Looking Back – Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

Wow. I can’t believe it’s the end of the series already; it feels like I just started talking about Kirby’s Dreamland not too long ago. Y’know, I’ll be the first to admit that my commentary wasn’t the greatest throughout the series, but I hope it was still enjoyable enough to read. And… uh… I don’t really have anything else for a snappy intro, so let’s get started, yeah?

When I think of truly great Kirby games, I think of two titles: Kirby Super Star and Kirby 64. Kirby Super Star, even a decade after it came out, is still the go-to two-player game around here. I know I talk about it a lot, but it’s pretty much the defining ‘thing’ of my childhood.

Kirby 64, however, is special in a completely different way: For the first time since Kirby’s Adventure, Kirby has completely changed. First, it was in 3D, so your bright and colorful – and sometimes terrifying – Kirby landscapes were made even brighter and happier (or darker and more terrifying). Yeah, the graphics were kind of awful, but still it was Kirby with all the big vibrant colors you expect from the series, except polygonal!

The second thing that makes Kirby 64 stand out is something that’s unfortunately never been attempted since: Ability combos. For the first time in a Kirby game, you could combine two abilities to get a brand new one! Sure, some of them were useless (the ice/fire combination, for instance), but the idea was solid and it helped make for some really nifty powers and puzzles. The only real problem with the idea is that it probably wouldn’t work too terribly well with how later Kirby games have taken a Super Star approach and given each ability their own full moveset. We’d either have to get rid of a lot of abilities or cut down on the moves so the system isn’t completely overwhelming.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of too much else to say about this game. Aside from those two fairly big changes, it still brought the same Kirby formula we’d been seeing since Dreamland 2: Go through worlds, fight bosses, fight a fake boss, and then – if you got all the collectibles – fight the real boss. I guess, in the end, this was really more of an excuse to relive my memories of the games and take a good, deep look at everything. Y’know, answer things like what makes Kirby near-perfect to me. The Kirby series is easily my favorite and despite how much I harp on about Chrono Trigger, I’d be more willing to play Kirby Super Star any day. This series shaped my childhood and it has a lot of stuff you don’t see too often nowadays. It’s not afraid to be happy and bright, it’s not afraid to be fairly easy (not counting 100% completion), it’s not afraid to say “Yeah, this is a family friendly series. So what?”. The fact that it still doesn’t care about what everyone else is doing makes it what it is to me.

So, yeah. I know that’s a lot of rambling up there, but… If you’ve never played a Kirby game, go out and try them. It’s really the overall theme of this entire retrospective piece. Don’t look at these games for what they are now, don’t look at them alongside what’s happening today, don’t expect them to be up to the ‘usual quality’. Appreciate them for what they are and how they shaped the games that followed and the industry as a whole. Nostalgia may be why I write this, but seeing how we’ve changed since then is a bonus. Anyway, I’m just gonna leave you guys with my favorite bit of music from the series before I start tearing up as I look back on everything. As always, thanks for reading and have a good’un.

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2 Responses to Looking Back – Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

  1. Nhan-Fiction says:

    Kirby 64 is awesome. :)

    • I honestly never received a notification for this. Damnit, WordPress! But yeah, easily one of the more under-appreciated Kirby games. It decided to try something different and while the execution wasn’t the best (fire/ice says hi), it was a REALLY cool idea that I hope they revisit sometime.

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