Kirby 64 is the first 3D Kirby game and even to this day, it still stands as one of the best titles in the series, if not the best. What did it for me was simply the fact that you were playing Kirby in 3D, that alone made me want to pick up the game. Despite all this though, thankfully Kirby didn't take the same route as Mario and chose to keep the side scrolling elements of game play but tweaking it to make it feel more 3D. Kirby 64 was truly one of a kind as it was one of the few games on the N64 that stuck to it's roots despite the hardware's capabilities and ZOMG 3D graphics with realistic polygonz!!!
A star shaped like a droplet and made out of almost 100% water... well then, how come is there ground in the level!?
Look there's a sandy beach! Where the hell is that on that huge blob of water? Seriously!? Oh wait that's just Kirby logic...
So how well did it do? Well as a Kirby game, it's excellent. It follows on from Kirby's Dreamland 3's story as Kirby meets some new pals and they go on an adventure to restore the crystal and defeat the evil Dark Matter once again. I like how the story of Kirby 64 plays out. Unlike most games, there's no voice acting or dialogue. This game manages to create a story without it and it works. Not that it surprises me though. Pretty much every scene depicts the characters body language well enough that dialogue isn't necessary and lets face it, does a Kirby game really need dialogue? I think the story feels very nostalgic, it's like when you used to read picture books as a child but it's alive, the dialogue may not be there but you can still picture exactly what it is the characters would be saying. Of course the story is a simple yet lighthearted adventure which throws a few gags, typical Kirby stuff.
Many of the cut scenes occur between levels unlike in other Kirby games where the story is only shown at the beginning and the end of the game. Besides Revenge Of Meta knight, this is the first ever Kirby game to have the storyline play out throughout the game rather than the beginning and the end of it. Unlike Revenge Of Meta knight which added dialogue boxes during game play, Kirby 64 uses colorful cut scenes between levels to illustrate it's story, what a contrast. It's obvious that they used this concept with children in mind as tonnes of dialogue may have been off putting for kids at the age of 3.
Give Kirby a hug! Well at least that's what we presume he's saying...
Onto the game play, Kirby 64 is slightly differrent from previous titles, It shows a great balance of challenge too so that even the hardened of platforming fans will find some entertainment whilst keeping it simple for players who are less experienced. As with every single Kirby game, Kirby 64's level design is very well thought out. There are many obstacles for Kirby to avoid and the game is very creative with it's death traps. Trust me, there will be at least one obstacle that will catch you out so you have to be careful. On another note, Kirby can no longer jump infinitely so you may often need to time Kirby's jumps to avoid obstacles and jump over huge gaps. This limitation is a welcome addition and the level design keeps things balanced so there are nor many huge pitfalls as there are on the other games and if there are any, there is always a way to traverse them. Certain characters may appear to assist you such as Waddle Dee and King Dedede (who just happens to be a good guy now). By utilizing their own talents, they can help Kirby traverse certain areas. King Dedede is good at smashing things whilst Waddle Dee usually brings a form of transport to assist Kirby at certain points in the game.
Of course i wouldn't forget the most important element of the Kirby games, copy abilities are back in this game but this time you can have not only 1 but 2 copy abilities to use in combination. Formerly in Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kirby would use his pals to use completely new abilities, Kirby 64 scraps this and simply lets you combine 2 copy abilities together to make a whole new ability. There are some really cool copy abilities you can use... and some really naff ones but i'll let you find them out for yourself. There are also areas that require certain combinations of abilities to access, these areas are where crystal shards are kept which are essential if you want to see the true ending of the game. This is where i come to my gripes with the game.
I want one of those fridges, does the automatic food dispenser come with it? I sure as hell hope so!
Like in Kirby's Dream Land 3, Collectables are essential to complete the game. This means that finishing the game without getting 100% is not optional, it is compulsory. If you miss any of the crystal shards, you will have to return to previous levels to get the ones you missed. This is a double edged sword, on one hand, forcing players to backtrack is good because it allows them to experience the levels all over again which is always a good thing since the levels are very memorable and never get old (and thankfully the collectables aren't as hard to obtain than they were in Kirby's Dream Land 3) on the other hand, the fact that it is compulsory means that is very little optional content to do when you do beat the game besides collecting enemy info cards which can be obtained at the end of any level.
I had enough collecting crystals after playing Final Fantasy, i want to move on!
Another Issue is that unlike Kirby Super Star, the game play can feel very slow and some abilities can deal way too much damage particularly to mid bosses which are essentially pointless in this game as they just stand there waiting to get hit. These aren't major issues though, just a few things to bear in mind.
On a good note there are also some Minigames for 1 to 4 players which can be quite addictive if you have friends (though i only have 1 controller for the N64 so i'm stuck with the ai. There is 100 yard hop, bumper crop bump and the best Kirby minigame since the recent Kirby fighters, checker board chase, a game which is unlike any other (seriously, if you have 2-4 controllers and friends, you should pick up this game for that mini game alone).
You know shit has just got real when you play a game of checkerboard chase
The art design is as great as ever, very colorful and bright, as i mentioned before with the storyline, the art design reminds me of children's picture books, particularly the ones which popped out at you but then again, this is a Kirby game, great art design is a standard for all Kirby titles and this game does an excellent job at keeping up that feat and is probably one of the best looking games in the series.
As a kid i used to call this Santa's secret missile base, he gave us toys to cover up his true identity.
One thing i liked about Kirby 64 which no other game in the series has done is the camera scrolling, i love how the camera moves in a circular motion (either that or the levels themselves are scrolling and the camera is actually just static, i could believe that) instead of merely panning left, right up and down all the time like in previous Kirby games (i was disappointed that this feature didn't return in Kirby's adventure Wii).
Notice the circular path around Whispy? Yep Kirby 64 either has a rotating camera or rotating levels, i can't decide which is which though in any case, I'm getting dizzy.
The music is without a doubt the best in the series, pretty much every song in the game is memorable, upbeat and catchy. though sometimes there is the occasional calming track which is always good, heck there are even some dark, creepy songs in there. My personal favorite is the music that plays on rock star... so catchy, lighthearted and memorable and of course the final boss theme is up there too, just beats Kirby's Adventure Wii's final boss theme as the best final boss theme in the series.
Put simply when you put the art design, the story and the soundtrack together, Kirby 64 feels like a walk through childhood as it encompasses us with everything we think of as a kid, screw logic, lets just have clouds with faces and giant plugs with feet because why the hell not. A lot of imagination went into the game's world and as such it is definitely my favorite installment in the series for this reason. There are a lot of new enemies to watch out for and each one has a card you can collect after each level if you can reach it that is.
Overall, Kirby 64 is a great platformer especially for those who often struggle with the genre or are looking for something different, this is pretty much the sugar free sweeteners of the platforming genre so be sure to pick it up if you fit that demographic, otherwise i needn't say more, you probably already have it already and if you don't have it you need to get it as soon as possible. Get it on VC if you're over here in Europe or get it in the Dream Collection in the US or you could get the cart, whatever it is, you need to try this game. Most of you probably already have it anyways because it's obvious that is is a great game, plus it's Kirby, who doesn't like Kirby? I personally consider this game to be the best game on the N64, yes even better than Zelda, SM64 and even F-zero X because this game chose to stick to it's roots and still remains a fun game to replay every now and again.
On another note, I'm scrapping my old rating system because it was confusing and stupid
Here's the new rating system:
Masterpiece (Same as masterful but for overall score, will be based on opinion) of course it won't be perfect in every way but it will be close to perfect, no game is perfect.
Masterful - Perfect in every way (Formerly 9.5+) (definitely pick up the game if you are a fan of the genre)
Exceptional - Goes way beyond expectations (Formerly between 9.1 and 9.4) (definitely pick up the game if you are a fan of the genre)
Excellent - Does what it needs to and provides a first class experience (9.0) (definitely pick up the game if you are a fan of the genre)
Great - Does what it needs to, provides a high class experience (8.5-8.9) (recommended to all fans of the genre)
Good - Does what it needs to and provides a very enjoyable experience (was 8.0 - 8.5) (recommended to all fans of the genre)
Satisfactory - Does what it needs to, provides an experience which is just enough to satisfy the player (Formerly between 7.5 - 7.9) (Reccommended to read the review if unsure)
Decent - Does what it needs to, experience can very depending on the players tastes (Formerly 7.0-7.4) (Recommended to read the review if you plan on picking up the game to see if it's for you)
So-So - Not for everyone, has some issues, may be worth a try if patient enough to cope with it's flaws (Formerly 6.5 - 6.9) (Reccommened to read the review if you're interested in the title)
Flawed - Alot of flaws, difficult to recommend, some may be able to pass them by but will require a lot of patience (Formerly 5.0 - 6.4) (Reccommened to read the review if you're interested in the title)
Awful - (Formerly 4.9 and below) (If you see this, don't pick the game up for this catagory)
Kill It With Fire - (Same as Awful but for overall score, based on opinion which in this case is usually right if you see the game, you know what to do, don't buy this and if you do, get some gasoline and a match)
Too Long (Legend Of Dragoon lol)
Very Long (Formerly 9.5 - 9.9)
Long (Formerly 9.0 - 9.4)
Quite Long (Formerly 8.0 - 8.9)
Decent Length (Formerly 7.5 - 7.9)
Quite Short (Formerly 6.5 - 7.4)
Very Short (Formerly 6.0 - 6.4)
Too short (Formerly 5.9 or below)
Lifespan: Quite Short
Worth Replaying? Yes