Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
|Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards|
North American box art
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards[a] is a side-scrolling platform game in the Kirby series developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the their Nintendo 64 home video game console. It is the sequel to Kirby's Dream Land 3.
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is a side-scrolling platform game with gameplay similar to previous Kirby games where the titular character Kirby has the ability to inhale enemies and objects and extract their abilities. Kirby travels across six planets, which consist of separate levels, and collect the scattered pieces of a Crystal, which is used to defeat the game's main villain, Dark Matter.
There are seven different copy abilities in Kirby 64, and any two can be merged to create a new one. The seven basic abilities are Burning, Stone, Ice, Needle, Bomb, Spark, and Cutter. Though Kirby only needs one element in his body to gain an extra attack, copy abilities can also be merged with abilities of the same type for more powerful versions of the basic abilities. In total, there are 35 abilities to combine and stand-alone. Usually, combined ones are stronger or have added effects. This is the only game in the Kirby series where Kirby can directly combine copy abilities (save for the very restricted combinations with the Sword and Bomb abilities in Kirby: Squeak Squad and status additions in Kirby Star Allies).
Three minigames can be played separate from the main quest. Each game can be played by 1–4 players on difficulty levels (Easy, Medium, Hard, Intense). Playable characters in multiplayer are Kirby, Waddle Dee, Adeleine, and King Dedede.
Ripple Star, a planet populated by fairies, is invaded and conquered by Dark Matter. Ribbon, one of the fairies, flees from home with their sacred treasure, the great Crystal. In their pursuit, three Dark Matter shatter the Crystal into pieces throughout the galaxy and Ribbon falls onto Pop Star. Ribbon, heartbroken to find she is left with only one of the shards, helps Kirby, being predicament and agrees to retrieving all the Crystal Shards and save Ripple Star from the Dark Matter's control. Kirby and Ribbon enlist the help of Waddle Dee, Adeleine, and King Dedede, who each find a Crystal Shard, and are attacked and possessed by Dark Matter, forcing Kirby to defeat them in battle in order to save them from the Dark Matter, and they continue to search for the pieces across the galaxy. Kirby and the group restore the Crystal and eventually reach Ripple Star, where they purge the planet and its queen of Dark Matter's influence using the restored Crystal. However, a powerful presence of the last Dark Matter is expelled from the Fairy Queen and forms a new planet called Dark Star, where Kirby and Ribbon confront and defeat 02 (Zero Two), the revived form of Zero, using the Crystal. Dark Star is obliterated, and Kirby and the group are hailed as heroes for saving Ripple Star.
The development of Kirby 64 lasted 3 years from 1997, right after Kirby's Dream Land 3, to early 2000. It was originally planned for the Nintendo 64DD, but the DD did not sell well, so it was switched to cartridge format, along with the eventually canceled Super Mario RPG 2, Fire Emblem 64 and Mother 3
In an early prototype, the game had a different control scheme, as the joysick moved Kirby. To make the game easier to play for younger children, HAL made the control pad move Kirby instead of the joystick.
Screenshots of an early version of the game were originally posted on Nintendo.com on June 1, 1999. They showed Waddle Dee, Adeleine, and King Dedede as playable characters throughout the game, which appeared to feature many more aquatic levels than the finished product. Some of these elements were removed in the final retail version, though King Dedede was still playable in certain stages.
The game was released on the Nintendo Virtual Console service, and for the Kirby 20th Anniversary 6-pack known as Kirby's Dream Collection. Additionally, the game was made available to download through the Wii U's Virtual Console on June 25, 2015 in Europe and July 30, 2015 in North America.
Kirby 64 received "generally favorable reviews" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. Many reviewers accused the game of being too short and easy while others enjoyed the varied level design and colorful graphics. GameSpot said, "While some might be initially put off by the youthful nature of Kirby 64, the depth of the power combo system really brings a lot to what would otherwise be an average platformer." IGN's Aaron Boulding also spoke highly of the ability combination mechanic, stating that "this is one of the most innovative ideas we've seen in a videogame in a long time." In Japan, Famitsu gave it a score of one seven, one nine, and two eights for a total of 32 out of 40.
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