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Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (Nintendo 64) artwork

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (Nintendo 64) review


"Once a Kirby game is released, you know itís going to drift away from the pack. Itís going to be innovative, itís going to be simple, itís going to be clean, and you know itís going to be fun to play, even if all the other aspects fall to pieces. Itís just that trademark stability that motivates my purchase. No Kirby games have let me down thus far, and as you can already guess from this blatant presentation, this one bears no exceptions. "



Once a Kirby game is released, you know itís going to drift away from the pack. Itís going to be innovative, itís going to be simple, itís going to be clean, and you know itís going to be fun to play, even if all the other aspects fall to pieces. Itís just that trademark stability that motivates my purchase. No Kirby games have let me down thus far, and as you can already guess from this blatant presentation, this one bears no exceptions.

Platformers were never known for elaborate storylines. They tend to chop up the storyline, put them to the side and add a trinket or two to something of a higher magnitude. Kirby seems to go with the flow here, despite my opening sentence. The story begins with our wicked nemesis, Dark Matter, trying to embezzle a sacred crystal from the fairies of Ripple Star. One particularly bold fairy named Ribbon attempts to stop him in his tracks. In a crazy mishmash for the crystal, it shatters apart; and each of the íshardsí drift off to an entirely different planet than the others.

This is where our escapade begins. One thing you might have noticed by now are the incredibly bubbly and vivacious graphics. They tend to follow suit with the rest of the game, however nothing less is expected from an installment of such a series. While the youthful prowess of Kirby 64 may turn a few gamers off, Nintendo tried to make a game suitable for all ages, and a rental is heartily recommended (more so than a purchase).

The gameplay is as straightforward as it gets, as the 2-D platformer genre insists. However, straightforward gameplay among other things can not deprive the swelling charm and innovation. Most noteworthy is the combat; Kirby can suck up and steal the abilities of a plethora of different adversaries. Ranging from shooting fire to becoming a stone owl, creating giant snowflakes out of the blue and swinging a sharp blade of grass as an effective boomerang, all of these aptitudes are fun to use. I am very thankful for this, as these abilities are used often.

Best of all; the abilities can be combined. If you would like to fuse your stone and your grass powers, feel free. Itís fun to experiment with these combos and see which one is most powerful, which is easiest to use, or whatever floats your boat. Battles are always welcome and a refreshing pause from the- well, this is a combat oriented game, save for the occasional puzzle or cutscene. One of the more drastic changes from the other games of the series happens to be the flying. In other games, Kirby would just soar from level to level, ignoring his bedazzled foes. Now, some of the enemies can fly as well, and the screen doesnít scroll as far up as usual. Whether you find such changes a fault or an improvement is entirely up to you; but I find them a step up from the norm.

Kirbyís health meter is composed of five crystals and a few lives. Every hit Kirby takes either a chunk or a whole crystal off his bar, and whenever he loses all five, a catchy little jingle symbolizing his demise plays, and one more live is knocked off the bar as he is placed at the beginning of the level. Although this may seem insignificant, as the pink puffball has unlimited continues. It amazes me how many games are befallen with this tricky little error.

The environments are real eye candy. The 2-D scrolling with 3-D graphics effect blends smoothly. Sort of like Donkey Cong Country, but a little less realistic. Not to say Kirby doesnít take advantage of such a graphical innovation, his direction of travel is not limited to left and right, Kirby travels in all different angles. Another cool thing worth mentioning about the graphics are the addition of the foreground and background. Sometimes bushes, twigs, and tunnels overlap Kirby as he strides along. A great example of the background effects take place on a spiral staircase; you can see the other side as it slopes upward, windows and all, as you progress further.

The sounds are just as bubbly as the graphics, if not more. Composed of cheerful, fast-paced tracks that seem to be played by woodwind instruments. Thereís the same old ringing of health restoration when you swallow a Maxim Tomato, thereís that painful sound of ripping paper whenever Kirby receives a fatal blow. It seems like Kirby games were meant to brighten your spirits. I mean, all the evidence is clear; the cheerful tunes, the low difficulty, the simplistic gameplay, and the colorful, lighthearted graphics.

One of Kirby 64ís few unappealing characteristics is the short length. As stated before, this game can be completed in three hefty sittings. It seems like the added extras are there to counteract the short length. Which, if you think about it, means the developers admit to creating a short game. Here you will find a few Mario Party-esque minigames, and even a card gallery with limited information about your edible foes. Nothing as extravagant as Final Fantasy Xís blitzball or anything of the sort. You can also backtrack to any level you wish, including boss fights.

Kirby 64 is not an amazing game, but it is recommended. If you can adapt to the youthful presentation, shrug off the mediocre length, and ignore any minor nitpicks you might have, an enjoyable platformer awaits you.

Rating: 7.0/10

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Community review by meeptroid (December 09, 2004)

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