Review by brutusmuktuk
Simple, yet irresistible
I have fond memories as a child playing and replaying Kirbys Adventure for the NES. My brother and I probably completed that game hundreds of times apiece. Only Nintendo could have the imagination to create a game based around a little pink puffball that sucks up enemies and absorbs their powers after swallowing them. This ingenious gameplay mechanic helps keep the series fresh. Where most games have a hero who has a limited skill set, Kirby has all the skills. Kirbys entry into the Nintendo 64 doesnt disappoint, and it has upped the bar by allowing Kirby to mix and match enemy powers. Sure its a little on the easy side, but the Kirby series is not known for its high difficulty. For the Kirby fan, this is well worth the money, and for everyone else, theres still plenty to enjoy.
+ Mixing and matching enemy powers
+ Exploring the many different levels
Some abilities are useless
It can be difficult to tell which ability is needed to break open a secret area
~ I miss the wheel ability from Kirbys Adventure
Nintendo boasts Kirby 64 as the first 3D entry in the series, but to say it is 3D is not exactly accurate. Sure theres a 3D world surrounding Kirby, but Kirby travels on a, more or less, 2D path, like he does in the other games in the series. This is probably for the best, however, as Kirby translated to full 3D a la Mario and Zelda would create some problems. Sucking up enemies would prove troublesome when you have to continue correcting your position to face said enemies. True 3D would also be a frustration when it comes to implementing the new dual ability feature.
Kirby can now mix two enemy abilities in order to create a new ability, or a stronger version of a previous ability. You can either suck up two enemies at once, or you can spit one enemy at another and suck up whats left, or you can throw an ability at another enemy to fuse the two. In a 3D world, this would be an impossible task, but since Kirby moves on a 2D plane, the aiming part of throwing an ability at an enemy is much easier.
The downside is that there are only seven core abilities, but this still leaves Kirby with over thirty abilities to choose from. Since all abilities achieve the same end that is, they kill enemies the choice is more for cosmetic reasons than practical ones. Some of my favorites include the double-sided lightsaber, fireworks, exploding ninja star, a drill, and a refrigerator that throws food. Other creative choices include an ice-skating ability and a transformation into a curling stone, though these arent as effective as the above listed abilities. Certainly not all abilities are equal. The worst ones arent necessarily ineffective, but tend to leave Kirby vulnerable. The fireball, as has always been the case, always seems to end just as Kirby is about to crash into another enemy. There are also a couple of bomb abilities, TNT and snowman bomb, that damage to Kirby and should be avoided at all costs.
The more powerful abilities can easily get you through the game if you choose to stick with just one. Most bosses are a synch to defeat with the strongest abilities. For gaming purists out there, though, Nintendo offers incentives to use different abilities. For one, you probably want to try all combinations just for the fun of it. For another, if you want to collect all of the games crystal shards, you will need to use certain abilities. In most levels, there are objects that, when you destroy them, uncover a crystal shard. These objects are generally made up of one or two colors that correspond with the color of each ability. For example, an object made up of yellow and green colors means you need to mix the lightning and cutter abilities to destroy it. Oftentimes, you will need to replay levels multiple times in order to acquire the abilities and then uncover the hidden crystal shard. Luckily you can quit a level once you find what you went there for. The problem I had, however, was that at times it was difficult to tell what abilities I needed to use. Telling the difference in color between the red (fire) and pink (needle) abilities was impossible at times. In order to prevent replaying levels needlessly I found it was best to check one of the FAQs on this site frequently.
A lot of reviews Ive read say the game is on the easy and short side, which, for a while, discouraged me from picking it up. However, I found the game was a bit more challenging and longer than expected. Its not that the game is difficult by any means, but it provides a moderate challenge. I died quite a bit (though I also had tons of lives), and some of the final bosses provide a decent challenge until you get the hang of them. Of course, I will admit the games many sub-bosses are pieces of cake. They are more challenging if you fight them without an ability, but if you do have an ability, almost any ability, they are a breeze. As for the length, the game lasts a good eight hours, good for a level-based, linear platform game, at least. You unlock some mini-games at the end that add to the game length depending on how much you enjoy them (theyre okay).
Amidst games that aim at increasing complexity, Kirbys simplicity is refreshing. You dont have to spend hours searching for that one last crystal shard because there are only so many hiding places. While there are a myriad of powers to choose from, they all essentially do the same thing that is, kill enemies, albeit in different ways. The real charm of the game is the pink puffball hero who can hold his breath and fly, and who turns into a real menace when he absorbs an enemys ability. For those who missed it, this is definitely a game worth checking out.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (US, 02/25/08)
Got Your Own Opinion?
Submit a review and let your voice be heard.