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SummaryI expected more from a Kirby game
The GoodJust like Kirby's Adventure on the NES, I really love the design. Everything looks very colorful, happy and innocent, not counting the occasional "scary" level. This aesthetic is obviously meant to appeal to the children, but I already said before that adults like myself should look past the cute aesthetic and instead see a great gameplay that fits very well with all that cute-stuff. Kirby 64 is also one of the many games from the 90's that chose to remain 2D and see how good they could make the game look now that they didn't have to make a 3D world, needless to say it looks great and especially the cut-scenes look awesome.
In this installment you have the ability to not only absorb your enemies, but also combine them. By spitting an enemy back out in order to hit another enemy to turn them into a star which you can then eat in order to get a new ability. This way you can mix fire and bombs to create a Kirby that creates fireworks when you press the B-button for example. You can also mix enemies by pressing the right-shoulder-button and throw the star Kirby conjures at an enemy, so you can carry an ability around like normal until you find something to mix it with as well.
The boss-fights are rather spectacular and quite challenging as well. All of them consisted of two phases and the key to victory is to discover how to dodge the attacks and when to strike. Bosses are also often immune to standard attacks from Kirby and require him to spit items they created themselves back at them. The boss-fights were the highlights in this game and I was always looking forward to the next one when playing through the levels.
There are a lot of secrets to discover, so much even, that to this day I still haven't found them all. This was one of the games I played as a kid and it was one of my favorites, so I played it a lot. As I grew up I continued to replay it on a regular basis and now, ten years later, I still haven't collected all the blasted shards and gotten that 100% completion. For a lot of shards you need the right ability to get it and that sometimes means carrying the same ability through several levels just to use it when finally finding one of these shards that is locked away.
There is a handful of multi-player games you can play and each and every single of them is fast-paced and chaotic as hell. There is just nothing wrong with these games, they are perfect in every bloody way. You got a game where you need to catch fruit falling from a tree and with the click of a button you switch position with the character standing next to you, a jumping race where you need to choose between jumping normally and double-jumping and a standard fight to the death with hammers.
I like it how Kirby is constantly helped by his friends, it made the adventure feel more like a group effort rather then a single person doing everything on his own. You got this little artist that draws items for you (like food), you got a small fellow that often brings you vehicles or helps Kirby escape from certain rooms and you got King Dedede who let's Kirby ride his back in order to destroy walls and enemies more efficiently. These sections are scripted, but the characters still make you feel like they were part of the adventure.
The BadThis game is incredibly easy, aside from shard-hunting and the boss-fights. All you really need to do is finding the right ability and you can keep on going for as long as you want with very little touching you. If you take double-electricity for example you will conjure a big shield around Kirby that kills every enemy that touches it instantly and can only be penetrated by certain projectiles, powers like these just make the game way too easy because standard enemies and even entire groups of them will not be able to touch you.
The levels aren't really original and there are very few surprises. you go to; lava-world, water-world, jungle-world and machine-world (that one was perhaps the best of them) and there are no stages like the Butter Tower from Kirby's Adventure to completely blow your mind. Each world only has five levels, one of which is the boss, so you get a total of thirty levels which makes the game easy to complete within a single afternoon. While everything does look spectacular, you have to admit that it's a massive downgrade.
The shards don't really serve a purpose at all, I was told once that collecting them all would unlock the actual final boss, but that means you have to find all of them and that is a big chore that requires motivation to keep going, but the game doesn't give you that motivation at all. There are no rewards for finding individual shards or even a number of them (like per five or ten), so you either have to find them all or you can skip each and every single one of them without missing anything important.
The Bottom LineThe One-line Summary might have sounded a bit harsh, but I really am a bit disappointed. I don't mind flaws in my games because nothing is ever perfect, but these are some pretty big problems for a Kirby game. There is a lack of creativity in the levels, it's pretty short, there is no challenge and collecting the shards is completely pointless, but on the bright side there is also a lot to like about this game. Aside from the fact that like Castlevania, Kirby remained 2D in order to produce better graphics instead of a bigger game, you also got a selection of funny characters, a nice aesthetic and a sweet multi-player.
If you want a Kirby game, then this one is a recommendation and if you are a Nintendo 64 fan then this game should already be in your collection. If you are looking for a good 2D platformer, then this is a nice back-up plan because there are much better platformers on the NES and SNES.