N64 review week begins with one of my very favorite childhood video games, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards! Outside of the Smash Bros. franchise, this is probably one of the only times you’ll see Kirby in 3D. Righteous, right? That’s hardly the point, because 3D or not, Crystal Shards is probably the most complex, deep, and amazing Kirby game every to exist. I’ll give you a quickie of the plot, then we’ll discuss the more in-depth and gameplay stuff.
Once upon a time there was a peaceful kingdom of faeries on the planet Ripple Star. One day, an evil force known as the Dark Matter appeared, and engulfed the planet in darkness. In a panic, the princess ordered a fairy called Ribbon to take the planet’s sacred treasure, the Crystal, out and away from Ripple Star to keep it safe. The Dark Matter sees her escape, so it chases her and shatters the Crystal into shards that fly all over the solar system. Our hero, Kirby, witnesses this event as a star shower, until Ribbon falls to Pop Star and seeks his help. Always ready to help someone in need, Kirby and Ribbon set off on an adventure! How exciting!
The copy ability system in Crystal Shards is something you don’t see every day. There are a total of seven basic abilities available to Kirby, which can either be doubled or mixed up. That means a total of 63 total different abilities Kirby can use to kick ass, from fire swords to refrigerator forms. You’ll be impressed.
The planets Kirby travels to offer many different styles of stages. Pop Star consists of peaceful greenery, streams and hushed forests. Rock Star is a harsh world of deserts, mountains, and ancient ruins. Aqua Star should go without saying; most stages involve underwater action or beaches. Neo Star is a primal planet of deep jungles, volcanoes, and grasslands, somewhat reminiscent of the Pop Star stages. Shiver Star is a frozen world that’s home to factories, frozen wastes, and snow caves. Ripple Star is very civilized by fairy means, its stages usually involving moving from building to building, or going through sewers. Dark Star is… appropriately themed. It’s also a secret.
Throughout Kirby’s journey, he gains allies by defeating them while they’re possessed by Dark Matter, a direct result of coming on contact with a Crystal shard. Waddle Dee, the painter Adeleine, even King Dedede himself! All three of these chummy buddies will help you on your journey to collect every last one of the Crystal shards! And I mean every last one. If you don’t get them all, you’ll find yourself met with a very frightening ending, in which the princess herself becomes possessed by Dark Matter. If you collect them all, then the power of the Crystal forces the darkness from her, and it coalesces as the planet Dark Star.
This is the final level. The source of the great shadow that has fallen across the solar system. You thought Miracle Matter was a hard boss, what with him using all abilities against you, but nope. Zero Two is here to kick your ass, hardcore. This is probably one of the scariest bosses you’ll encounter in a game made for children. Zero Two is an white sphere with two great angelic wings, a glowing halo, and a red eye that bleeds. He has a bleeding eye. That freaked me out so badly. You have to use the artifact Crystal gun to shoot his weak points, then blast his cactus looking core point until he fades away and takes the Dark Matter with him.
I think the overall message of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is a positive one, if not basic. Kirby unites with old enemies in order to take on a greater threat, possibly a symbol for the nature of evil itself. It could be that the game’s telling us all to set aside our minor differences and work towards the greater good; to collect the shards of our hope and unite them to work towards and less dark future! I’m kidding, that’s pretty corny. But you do feel awesome when you beat this game, and the minigames are fun, too, so be sure to invite a few friends over to enjoy this N64 masterpiece.