The pink blob is back in a new (well, old) game for Nintendo 64! It’s Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards! It boasts whimsical graphics, bouncy music, easy to learn controls, mediocre gameplay, and a rather small replay value!
That pretty much sums up Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, if you need to write a generalization about it for some stupid English class or something. But I am certainly not an English teacher, and I’m not here to give you generalizations. I am here to give you specifics.
Kirby 64 is a very fun game to play. It has a very light mood, and the controls are very easy to learn. It’s one of those “play for a couple minutes when you have time” games, because the levels are short enough to allow for that, the controls are easy enough to learn, and there generally aren’t any puzzles whatsoever. They do have certain types of puzzles, normally along the lines of something you have to break down with a special ability to get a crystal shard or something, but nothing too tough, and nothing that would stop you from moving on in the level.
Of course, Kirby’s ability to swallow enemies is instrumental in this game. There are a few different kinds of abilities, including Fire, Snow, and Cutter. You can combine all of these various abilities into a powerhouse of two abilities. This usually can produce more powerful abilities (for example, if you swallow one cutter enemy, then the ability is a moderately sized cutter boomerang type of attack. If you combine the two, you can get a gigantic-sized cutter boomerang attack).
This feature alone makes the game worth playing. There are over ten types of abilities out there, each producing a different effect by itself, and each able to be combined with other abilities. I’ve come across a fire sword ability and a psychic lightning strike ability. Quite awesome, if you ask me.
Kirby 64 excels in the fun department, along with the departments of music and mood. I mean, you play this game and you can’t help but have your mood lifted. However, Kirby 64 suffers in the actual gameplay and replay areas. The game does include a few minigames, which, granted, are fun the first few times you play them. But after those first few times, they just fall flat. In the actual game, the designers tried to boost the replay value, but failed. They scattered many crystal bits throughout all the levels, but frankly, at the end of the game, you don’t feel like going back and collecting EVERY SINGLE ONE.
The gameplay is substandard. The designers chose to create a side-scrolling platform game, but failed to include enough variety. Sure, there are a couple vehicle levels (mine carts, etc.), but they suffer from a few problems. For example, the mine cart is all of one minute long. They obviously tried to design it like the infamous Donkey Kong Country mine cart level, but failed horribly. They made it entirely too easy to jump from track to track, and only included a few obstacles on the track. So, while fun to play, the mine cart level was just not up to par.
The rest of the game suffers from repetition. The levels are different, and the scenery changes, but there is just too much of the same thing. Throughout most of the levels, it’s just grab an ability, fight the enemies, and walk to the right. There are a few moving platforms and such, but there just isn’t enough variety.
Kirby 64 is a very whimsical, uplifting game. It boasts a good plot, and very easy to learn controls. It is indeed one of the few “pick up and play” games that exists for the N64. Kirby games are normally famed for this particular characteristic. The designers kept true to that aspect, and did a very good job of such. All in all, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is a quality game that should not be played all at once, but rather, played over a longer period of time than other games. If I was in a strange English class and had to make a generalization about Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, I would change my previous one to this: Kirby 64 is a quality game, but it is more of a game for the casual gamer than anything else.