Review by DanKirby

Reviewed: 10/13/01 | Updated: 10/13/01

What? You mean there's been 64 Kirby games?! Oh, I see...

Is that old vacuum in the corner collecting more dust than it sucks up? Is it as effective at cleaning the house as driving a lawn mower through the living room? Or are you just tired of those $30.00 vacuum bags? Then you need to pick up a brand new Kirby!!...

...Or something like that. Did you know that Kirby was actually named for a vacuum cleaner company? You did? Oh. Well then...back to the game...

Kirby 64 is one of the latest installments of Nintendo/HAL's very successful Kirby series...which is what the name seems to suggest. Anyway, this was the end result of what was a long period of planning, changing, scrapping, etc., for a Kirby game on the N64. Some may not think so, but it didn't come out too bad.

For those not too Kirby-inclined until this point, Kirby is basically a pink ball with a bottomless stomach. All you scientists trying to research black holes...just take a look at this guy.
Kirby can inhale blocks, items, enemies, nearly anything. And if the enemy inhaled has a special power, he'll be able to use that power. Not a bad deal, I say.

But that's all for Kirby History 101. What's this game like?

In the beginning of The Crystal Shards, the evil Dark Matter returns, and is after the Crystal possessed by the fairies of Ripple Star. On exactly why, Dark Matter could not be reached for comment.
Sensing the seriousness of the situation, a small fairy named Ribbon takes the crystal and flees Ripple Star, only to be chased by 3 Dark Matter beings. They shatter the crystal, sending the pieces all over the star system, and Ribbon falls to Popstar below. She meets Kirby, and tells her story. Being the big hero he is, Kirby agrees to help find the crystal shards. Hey, that's the name of this game, isn't it?..

As Kirby's previous games were on systems like the NES, Gameboy, and SNES, they were all in a 2D environment. It seems that the guys behind the pink puff didn't want to stray from his roots. But how to do it on a 3D-oriented system like Nintendo 64? Games like Yoshi's Story tried to stick to strictly 2D, and were terrible. Then again, maybe that wasn't the problem...but that's another review.

What was decided on was a great mixture of 2D and 3D, something I've personally never seen before. In The Crystal Shards, the world Kirby travels through is quite 3D, with action happening in all areas. But Kirby's movement is limited to the 2D style of up, down, left, and right. Though I personally would've liked a true 3D Kirby game, the style doesn't make it any less of a game.

This '2.5D' style makes for very interesting gameplay. There are points where you can see enemies in the background ready to attack Kirby, and you have to be ready for when they actually come close to him to attack or dodge them. You also encounter cannons firing from places outside Kirby's field of movement, where you must get behind sections of wall that will block the incoming fire.

Of course, there are many more unique gameplay features throughout the game. Kirby's allies will often happen along to help him through tough areas. Interestingly enough, Kirby's allies once appeared as enemies in previous games...things change, I guess.
Aside from the standard powers Kirby finds on the enemies, K64 introduces the ability to combine powers to form even more interesting combinations! Bomb + Cutter gives Kirby exploding Ninja stars! Spark + Cutter lets him use a double-bladed lightsaber! Stone + Needle turns him into a drill! And Fire + Ice gives him the thoroughly useless Burning Ice Cube...

But that's not all... (Ugh, I sound like an ad...again...)
Kirby 64 also features the great music always present in the Kirby series. Though the Kirby music is a bit underrated, as I never see it mentioned in any ''Best Video Game Music'' polls (unless I mention it), every game has always featured at least one great piece of music. The Factory on Level 5, the boss battles, and the best of all, the Final Battle. Just wait until you hear it.

...Which probably won't be long. My only real big problem with this game is that it's way too short. Even when you add in the time taken to collect all of the Crystal Shards, the play time is still incredibly low.

But after finishing the game, you can still have plenty of fun playing the three multiplayer games. They may seem easy at first, but wait until the higher difficulties before you judge them. Hehehe...
And you could always play the game all over again. Though it may be even easier the second time through, I think it's worth it, especially to see the humorous cutscenes.

So there you have it. Kirby 64, an incredible, unique game, though it could've had a bit more of a challenge to it. Now, where's that vacuum?...

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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