Kirby 64 - The Crystal Shards
Kirby always seemed to get the shaft--his games showing up well after a system is already established and in the wake of the next big thing (with the exception of the Game Boy games). Maybe this will change things, as the N64 still has plenty of life left in it, as proven by Nintendo's strong first-party games at Space World.
Kirby's Dreamland 64 is a 3D side-scrolling platform game on a fixed plane like Klonoa (PS) or Pandemonium (PS). The camera often swings around the action, keeping Kirby in view at all times, to reveal an enemy or curved trail. In some of the castle levels, you stay more or less stationary in the center of the screen as the scenery moves around you as you climb its spiral. Graphically speaking, Kirby has never looked better. Forget Kirby's Air Ride--he deserves, and has now received, better. As in previous games, he inhales enemies and gains their abilities. For example, he can become a bomb, do a super-speed dash, have ice breath, turn into a refrigerator, become a spikey ball and more. But unlike those previous titles, he can now combine two abilities, creating even more new attacks. You're also able to pick up enemies and use them as weapons or pick up their weapons, such as swords, to swing back at them.
The story goes like this: A mysterious enemy has kidnapped an innocent fairy, and Kirby must come to her rescue. To save her, he has to collect crystals that have been scattered throughout the game's levels. There are plenty of bosses to get in the way of your goal, too. One in particular is a boy who draws enemies for Kirby to fight. They jump off of his canvas and attack our poor lil' pink puff-ball hero. (They are flat, crayon-ish drawings in 2D like the characters in PaRappa or Super Mario RPG 2).
At various points in the game and before and after bosses, there's a cutscene using the game's engine. Levels in the game include: Desert, Ocean, Seaside, Castle, Forest, Mountain Pass and Greek Ruins. Music is comprised of upbeat, very saccharin-laced music-box-ish tunes that fit right in with what the Kirby series has become. Even at only 50 percent complete, Kirby 64 looks like a winner.