Retro Review: Yo, it's Kirby Edition
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards marks Kirby's last platforming appearance on a home console, and with the advent of a new title in the series, I figured this was an apt opportunity for a little trip back in time.
How does it play? Kirby 64 is a fairly standard action platformer with a fairly standard story, but these ingredients come together in the hands of a talented developer to make an above-average game. An evil force has shattered the crystal that protects Ripple Star, and a fairy named Ribbon has stumbled upon Kirby holding one of these shards. The fairy enlists his help in finding the other scattered shards of said crystal and defeating the denizens of the dark force. They embark on a journey to six separate planets, picking up familiar members of the Kirby crew as they go along, including Waddle Dee, King Dedede, and Adeleine. The main gameplay hook here is that Kirby can utilize the powers of two enemies at once, combining them into powerful new attacks. The powers are varied and fresh; most feel solid and responsive, and some are downright destructive.
The platforming itself feels just as solid, even if it's not terribly challenging. This game was certainly aimed at a younger audience, but finding all of the crystal shards in a given level takes some definite thought. There's no steep learning curve here, and once you get the hang of the controls, you'll move through stages at a quick clip. When you do get messed up real bad by an enemy (or one of your own explosive attacks) and end up losing whatever rad power you were holding on to, you'll notice a bit of a challenge in getting back in the action with another good ability.
The story is well laid out and doesn't suffer too much from the aging process. it also features some fun multiplayer minigames, but at this point you'll mainly be playing on your own. I found the game very easy to enjoy after ten years, and whether you're controlling it with a GameCube controller or the Classic Controller, the game responds sharply to your inputs and feels like a precise, coherent experience, especially when you're sticking dudes in the face with exploding ninja stars, like "UH, UH, UH, UH, UH".