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Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (Hoshi no Kirby 64 in Japanese), released in 2000, is the first game in the Kirby series to go in a 3D-ish environment, and the only Kirby game for the Nintendo 64.
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One day, the fairy planet of Ripple Star is overshadowed by a great darkness—specifically, a mass of Dark Matter. To prevent Ripple Star's Crystal from falling into the wrong hands, the queen launches it into outer space with one of her fairies, Ribbon. But Dark Matter sends three small orbs of itself in space to chase and attack the crystal, causing it to shatter into several pieces.

...Meanwhile, Kirby is watching a meteor shower when Ribbon lands on him holding what's left of the Crystal. A second shard falls on Kirby shortly thereafter; when he offers it to Ribbon, the Crystals recombine. These shooting stars are the other Crystal Shards, which must be collected in order to save Ripple Star. Kirby is more than happy to help, so he sets off with Ribbon on a quest across several planets, meeting up with his friends along the way.

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Directed by Shinichi Shimomura, most of the action is played on a 2D plane, with enemies occasionally flying at Kirby from the "background" to slow him down. One of the most noteworthy gameplay mechanics is combining Kirby's Copy Abilities to create new ones (for example, the combination of Burning + Stone turns Kirby into a living, aim-able volcano). Kirby's three allies of King Dedede, a Waddle Dee, and a human painter named Adeleine will also occasionally assist him in small scripted sequences within some of the stages.

This game is the third and final part of Shimomura's "Dark Matter Trilogy", the previous entries being Kirby's Dream Land 2 and Kirby's Dream Land 3, and thus inherits their more slow-paced, simplistic gameplay and more whimsical, dream-like art direction and music. Like previous Shimomura-directed titles, it was relatively overlooked for not being like the Masahiro Sakurai-directed games (especially Kirby Super Star), and like Dream Land 3 suffered from being released late in its system's lifespan (just a year before the release of the Nintendo GameCube). However, like the rest of the Dark Matter Trilogy, it's come to be regarded as a hidden gem within the Kirby catalog in the decades since. Along with its predecessors, it was included as part of Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition, for Kirby's 20th anniversary, and was later added to the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack in May 2022.

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This game has examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Ribbon + Crystal is the result of recombining all the Crystal Shards in order to defeat 02.
  • 100% Completion: The only way to fight 02 is to get all of the Crystal Shards in each stage.
  • 2½D: Most of the stages are on a 2D plane, with hazards and abilities that can attack you from the sides and background.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: No less than three bosses use this at least for one part of their battle. Acro chases Kirby upwards in a water tunnel in his second phase, Magman chases him through a volcano in between his two phases in order to transition between battlefields, and HR-E pursues him across a metallic road.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom:
    • A section in Neo Star's 4th stage has a wave of lava chasing after Kirby. It later turns into Rise to the Challenge.
    • There's a part of the Shiver Star factory stage with some electric walls pushed by robots.
  • After the End: Shiver Star looks suspiciously like Earth after a Glacial Apocalypse and its ensuing Endless Winter. The Japanese website claims that all the inhabitants packed up and abandoned the planet. Only their machines are left.
  • Alliterative Name: The multi-player games follow an A-B-A pattern: "Checkerboard Chase", "100-Yard Hop", and "Bumper Crop Bump".
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The Holy Mother of all aversions. At least in terms of the box art, anyway. Not so much the US commercial....
  • Antlion Monster: Snipper, an enemy with comically oversized antlion pincers that hides at the bottom of sandy pits.
  • Arrows on Fire: Burning + Needle has Kirby turn himself into a bow to fire flaming arrows.
  • Aside Glance: Kirby does one briefly as Dedede gets possessed.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level:
    • At three different points, Kirby meets up with Waddle Dee and they ride down a hill on a vehicle. These segments progress automatically, with the only input being the ability to jump over obstacles.
    • The boss of Aqua Star is Acro, the orca whale. The screen follows him while he moves all over the place spitting things at you. After you temporarily take him out, you must Rise to the Challenge while he returns to spit things at you from below. note 
    • HR-H, the boss of Shiver Star, transforms into a tank called HR-E to chase you over a crumbling bridge.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • There are quite a few, but special mention goes to Stone + Bomb, which lets you throw a bundle of dynamite that pretty much kills anything. It also damages you unless you duck, which gives you a hard hat that blocks the damage. It's also on a timed fuse unless it makes contact with an enemy. The game forces you to use this to get one of the shards, with a not-insignificant distance between where you get it and where it's used.
    • Stone + Cutter is one of the game's best combos, which turns Kirby into one of the six animal friends from Kirby's Dream Land 2 or Kirby's Dream Land 3… But it only really shines if you reroll until you get Pitch the bird. Kine the fish can't move an inch, while the others have abysmal speed and no advantage compared to Pitch's mobility (and are only barely more mobile than Stone or Stone+Stone, for that matter, and only because they're able to jump). The only other animal friend you'll use besides Pitch is Rick the hamster, and he's only used for getting one shard.
  • Back from the Dead: Despite not being explicitly stated as such, it seems like 02 is Zero reborn. However, what little official material there is of them seems to imply that they're actually separate beings.
  • Barrier Change Boss: Miracle Matter takes on multiple forms based on each of the Copy Abilities. It can only be hurt when in one of its forms, and only by the specific Copy Ability or the stars it drops during said form.
  • Battle Boomerang: Both regular Cutter and Cutter + Cutter let Kirby throw boomerangs to attack.
  • Beat the Curse Out of Him: When Waddle Dee, Adeleine, and Dedede are possessed by Dark Matter, Kirby has to beat the crap out of them to free them.
  • Bespectacled Cutie: The Fairy Queen, an adorable teenage-looking girl with Blush Stickers and large glasses, and the sweet and clumsy nature to match.
  • BFS: Burning + Cutter = Giant Flaming Sword you can throw.
  • Big Bad: 02 is the source of the Dark Matter entities and the one behind the game's plot.
  • Big, Bulky Bomb: Stone + Bomb = roll of dynamite that kills everything on screen and hurts you if you don't use the helmet. It takes a while to detonate normally, but triggers instantly if it hits an enemy.
  • Big Fancy Castle: King Dedede lives in one, and it takes up a huge amount of stage 1-3.
  • The Big Guy: King Dedede shows up occasionally to assist Kirby with his strength and hammer. This typically involves you taking control of Dedede for a single room, though a couple times he'll just open up a blocked path.
  • Blackout Basement: A few small rooms will contain a code you need to enter in the next room. These rooms are dark and the answer will only be revealed with the lightbulb-based Spark + Bomb power.
  • Bleak Level:
    • Ripple Star's second stage is a complete 180º turn from the cute and colorful first. Everything is covered by dark smog, the fairies are replaced with broom-riding witches who fly in the background and the music now mostly consists of haunting, maddening noises that seemingly never end.
    • Shiver Star's infamous fourth stage; the mysterious toy factory that looks more like a sinister laboratory. And right after the stage where Kirby happily adventures through a shopping mall.
  • Blow You Away: After Kirby puffs up, he can exhale to attack enemies with a puff of smoke. Some of his ice powers also work this way.
  • Bookends: Ripple Star's first stage is designed similarly to Pop Star's first stage and has the same music.
  • Boss-Only Level: The last stage of each Star contains nothing but a Boss Battle. Dark Star is just a Boss Corridor before facing 02.
  • Boss Rush: Boss Battles, available as a bonus mode. Also comes with a twist: even if you manage to swallow things that could give you powers, you won't get any, so you're forced to fight as normal Kirby until the final boss. Even when you can transform against Miracle Matter, the fridge power (Ice + Spark) won't generate food.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Dark Matter is capable of possessing people and turning them evil.
  • But Thou Must!: Your pause screen has two choices, "Continue" or "Try again"; the latter takes you to the map and lets you try on a different stage. During the battle with the True Final Boss, they become "Continue" and "Tough it out!". They both do the exact same thing.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kirby endures a lot of physical abuse in many of the cutscenes.
  • The Cameo: Stone + Cutter turns Kirby into stone statues based on his animal friends from Dream Land 2 and Dream Land 3.
  • Call-Back: The background for Miracle Matter's boss fight has the same basic pattern as the Hyper Zone.
  • Collision Damage: Coming into contact with an enemy causes you to take damage, but usually the enemy is defeated as well by the collision.
  • Color-Coded Elements: Each ability has its own color to represent it, and obstacles that can be broken by that ability are in that color. If they require two abilities, the two colors will be shown as a pattern.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Kirby's various Stone + Cutter forms are his animal friends from Kirby's Dream Land 2 and Kirby's Dream Land 3.
    • Your fight with King Dedede early on screams the latter of those two games.
    • 02 has a large bandage on the top of its head, which can be assumed to be where its eyeball popped out in Dream Land 3...
  • Cowardly Mooks: The Emp enemies will comically run away at the first sign of Kirby.
  • Crapsaccharine World: What Ripple Star is turned into when Dark Matter takes it over. It is a giant Heart Symbol-shaped planet, that is covered in spots of pitch black and is full of enemies trying to kill you.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Waddle Dee, Adeleine, and Dedede become allies after they are freed of the Dark Matter orbs that possessed them.
  • Demonic Possession: Dark Matter end up possessing Waddle Dee, Adeleine, and King Dedede, leading to boss fights against each. It also possessed the Queen of Ripple Star sometime after the intro, though it's exorcised during the true finale.
  • Determinator: Ribbon doesn't let her planet's invasion slow her down.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Stone + Burning turns Kirby into a boulder-spewing volcano.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Bomb + Needle turns Kirby into the series' standard Invincible Minor Minion, the Gordo, for a few seconds. He'll launch his spikes after a while.
  • Dual Boss: Pix is made up of three different eight-sided crystals: one red, one blue, and one green. Each crystal has its own health, and all three must be destroyed to win.
  • Easter Egg: If you inhale an enemy and push R to hold them above your head — without digesting them — many of them have unique effects. Bronto Burts, for example, will carry you into the air, Bumbers will let you slowly drift down after jumping, Pterans let you glide, Glunks will shoot a steady stream of pellets into the air that will take out airborne enemies, Fishbones shoot their heads (forming a steady stream of horizontal projectiles), and Drops and Sandmen will just dissolve. There are also several enemies who do something special if lifted over Kirby's head and then thrown; for example, Mites will be thrown in an arc that quickly descends, burrowing into the ground when they reach it, and Cairn and Chilly are also thrown at an arc, but actually break apart into pieces as they're thrown.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Outside of the occasional puzzle or obstacle, the stages are pretty easy to run through without dying. The game's difficulty is placed squarely in the boss encounters, which are the only areas where you have to watch your health.
  • Edge Gravity: When balanced on an edge, Kirby will wheel his stubby little arms, teeter back and forth, and exclaim "Woah!".
  • Edible Ammunition: Ice + Spark turns Kirby into a refrigerator that throws food at the enemy, destroying them. Any food that doesn't hit enemies (or walls) can then be eaten to regain health.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Dark Matter, a one-eyed black mass that engulfs and possesses everything it touches. Even better, there's no explanation given as to why; it just seems to be its nature to absorb positive emotions.
  • Elemental Powers: Bomb, Ice, Cutter, Burning, Needle, Stone, and Spark, and they can all be combined for varying levels of awesome.
  • Elemental Weapon: Combining Cutter with Burning or Spark results respectively in a flame sword and a Darth Maul-like double-bladed lightsaber. On top of looking pretty damn cool, they are also very effective.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Fail to get 100% Completion, and the ending cinematic reveals that the queen of Ripple Star is still possessed.
  • Enemy Mine: King Dedede hates Dark Matter more than he hates Kirby, so he reluctantly ends up joining the party after being defeated.
  • Epic Flail: Sort of. Stone + Spark gives Kirby a boulder tetherball which he holds via electricity.
  • Eternal Engine: The fourth stage of Shiver Star takes place in a sinister factory. The still-running machinery makes up much of the obstacles.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Several of the powers give Kirby a spinning animation. For instance, Ice + Cutter turns Kirby into an ice-skater who attacks via rapid spinning leaps.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Subverted. Fail to get 100% Completion, and in the ending cinematic, the queen has her eyes shut during the entire scene. She only opens them at the very end, revealing she's still possessed.
  • Eye Scream: Like its previous incarnation, 02 can be attacked through the eye, though it's not strictly required to win this time.
  • Faerie Court: The unnamed "Fairy Queen" as the ruler of the fairies in Ripple Star. She later gets possessed by the main villain and you have to collect all Plot Coupons to free her.
  • Fairy Companion: Ribbon is always with Kirby, but actually only shows herself to pick up crystal shards.
  • Fall-in Angel: Kirby's adventure begins when Ribbon falls from the sky.
  • Final Boss: Miracle Matter, a 20-sided prism with an eye on each side. Its strategy is to use the Copy Abilities Kirby uses in different ways, and can only be hurt when it's attacking by hitting it with its own projectiles or moves that use (one of) the Abilities that it's currently using.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: Miracle Matter's battle zone doesn't look like anything seen in the game before. For that matter, neither does the arena of the true final boss, 02.
  • Final-Exam Boss: Miracle Matter, who has a different form for every base ability in the game, and the only way to harm him is to damage him with the same ability he's using.
  • Flaming Sword: Burning + Cutter creates a fire sword for Kirby. He can either swing it normally or throw it to attack.
  • Flunky Boss: Adeleine's boss battle mostly consists of fighting her art come to life. She eventually gets tired of her creations getting destroyed and engages Kirby herself, but ends up being pitifully weak.
  • Forest of Perpetual Autumn: Stage 1-2 is set in an autumn stage with a lot of red leaves falling down.
  • Foreshadowing: In the bad ending credits, everything is all sketched out, including a very rough sketch of the True Final Boss. It's entirely possible to put two and two together if you collected its card beforehand.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: There used to be a nasty bug in the Nintendo Switch Online version of the game where getting hit by certain attacks while underwater resulted in Kirby being stuck in his hurt animation and softlocking the controls. He was completely invincible during this animation lock, so the only way to fix this was to pass through a room transition somehow, exit the stage, or use a save state. It got quickly addressed and fixed in the 2.3.1 Update.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Kanys are crab mooks the size of Kirby. A giant one shows up as the mid-boss of Aqua Star's second stage.
  • Giant Mook: All of the regular mid-bosses (minus the "Special" mid-bosses of Waddle Dee, Adeleine, and King Dedede) are large versions of regular enemies.
  • Girl of the Week: Ribbon, despite being something of a love interest, only appeared in this game before receiving cameos in the Kirby 20th Anniversary art book and Kirby: Planet Robobot before returning as a duo with Adeleine in Kirby Star Allies.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • One of Kirby's main objectives is to collect all 74 of the titular Crystal Shards scattered across the galaxy to restore Ripple Star. Alongside the first two found in the opening cutscene, there are six held by the bosses and 66 hidden in the levels. Finding them all is necessary to unlock the True Final Boss and achieve 100% Completion.
    • There are also 81 Enemy Info Cards that contain pictures and names for all of the enemies in the game. They can be randomly obtained during the Goal Game, but they're not required for 100% completion.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The Cutter ability involves Kirby throwing his face at enemies.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Aqua Star's third stage has a Crystal Shard placed far above Kirby's maximum flight cap. In order to get it, you need to realize that Rick's form from the Stone + Cutter power can Wall Jump. This is a Continuity Nod to Kirby's Dream Land 3, but if you've never played that, your only hint is the green-and-brown breakable terrain that stands in your way — and considering Stone + Cutter has six different forms that show up at random, solving the puzzle essentially amounts to trial and error.
    • In Neo Star 4-4, one room has a large rock in the center, with molten lava creating cracks in it. It obviously conceals a Crystal Shard, and the red and black pattern suggests that the rock is meant to be destroyed with Burning + Bomb. In reality, the only ability that can break it is Ice, though most Ice combos will do the trick (Ice+Ice, Ice+Spark, and Ice+Cutter won't work).
  • Harder Than Hard: The minigames feature Easy, Medium, Hard, and Intense as difficulty settings.
  • Helpful Mook:
    • Zebon returns from Kirby's Dream Land 3 with a very similar role of shooting Kirby into various directions.
    • A few enemies can grant a helpful effect if Kirby holds them above his head after inhaling them. A Pteran, for example, will make Kirby soar through the air if he jumps, while a Tick will continuously attack upwards.
  • Homing Projectile: Bomb + Bomb allows Kirby to shoot homing missiles from his mouth. They aren't the most accurate even with the tracking don't detect bosses.
  • Human Snowball: The Ice + Ice power turns Kirby into a giant snowball that rolls along, picking up enemies along the way.
  • Idiosyncratic Menu Labels: The pause screen normally has options for "Continue" (continue playing) and "Try Again" (exit stage). In the Boss Battles mode, "Try Again" is changed to "Accept Defeat". During the final battle with 02 (outside of the aforementioned Boss Battles mode), the "Try Again" option is disabled and instead reads "Tough It Out!"
  • I Know Madden Kombat:
    • Ice + Stone turns Kirby into a curling rock.
    • Cutter + Ice has Kirby donning a pair of ice skates. He attacks with them by doing airborne twirls.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Needle + Needle turns Kirby into a giant Swiss Army Knife full of diverse painful objects.
  • Interface Spoiler: The enemy info cards you can win at the end of each stage are entirely randomized, and the pool is static so it doesn't take game progress into account. You're very likely to see cards of enemies or even bosses you haven't encountered yet, and that includes the possibility of getting the card for the True Final Boss at any time.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Invincible Candy, now with a unique theme tune.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: If you lose the Boss Battles mode, you get a scene of Kirby looking sad as the Game Over jingle plays, his friends looking on with what can only be described as disdain on their faces, and the "uplifting" message, "It's hopeless..."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dedede still has some animosity towards Kirby over their past encounters, but nonetheless helps against Dark Matter. In the cutscene before traveling to Ripple Star, we see that he genuinely does want to help after he sees Ripple Star is covered in darkness.
  • Joke Weapon:
    • Ice + Burning. Some combinations might be underpowered or unimpressive, but this one's nothing short of useless. Serves you right for attempting to mix ice and fire.
    • Stone + Cutter can turn Kirby into a statue of Kine the fish, who literally can't do anything. He doesn't even move when underwater.
  • Laser Blade: Spark + Cutter gives Kirby a double-bladed lightsaber.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The generally smooth "Studying the Factory" music ends with creepy piano chords, while the bad ending's otherwise cheery "We did it!" music gets extremely creepy at the end as the adorable queen abruptly gains an evil look and glances at the screen.
  • Later Installment Weirdness:
    • This game notably gives the formula of Shimomura-directed titles a complete overhaul. The animal friends are dropped in favor of the ability to combine Copy Abilities, the visual presentation switches from a 2D format to a 2.5D one, the setting covers multiple planets rather than being limited to Popstar, and the game's cast is much more diverse and sees more elaborate characterizations due to the game putting a greater focus on storytelling.
    • The game differentiates itself from virtually every other Kirby platformer with the absence of a signature mechanic: Doors. Instead, all rooms transition into another by going offscreen at certain points, lending the game a more straightforward feel than other Kirby titles.
    • A minor example, but Kirby never does his signature Happy Dance at any point in the game.
    • Kirby can only fly for a short period of time, compared to other games where he can fly infinitely.
    • Mid-bosses, unlike the past few games, are just giant versions of enemies that generally spawn other mini variants (borrowing a bit from Kirby's Adventure). However, these mooks are generally far easier to take on, as their size makes them a much bigger target, and they share more or less the same moves as their smaller counterparts.
  • Lethal Joke Item: Ice + Spark gives Kirby the ability to turn into a mini-fridge that spits out food. While trying to hit anything with the ability is highly impractical, you can eat said food to regain health.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The last two stages of Neo Star take place around and within a volcano. Lava, flaming boulders, and fire enemies abound, with the boss being a lava monster.
  • Level in the Clouds: The second stage of Shiver Star has Kirby being shot by a Zebon into the clouds, where he adventures through.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: This game’s version of Cutter is a cartoony, Made of Bologna example. It involves Kirby sacrificing part of his own body, including his face, to make a boomerang. It isn’t harmful in the long run, though, since he goes back to normal once the boomerang returns.
  • MacGuffin: The Crystal Shards — it's never exactly stated why the Crystal is so important, though Ribbon uses it to combat the True Final Boss at the end.
  • Meat-O-Vision: While traversing through Rock Star's desert, an exhausted Kirby starts seeing his companions as food, his vision fading back to normal with Black Dot Pupils before he collapses. With him quickly recovering during the picnic the group have afterward, it's a good thing Adeleine can paint objects to life!
  • The Medic: Adeleine appears once per star to paint Kirby a healing item/powerup or help him solve a Crystal Shard puzzle.
  • Mickey Mousing: The music played during cutscenes occasionally employs this.
  • Minecart Madness: In the second stage of Neo Star, Kirby meets up with Waddle Dee and they ride a minecart through the opening section of the stage. While Kirby is able to plow through enemies during the ride, there are still Bottomless Pits and inconviently-placed rocks that you need to jump over, and there's a side path leading to a Crystal Shard to look out for.
  • Mini-Game: The game features three multiplayer mini-games entirely unrelated to anything, accessible mostly from the "options" menu.
  • Monster Compendium: In the form of enemy cards Kirby can earn only in the jump game after stages. They just show the enemies' names, their animated models, and which power (if any) they give Kirby, and there are eighty-one cards in all. Oh yeah, and the card that Kirby gets is random every time, meaning it's possible to get duplicates. Good luck trying to get them all (though there's a bit of humor to be found in this, as the fact that the card you get is randomized means that it's possible for you to get 02 as your first card).
  • Mood Whiplash: Kirby goes from fighting cute little animals with your adorable companions (stopping to have picnics along the way) to fighting a giant bleeding eyeball to stop Dark Matter from taking over the rest of the universe as it did Ripple Star. Sleep tight!
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Cutter + Needle turns Kirby's arms into a giant set of jaws. Additionally, King Dedede's battle is directly carried over from Kirby's Dream Land 3, meaning that his toothy belly-mouth makes a reappearance.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: The last true stage of the game, 6-3, is composed mostly of rooms full of enemy swarms, punctuated by short hallways.
  • Ninja: Cutter + Bomb gives Kirby invisible, exploding shurikens that hit almost instantly.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": Averted with Needle + Burning, which takes the form of flaming arrows with a significant arc in their flight path.
  • Notice This: You'll occasionally come across patches of the environment that are oddly colored. These either contain Crystal Shards or unlock paths to them, with the color of the patch being a hint as to which Copy Ability combo will let you through.
  • One-Hit Kill: Getting crushed between two surfaces kills Kirby instantly.
  • Palmtree Panic: The first and third stages of Aqua Star have Kirby traveling through a cluster of small tropical islands. The second stage is more of a Roaring Rapids example.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Subverted regarding the bad ending cutscene. While you can miss collecting it in the theater if you got all the Crystal Shards before fighting Miracle Matter, it'll be added to the theater anyway after beating the True Final Boss.
    • You're allowed to fight the Waddle Doo, the possessed Adeleine, and the possessed King Dedede only once. After you beat them, these battles do not reappear when revisiting their stages. Even the Boss Rush mode doesn't feature them. The only way to fight them again is to start a new file.
  • The Phoenix: Burning + Burning upgrades Kirby's standard attack into a wide-ranged winged inferno.
  • Pixellation: A pixelated mess is one of the things Adeleine sends after you when she's possessed.
  • Plot Coupon: The player can only unlock the final level and the true ending by collecting all 74 Crystal Shards.
  • Power Copying: This time around, Kirby can combine any two Copy Abilities for extra firepower.
  • Prehistoria: The general theme of Neo Star is that it's a primordial planet, thus its environments consist primarily of Jungle Japes and Lethal Lava Lands. Some of the enemies there also resemble dinosaurs and cavemen.
  • Promoted to Playable: King Dedede is controllable as a Power Up Mount for a few segments of the game.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Stage 6-2 features almost exclusively a minimalist string pattern that gives the stage a frantic, claustrophobic atmosphere.
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • Rock Star's boss, Pix, takes more damage if you shoot each crystal with a bullet of the same color.
    • Miracle Matter seems invincible at first, but it can be hurt by the same power element as it's using at a given time. For example, it uses the Spark ability to fire lasers all over the area. The only way to hurt it is to use an electric based power (solo or mix, whichever works) or simply suck up the excess power and shoot it back.
  • Red Herring: In the instruction manual for this game, King Dedede's cast description says the following: "Long-time rival King Dedede finds one of the missing Crystal Shards on his castle grounds. Whatever will he do with it?" If it weren't for Dedede's willingness to work with Kirby this time around, this lore could make some people believe that Dedede is still an antagonist in Kirby's adventure that must be stopped, despite being on the side of good for a change. Dedede's refusal to give Kirby the aforementioned shard he found somewhat helps support this red herring, as does some Japanese commercials not showing his presence, instead showing Kirby's team up to Adeleine.
  • Replay Mode: While Kirby's Dream Land 3 introduced a prototype of the series' Theater mode, Kirby 64 is the game that properly introduces the configuration that would become standard for the series in the latter half of the decade. The mode, which is explicitly called "Theater", functions identically to its successors in that it's available from the get-go, but only allows the player to watch a cutscene after viewing it properly for the first time in the main game.
  • Ribcage Ridge: There's a giant skeleton of some creature in a stage on Rock Star that "hides" a Crystal Shard in its mouth.
  • Rose-Haired Sweetie: Ribbon is a pink-haired fairy girl from Ripple Star with a sweet and cheery attitude who serves as Kirby's Fairy Companion and helps with gathering the Crystal Shards used to travel between levels.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: In the bad ending, after Kirby and his friends depart, the fairy ruler turns to the camera, and her glasses shine as she glares at the screen.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Most of Rock Star, wih a few Ruins for Ruins' Sake scattered around.
  • Ship Tease: Ribbon kisses Kirby in the true ending, causing a Luminescent Blush. Nobody else in the Kirby games, or even the anime, has ever done this — or at least romantically.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Spark + Cutter looks like a double-bladed lightsaber taken out of Star Wars.
    • The true ending also looks quite a bit like the destruction of the Death Star and the awards ceremony at the end of Star Wars.
    • The file select music is very similar to that of Ocarina of Time's.
    • A cut example: The Needle + Needle ability uses a cactus among the other items in the final version, but a prerelease version showed that it used to be a black double fork which bears a striking resemblance to the Longinus Spear.
    • 02's appearance also bears a striking resemblance to Rei Lilith from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Bombs. They can be used both up close and from a distance, have fast animations that make it easy to spam, and deal a hefty amount of damage.
  • Sinister Geometry: Rock Star's boss (8-sided) and Miracle Matter (20-sided).
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Shiver Star, but only the first stage really. The remaining stages do start in somewhat snowy terrain, but otherwise go in whole different directions.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: Seen occasionally on several stages (most obviously Shiver Star's toy factory).
  • Smooch of Victory: This is how Ribbon expresses her gratitude to Kirby for saving Ripple Star in the True Ending.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": There have been many inconsistent translations and spellings of the True Final Boss's name, including Zero Two, Zero2, and 02.
  • Sphere of Destruction: Spark + Spark creates a giant orb of electrical rings that destroy any enemies they touch with a loud, satisfying shocking noise. It slows you to a crawl while active, though.
  • The Spiny:
    • Just like before, Gordo is one of the few monsters that Kirby can't inhale; it simply won't budge no matter what.
    • The Scarfies, which look cute at first, turn monstrous and eventually explode if Kirby attempts to inhale them.
    • The Spider-like Mariels damage Kirby if he digests them.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: The game opens with Dark Matter taking over Ripple Star.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: The game's named after the Nintendo 64, of course. The original Japanese release was simply called Hoshi no Kirby 64, while the English release added a subtitle.
  • Taken for Granite: Most of the Stone powers turn Kirby into stone. Stone + Cutter goes a step further and turns Kirby into a random stone statue of one of his animal buddies from Kirby's Dream Land 3.
  • Takes One to Kill One:
    • Rock Star's boss takes more damage if its parts are hit with like-colored projectiles. You have to forgo using a Copy Ability to take advantage of this, though.
    • The final boss, Miracle Matter, is a Barrier Change Boss that can only be hurt by the power he's currently using.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Stone + Bomb creates a MASSIVE hunk of dynamite that will hurt Kirby if he doesn't hide beneath the helmet.
    • Ice + Bomb turns Kirby into a walking snowman bomber (except the explosion doesn't hurt himself).
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Unlike Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Dedede was really hesitant to join Kirby's adventure.
  • This Is a Drill: Stone + Needle gives Kirby a drill. It's self-propelling and can also be used as a projectile.
  • Timed Mission: Though it's not outright stated, taking too long to defeat HR-E from Shiver Star will result in Kirby falling into a pit and dying.
  • Toy Time: Stage 5-3 takes place in a shopping mall, which does feature various toys alongside other commercial products.
  • Tree Trunk Tour: The latter half of Pop Star's second stage is the inside of a gigantic tree.
  • True Final Boss: 02, unlocked after defeating Miracle Matter with all of the Crystal Shards.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Adeleine and Ribbon.
  • Uncommon Time: The theme that plays while fighting 02 is in 12/8.
  • Under the Sea: The latter half of Aqua Star takes place in underwater caves and canyons.
  • Underground Level: There's at least 3 of those. The third stage in Rock Star (a sandy cave), the second stage in Neo Star (a rocky mine) and the catacombs of Ripple Star.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: The True Final Boss plays rather like Star Fox. Although considering how many of these things we've been through already, it's hardly "unexpected".
  • The Unfought: Dark Matter is not fought in its base form — it either flees or attempts to flee.
  • Unique Enemy: Noo in Stage 2-2, Wall Shotzo in Stage 2-4, and Rockn in Stage 5-4.
  • Victory Cake: Each stage (excepting boss battles) ends with the characters having a nice picnic, and a little mini-game in which Kirby can earn some extra items, including a health-restoring slice of cake.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: As with many of Kirby's games. We get 02, a previous villain that was defeated, apparently coming back from death, and it bleeds whenever it is hit.
  • Villain-Possessed Bystander: The first three bosses Kirby encounters are friends that will help him along the game. All of them were too close to one of Dark Matter's pieces and got possessed to attack Kirby.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Several of the Crystal Shards require you to almost fall to your death down a Bottomless Pit (though Kirby can float back up if he has enough breath, which is the intended method for some of them).
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Conversely, Possessed Adeleine and Possessed Dedede, at the end of the second and third stages respectively, are mostly unchanged from Kirby's Dream Land 3, where they were the penultimate and final bosses (without the Heart Stars). The only major difference is that they have less health.
  • Wall Jump: Stone + Cutter has a one-in-six chance of turning you into a statue of Rick the hamster, who can can ascend walls by jumping off of them repeatedly.
  • Warm-Up Boss: Dark Matter-possessed Waddle Dee at the end of the first stage, especially if you come into the fight with a decent combo power. He only has two slow (and a third one that's just slightly quicker), telegraphed attacks that leave him stunned for an extended period of time when dodged.
  • When Trees Attack: The first boss of the game, recurring boss character Whispy Woods.
  • Wingding Eyes: Waddle Doo gets a spiral eye when dizzy, and the Fairy Queen gets X eyes when Dark Matter is purged out of her body.
  • World Shapes: Pop Star is a five-pointed star, Rock Star is shattered into several pieces, Aqua Star is a drop of water with a wave breaker-shaped planet suspended in it, and Ripple Star is Heart Symbol-shaped.
  • Wreathed in Flames: Fire has Kirby dash forward while ablaze, akin to the Burning ability from Kirby's Adventure.

 
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Kirby 64: Bad Ending

If you beat the boss of Ripple Star without collecting every crystal shard, you'll be treated to an ending that seems happy, until...

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