Kirby's Star Stacker, known in Japan as Kirby no Kirakira Kids (loosely translated to "Kirby's Sparkling Kids"), is a falling-block tile-matching puzzle game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy in Japan on January 25, 1997, with a North American release on July 14, 1997 and a European release on October 25, 1997. It also received a release on the Japanese Nintendo Power cart-writing kiosk on March 2000.
A puzzle game spin-off of the Kirby series of platformers, Kirby's Star Stacker plays similarly to games like Columns and Puyo Puyo, but with new elements that make use of the series' traditional "star" motif. Players guide two-block pieces, which can be rotated and swapped, and attempt to clear Star Blocks by sandwiching them together between two identical Friend Pieces (which resemble Rick, Kine, and Coo, Kirby's animal buddies from Kirby's Dream Land 2). As players form chain reactions, auto-clearing Star Blocks fall from the sky that not only grant bonus points, but allow new matches to form. Along with standard single-player modes (Round Clear, Challenge, and Time Attack), the game includes Versus multiplayer with use of the Game Link cable.
The game later received a Japanese-exclusive Super Famicom port, first released via the Nintendo Power cart-writing service on February 1998, then as a standard retail cartridge on June 25, 1999. Known informally in some circles as "Kirby's Super Star Stacker", this version features an updated art style based on Kirby's Dream Land 3, an updated same-screen Versus mode, and a new Story mode (where Kirby battles several baddies from the series in VS. CPU matches to rescue Hoshi-kun's pieces).
Both versions of the game were later released digitally on multiple platforms as Virtual Console titles, with the GB version released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2012-2013 and the SFC version released exclusively in Japan on the Wii (on January 5, 2010), the Wii U (on May 8, 2013), and the New Nintendo 3DS (on November 28, 2016). The SFC version later received a release on that platform's Nintendo Switch Online service, first in Japan on July 21, 2022, then worldwide on September 6, 2023. Despite using the "Kirby's Star Stacker" name, the worldwide Switch version keeps the original Japanese intact.
Objects fall from the sky in pairs of two. If the pile of friends and stars reaches the top of the gameplay area, the game is over. King DeDeDe's head sits on the right hand side of the screen. DeDeDe is there to make sure that Kirby makes as little progress as possible, and if he doesn't like what he sees, his head will turn into a fist. When this fist pounds down and shakes the screen, the level of blocks on the playing area will increase. Like in Tetris, if the blocks on the playing field reach to the top of the screen and no more can fit onto it without being pushed off the top, then the game will be over.
Creating a chain reaction will cause stars to fall from the sky. In other words, if deleting one pair of blocks causes another pair of blocks to be deleted, then more star blocks will fall from the top of the playing field and potentially create even more chain reactions, which will in turn cause even greater numbers of stars to drop onto the playing field. These star blocks always count towards the total score, and will always instantly disappear if they don't cause a reaction, preventing them from messing up the field.
Round Clear - Clear a certain number of stars to proceed to the next round.
Challenge - The game's endless mode, clear as many stars as possible before the game is over.
Time Attack - Clear as many stars as possible in exactly three minutes.
Vs. - A multi-player mode.