(N64 / Nintendo 64)

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64 / Nintendo 64)

Game Review

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Not Kirby's finest hour

Since the first Kirby game, we've seen our puffy pink friend in a series of high quality platform adventures (not to mention spin-offs) up until the release of Kirby 64 back in 2000. Despite predictably rendering Kirby's world in 3D for the first time, true to form for a N64 outing our pals at HAL Laboratories have retained its platform adventure roots and kept the action in 2D.

The main game is separated into six stars, each with four levels culminating in a boss battle. As Kirby, you waddle through each level finding secret crystals and inhaling bad guys to absorb their powers. In addition to Kirby's trademark waddle you can also run and even inflate yourself in order to fly for a short period of time.

The abilities you can absorb include being able to turn into a walking rock, and freezing enemies with icy breath. Kirby can also now absorb two abilities at once to create a hybrid power. If you swallow a cutter creature followed by a fire creature you will get a flaming sword attack, for instance. Some of these combined abilities are frankly useless so when you get hold of a power that works for you it is worth trying to hang on to it.

The ambitious hybrid abilities system ends up being a bit of an Achilles heel, however. Most of the powers only have one action, activated with a simple button press and very few offer anything more than this. After the variety experienced in Kirby's Super Star this feels like a huge backwards step. In addition, the Street Fighter-like special moves system that Super Star introduced has been dropped here, leaving Kirby 64 feeling a little flat in comparison.

Completing all six stars shouldn't be too much of a challenge for most gamers, but you will only see a partial ending scene. The true challenge is found in collecting all three crystal shards which are hidden in each level. If you manage to do this, you will then fight a new end of game boss and be treated to the full game ending. For the completionists among us this will be a welcome task, but it is likely that many gamers will pass on this advanced quest as after a while it can begin to feel like a chore.

On the whole the 3D models and backgrounds stand up well in comparison to the earlier 2D sprite-based counterparts. Kirby himself looks great, and there are also nice lighting effects, such as the red glow from lava on certain levels, which really add to the atmosphere of the game. The translation to 3D fell a little short, however, with some of the enemies, which are plagued by poor textures and flat colouring. Disappointingly, when compared to their 2D counterparts they feel a bit lifeless and uninspired.

In true Kirby form there are lots of mini-games to keep you occupied way after the main game is finished. Some of these can be played with four players. They are all fairly simple and unlikely to hold your attention for long, but they are a welcome addition and round off the package nicely.


Overall Kirby 64 is a bit of a disappointment. Not a disappointment of epic proportions, but compared to Kirby's previous outings it feels a little flat. It lacks the attention to detail and charm that define the series as a whole. For platform/adventure fans this is definitely still worth a look. It's not a bad platformer by any means – it just had a lot to live up to.

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User Comments (39)



Egg_miester said:

sadly i bought this game last year when i first got my wii and after 3 stages i never played it again, i wish i knew it be that disappointing before i got it, kirby's adventure is better



Objection said:

I think this score should be higher. I do need to try Kirby's Adventure though...



Ferret75 said:

Okay, no offense, but why the hell is this getting a 5/10?
It should be at least 9/10 in my opinion.

Best Kirby game ever.



Nintendork said:

^ Okay, I'm curious. Why, no, HOW can you even like this? IMO the game's too slow, Kirby moves like a fat lard when walking regularly, and some of the bosses require ridiculously perfect jumps to hit a microscopic weak spot.



Digiki said:

Kirby moves like a fat lard when walking regularly, and some of the bosses require ridiculously perfect jumps to hit a microscopic weak spot.

1. Run don't walk. Problem solved. That's like complaining that an RPG sucks because the initial equipment is weak.
2. What are you talking about? Bosses are easy, and in most cases their hitbox is like they're entire body.



Nintendork said:

^ "Run don't walk. Problem solved."
You shouldn't have to constantly dash. Kirby's Adventure didn't have that problem.

"2. What are you talking about? Bosses are easy, and in most cases their hitbox is like they're entire body"
What are YOU talking about? Nobody I know can beat the second boss (I know like 10 people who own this game).

In conclusion, Kirby 64 took everything great about this amazing series and overcomplicated it.



Shinnok said:

I loved Kirby 64, thought it was quite easy, but do agree that Kirby moves like a fat lard.



Ferret75 said:

@10: Actually, a few of the later bosses are pretty hard to beat actually, especially Dark Matter.

@9: You don't need "perfect jumps". In case you didn't notice, Kirby can fly. Erm, most oif the bosses can just be hit anywhere assumming they're in a vulnerable state. I like this game because of the cutscenes, nice graphics and music, and most importantly, the gameplay. The mixing abilities is not in any other Kirby game, the helpers are a nice bonus, the crystal shards add for a lot of replayability, and the mini-games are fun to play with friends.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Indeed. Checkerboard Chase is awesome! A friend of mine lemme try Kirby 64 for the first time one day years back and that was what we played. I never forgot how much fun I had with it and when it finally came to the VC, I instantly downloaded it realizing that I could finally not only own the game but play through it for the first time.

The 5 is completely undeserved as I think it's one of the best Kirby games I've played. Deserves an 8 at the very least. In my books, though, it's a 9/10.



Digiki said:

Alright Miracle Matter is isn't a pushover, but it still isn't hard, everything else though is pretty feeble.

Agreed KS8, this is my favourite Kirby as well.



Pastry said:

Change the score to an 8. I think this is one of the best games available on the VC.



WyvernKnight64 said:

Wow I am surprised how bad of a beating this game received in the review. Its got nothing on Kirby Super Star but it is still very fun to play. IMO this is better than Kirbys Adventure. BTW this is the first Kirby game I played.



SergeOfArniVillage said:

This game isn't quite as good as Kirby Super Star: that game is almost perfect, , but I think Kirby 64 is really great too! I loved how you could combine things to make really unique weapons, I loved the sheer personality of the game, finding the crystal shards was REALLY challenging to me (although maybe I'm just retarded, XD): yeah, I don't get why it got only 5/10, it honestly deserves more



CanisWolfred said:

Actually, now that I've read it, this is a pretty fair review. I still love this game, but it doesn't have the same charm as the rest of the series(the problem is, I never found this series very charming).

And I see now that I'm not the only one who found this game somewhat challenging. That makes me slightly less self-concious.



pitkun said:

Do you mean naseous? I think someone told me that the correct term to use is nauseated, anyway, I really liked kirby 64, I guess its subjective, since I LOVE KIRBY, and I think its quite different from Kirby's adventure in many ways, btw I thought that dark matter was quite easy, either way you get to start over from the boss fight unless you lose all your lives, plus there's lots of things to collect, I didn't even know you could fight dark matter till I played it again; I thought the last boss was that cube thing hehe.



Namo said:

Christ, what the hell is wrong with the reviewers here? This game is a masterpiece. Sure, not as good as the other Kirby games, but still incredible in its own merits.

sigh... at this point, IGN seems like the better site to go to for game reviews.



wiiplayer26 said:

Wow...Just....Wow. It plays exactly like Kirby's Adventure and it gets a 5? What the Heck! It should get an 8 no lower. It plays exactly like Kirby's Adventure and you don't like it? I don't see why people are saying that this game is bad.



capsulejoe said:

to be honest, i have no idea what everyone here is on about. Kirby 64 to me is the second best kirby game after kirby super star. YES it was easy but finding all crystal shards was as difficult and FUN and hell. What about the music? the character design? the awesome bosses- by the way who the hell thought the second boss was difficult? you just jump and attack!
And of course, you're missing out the best point, the final boss, with zero twos awesome music



capsulejoe said:

sorry i clicked post comment accidentally, zero two is the best designed boss apart from earthbound's Gygas.



tabris95 said:

How can you say this game lacks charm? You can turn into a REFRIGERATOR!! Seriously though, this game was an 8 for it's time and a 7 now. Still worth playing.



Stevie42 said:

5/10? At it again...neither this or Kirby's Dreamland 3 deserve low scores! This game, while I realise it relies more on enemies and combinations than design -which was the focus in Kirby's Adventure-, it is still a very good Kirby game and entierly a triute to the wonderful (apart from those annoying memory challanges where you have to keep restarting the level!) Dreamland 3. It's fun trying new ones out and the puzzles you come across trying to get a crystal shard are fun, if not too imaginative all of the time. Still, on it's own merits it deserves a 7/7.5



Poketendo said:

I dont think i am going get that kirby super star. i think ill get this one. kirby super star looks to much like kirby super star ultra ds and i already have that one.



fairybats said:

I have to admit, I love all the Kirby games and this one is no exception. 8/10 for me



SparkOfSpirit said:

Well deserved score. I'm a big Kirby fan, but this is the weakest console Kirby game by far. I'm glad Hal learned their lesson with this and have yet to slack again.



CrimsonMoonMist said:

I personally really enjoyed this title.
Like Super Star's expanded ability movesets,
the ability mixing makes for a unique experience
and I liked experimenting with different combinations.



Tryken said:

I'm going to throw down some civil disagreement on this review (bam!).

I just recently started playing the game after fixing my Nintendo 64, and I found it to be pretty enjoyable. It's a lot slower pace than previous (and later) Kirby entries, but it holds plenty of the charm of Kirby. It's slower paced, yes, and that took some adjustment. However, I'm halfway through the third world and enjoying myself much, much more than I did with Kirby's Yarn, an entry which retains none of Kirby's charm yet somehow scored higher than Kirby 64 on NintendoLife.

I'd probably give this Kirby closer to a 7/10 than a 5/10 at this stage of my time with it.

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