Kirby 64 main attraction is Kirby's ability to acquire the enemies powers of Fire, Ice, Cutter, Needle, Electricity, Rock, and Bomb. Kirby can use these abilities alone for cool attacks, but when he combines two types of powers, he gains a special, powerful, and unique attack. As there are seven different powers, there's a bunch of different combinations you can have... Fire and Cutter will give Kirby a flame sword... Needle and Rock will give Kirby a powerful drill... Bomb and Ice will turn Kirby into an explosive snowman... and Ice and Electricity will turn Kirby into a refrigerator that spits out a bunch of tasty treats.

Kirby 64 also features 6 worlds with 3-4 levels each. The worlds have a theme, and the levels usually have some part in this theme (although not always). At the end of each world is a boss stage, where Kirby must take on a huge boss that's much harder than the normal enemies or mini-bosses Kirby encounters.

GRAPHICS: 8.0/10.0
Yoshi's Story claimed to be 2 1/2-D, but I failed to really see any difference (besides better graphics than most 2-D games) that made it this way. I can honestly say, however, that Kirby succeeds in being 2 1/2-D. Kirby walks along on a set 2-D path, but the game really looks like it's 3-D. For example, the path may head into the background, curve upwards, or circle around an object. This is an excellent work because the game will look great while still being the classic Kirby side-scroller. That being said, the quality of the graphics themselves aren't exceptional, but good. Kirby and friends are super-smooth, but some of the backgrounds aren't really spectacular.

STORY: 5.5/10.0
The story really isn't too deep, and the intro cinema explaining it isn't done too well. Basically, an evil dark matter attacks the peaceful planet of Ripple Star. While one of the fairy-like creatures escapes with the precious crystal, some of the matter chases her, and shatters the crystal into many shards. Kirby must save Ripple Star and collect all the scattered Crystal Shards if everything is to be well again. It sets up the game, but isn't developed throughout the game. Not that Kirby games need much of a story, though...

PLAY CONTROL: 7.5/10.0
Kirby is easy to move around, and eating enemies, taking their powers and getting rid of your attacks is simple. However, precision movement isn't the easiest thing, and carrying a weapon or power makes it even worse. Kirby also moves very, very slowly, especially when flying. The camera is controlled by the game, and while it usually gives a dramatic view, sometimes it's located poorly.

SOUND: 7.5/10.0
The tunes of Kirby are generally upbeat and happy. They fit well into the atmosphere of a Kirby game, but aren't really catchy or complex. The sound effects are good as well, although some of the special attacks Kirby uses could have more pronounced sounds.

INNOVATION: 7.0/10.0
Some of the parts of the levels seem to be taken directly from past Kirby games or other platform games (like Mario). The main source of innovation in this game are the many attacks and powers Kirby can use, and how he can use them to get items. Still, this is generally another Kirby game.

LENGTH: 4.5/10.0
Kirby is a very short game. While there are a decent amount of levels and worlds to play, they're quite easy to beat. Sure you'll probably die a few times, but when you do, you don't start at the beginning of the level, but at the start of the area you were in when you died. The game can be beaten easily in a few hours.

REPLAY VALUE: 8.0/10.0
Thankfully, Kirby has at least a decent amount of Replay Value. You'll want to play the levels over and over to find all of the Crystal Shards you missed. You'll also want to combine every possible power together to see all of Kirby's special attacks. Another reason to replay the levels is the find ? Cards, which contain info on the enemies, and are stored in a special file (so you can collect them all!). You have the chance to grab one of the 81 cards at the end of each level. Finally, Kirby contains three mini-games for you to play with friends or the computer. HAL is very good when it comes to mini-games, and seem to have saved a few excellent games for Kirby 64. Each has several levels of difficulty, which not only make the computer opponents tougher, but sometimes change how the game is played.

FUN: 8.5/10.0
Kirby is a fun game, and you'll enjoy playing through it, despite it's ease. The levels are fun and loaded with interesting situations and enemies. The mine cart/sled levels are great fun at a fast pace. You may also get a little fun out of the mini-games, although they won't make Kirby 64 become a major game you'll play with your friends.

Precise Score: 7.15384

Kirby is essentially a newer version of the classic games we love, but like many of his past adventures, doesn't last all that long to complete. For those of you that are sickened by anything cute, Kirby has enough cute elements to make you not like this game. If you loved the past Kirby games, you'll love this. If you didn't, chances are you won't like this one either. If you've never played them, give Kirby a run and see what you think. Kirby is too short for me to recommend a purchase, but I wholeheartedly support every platform fan out there to go out and rent this game. If you're an absolute Kirby nut, you can lengthen the game by collecting all the Shards and ? Cards, and by playing multiplayer, so you may consider a purchase.


Rating:   3.5 - Good

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