Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is a 2000 platform game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It is the first Kirby game to feature 3D computer graphics and follows Kirby as he attempts to reassemble a sacred crystal shattered by Dark Matter.
Despite the fact that Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards features full 3D graphics for the first time, the game itself still plays like a 2D sidescroller. The game makes another distinction from its predecessors, giving Kirby only seven different abilities to copy, as opposed to the vast ability pool of other games. The base abilities are Burn, Stone, Ice, Needle, Bomb, Spark, and Cutter. However, by inhaling enemies, Kirby can create ability stars, which he can spit at other enemies. If an ability star connects to another enemy with an ability, the two abilities will merge and form a Power Combo. By combining abilities, Kirby can master 28 different abilities, plus the seven base abilities, making a total of 35 abilities. While ability combinations exist and have existed to a degree in several other titles, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is the first and so far only game in the series where every copy ability can be mixed with every other ability (excluding Ribbon’s Crystal).
The game features six levels, or planets, each with three or four stages and one boss fight. From the beginning, only the first stage of Pop Star is available. In every stage, there are three Crystal Shards to be found. The Crystal Shards are often hidden in remote places or behind obstacles that can be destroyed only by a certain ability (usually indicated by the obstacle’s color). Finding all the Crystal Shards is not necessary to complete the game, but it is essential to 100% complete the game, as finding all 74 Crystal Shards (66 from every stage, six from every boss, and two during the intro) unlocks the true ending of the game.