Review by Jaksiel

Reviewed: 08/05/00 | Updated: 01/07/02

A fun diversion for a weekend.

When the N64 first came out, they were rumored to be making a game by the name of Kirby’s Air Ride. Apparently, this was supposed to be some type of racing game...but eventually, Nintendo pulled the plug. Kirby’s Air Ride was cancelled. This left the little pink puffball without an N64 game to call his own (though he was a playable character in Super Smash Bros.). Nintendo has finally released a game starring Kirby though, a game going by the name of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Will this game live up to Kirby’s previous adventures, or will it fall flat on its face? Well...read on!

STORY:
From what I gathered, I think the story in Kirby 64 goes like this: Some Dark Matter attacks Kirby’s Planet, Ripple Star, and a fairy tries to escape with the planet’s precious crystal. While being chased by the Dark Matter, she falls and the crystal breaks into many pieces (72 to be exact). It’s up to Kirby to recover as many of those shards as he can!

GRAPHICS: 9/10
Kirby 64 taking the same 2 ½ D approach as Yoshi’s Story, meaning that the objects you can actually use and interact with are 3D, but the background is strictly 2D. However, Kirby 64 pulls this off much better that Yoshi’s Story. The backgrounds are much more alive in Kirby 64, and they help create that immersive experience you’re always looking for in a vide game. Of course, Kirby and his enemies give off that “cutesy” feel, but you should have expected that from this type of game.

SOUND: 9/10
I’ll just come right out and state that I love the music in Kirby 64. It’s always appropriate for the area you’re currently in, and it’s catchy to boot. My personal favorite tune is the one you hear when boarding the spaceship in one level. The sound effects aren’t spectacular, but they get the job done quite well. Occasionally, the sound effects for Kirby’s various powers are fun to hear.

CONTROL: 10/10
Well, Kirby games have always been a snap to control, and Kirby 64 is no exception. Being a side-scroller, the analog is not used; rather you use the D-Pad to move around. To jump is A; to puff up and start flying is pressing A when you’re in the air. You press B to swallow an enemy, and B to spit it back out. You could also press down to swallow the enemy, thereby granting you access to its power! To get the more powerful double power combos, you must swallow something, then press R or L to hold the power over your head. You can then throw it to kill an enemy, and if that enemy had a power, a double power will result!

GAMEPLAY: 9/10
Anyone who’s EVER played a Kirby game will be comfortable with the way Kirby 64 plays out. Nintendo wisely chose to keep Kirby as a side-scroller, which of course makes it difficult to get lost. As mentioned above, the main goal of Kirby 64 is to collect the Crystal Shards. To do this, you must play through 6 worlds that have 3-4 different levels within and a boss battle. Each level has 3 shards to collect, and then you also win one shard from defeating the boss of the world. Some shards are out in the open, but most require a certain power to get them. This is indicated by colored obstacles, such as a shard that’s covered by something that’s green-and-yellow requires the Cutter-Spark power to obtain. And while we’re on the subject of powers...there are 7 powers available to Kirby in the game: Fire, Ice, Stone, Spark, Cutter, Needle, and Bomb. Sure, these powers are good, and they’re better than just having Kirby without any power, but the real fun in the game comes from combining powers. If you’ve never played before, it’s a treat to watch Kirby transform into something else when using double powers. My personal favorite is the Spark-Cutter combo, which results in Kirby wielding a Darth Maul-esque double-edged lightsaber. Another cool combo is the Stone-Bomb, in which Kirby throws a stick of dynamite and you have a short time to protect yourself from the explosion by donning a hard hat. Though a few combos are pretty much useless, most are fun to use AND watch, and you’ll probably never get tired of them. Besides the main game, there are also three Mario Party-esque mini-games in Kirby 64: 100-Yard Hop, Bumper Crop Bump, and Checkerboard Chase. 100-Yard hop is a race to the finish line. Seems easy, but you have to avoid obstacles along the way which will slow you down if you hit them. In Bumper Crop Bump, you’re trying to catch fruit falling from a tree. Of course, you don’t just move left and right...you can switch places with your opponents if you’re right next to them. Finally, Checkerboard Chase is a game where you’re on a giant checkerboard and you’re trying to avoid falling into an abyss. You get 5 chances, but then you’re out of the game and the board gets smaller. Now that I’ve come through with the positives, it’s time for the negative: Kirby 64 is EXTREMELY easy. Some of the shards require some thinking, but most of the bosses are a piece of cake and don’t require much effort. Also, you get unlimited continues, so there’s never that sense of urgency you should have in a game.

REPLAY: 4/10
THUD! There’s no real reason to play through Kirby 64 again after beating it once. Sure, trying out all of the different powers is cool, but if you wanted to do that, you could just fool around on the 2nd level of the 1st world since all 7 powers are available there. You could try to get all 81 enemy info cards, but I must ask, why? Unless you need that feeling of completing everything a game has to offer, there’s no reason to do this. You don’t get anything special from collecting all of the cards. And the mini-games can be a fun diversion, but they’re quite simple, and the fun doesn’t last.

BUY/RENT: RENT!
Unless you’re an absolute Kirby nut who must have every Kirby game, this is a definite rental. You can experience everything this game has to offer within a 3-to-5 day rental period. Myself, I was able to beat the game with 100% in three days...not something you want from a game you own...

PROS: Good audio/video, fun for a while, Kirby’s powers are cool.
CONS: Very easy, not that much replay value.

OVERALL: 7.9/10
ROUNDED TO FIT GAMEFAQS SCORE: 8
Sure, Kirby 64 is good fun for a while, but as stated above, there’s no real reason for a purchase. You can get everything out of this game for only $5...or however much it costs to rent a game where you live.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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