We feel a bit sorry for Kirby. While the likes of Mario and Link are household names, and other Nintendo series such as StarFox and Metroid have legions of dedicated followers, we think it's fair to say that Kirby, as a Nintendo star in his own right, doesn't get the recognition he deserves. So, if you've never played a Kirby game before, you could do a lot worse than this.
While Mario's journey to three dimensions saw his games turn into fully free-roaming efforts, Kirby 64 stays true to the series' roots and is a proper side-scrolling platform game with a 3D facelift. Think New Super Mario Bros. on the DS with Kirby in the starring role.
In The Crystal Shards, Kirby has to help the fairy Ribbon recover the shards of a Power Crystal which is the source of the fairies magic. There are 100 pieces of crystal to collect as you battle enemies and bosses in six worlds. There are three multi-player games too.
For those unaware of the pink lad's abilities, Kirby can swallow his enemies using his vacuum-like mouth and steal their abilities. This adds a great tactical element to the game, as you decide which is the best ability for the occasion. It also means it's not just another run of the mill 2D platformer.
Yet while the likes of Mario and Donkey Kong moved with the times on N64, Kirby's old school 2D platforming meant that he was left behind a bit.
It's a shame because this is an enjoyable little platformer and proof that Kirby should be much more popular than he is.