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Kirby 64 was the first attempt to bring Kirby to life with 3D graphics, but the gameplay is still 2D. You move from left to right, you jump and fly, and the camera tilts all kinds of ways to show off depth.
This seems like it would be a good idea, but so much of the world around Kirby extends well into the distance or into the foreground, and sometimes things you need are visible in the distance but can't be reached because you're not on the correct 2D plane. Considering Kirby can fly, or heck, even walk, why can't he just get over there? It gets more ridiculous when something like a pillar is blocking Kirby's path, and realistically, he should be able to simply walk around it. The 3D depth just raises all sorts of logic questions.
Kirby is most known for being able to eat enemies and gain their powers/characteristics. Here, this takes the form of his actual body mutating. Kirby can change into a lightbulb, have a Swiss army knife's worth of things stick out of him, have the top of his head become a volcano, and more. There's 7 individual powers, but Kirby can combine two powers together to get 28 additional "combo" powers, which result in the stranger ones, like Ice + Electricity, which turns him into a refrigerator that shoots out food.
Each power is super limited in what it can do. Kirby gets one attack, or if he's lucky, two, from a power. The primary use for powers and power combos is to solve puzzles.
The puzzles come in two forms. The most common form is stupidly simple, and doesn't deserve to be even called a "puzzle". Essentially, you'll encounter a barrier of some sort in many of the levels. The barrier is often colored the same as one or two powers. You need that one power, or specific two-power combo, to destroy the barrier. Congrats.
On the polar end, the other puzzles are very obtuse. Use lightbulb power (Electricity + Bomb) to light up dark drawings so you can see them, then go into the next room and step on the appropriate switches. Or, look at a painting, then try to carve the blocks in the next room to resemble the painting's basic shape.
It wouldn't be until 2011's Kirby's Return to Dreamland that they'd do Kirby with 3D graphics and 2D gameplay again, and get it right. But chalk Kirby 64 up to an odd experiment.
I'm sorry, but "Why can't I go into the background?" is an incredibly petty complaint. You never play a Mario game and wonder why you can't climb those hills with the eyes, do you? Just because it's a 3D environment and you can see a path in the background, that does not automatically mean you should be able to go there. It's only to make the environments look more expansive, and it does that job beautifully. It's part of the charm.
The powers may be limited, but this is par for the course in an era when Kirby had, at most, one or two attacks that he could use with each one. Especially with the sheer number of powers that there are in this game. Trying to put a complex moveset on all, or even most of them, would take up a massive amount of system memory. It just isn't feasible. This is the main reason I think a new Kirby game would benefit greatly from bringing back this mechanic.
No offense, but I get the impression you're trying to look at this game from a modern perspective, which is patently unfair. It may be an odd experiment, but in my opinion, it was a highly successful one.
I played that game after I'd played the hell out of Kirby Super Star, and Kirby 64 seriously felt like it was missing something. It felt like a severely lacking game, and that's not something you want from a sequel to something fantastic.
\"Some puzzles are super obtuse so they suck\" (paraphrasing)
Have you played older Kirby games? Like, at all?
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