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Kirby in Underwater Purgatory: A Review

The Control lockup glitch in the newly re-released Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards took me to a very dark (underwater) place.

I had a fun plan today, to write a little story about Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. It’s a game I rented for my Nintendo 64 back when it was released, around 2000 (so I was in the middle of high school), and while I only had it for a few days (a Blockbuster Video rental, if I recall correctly), it certainly made an impression. I very distinctly recalled one song — more like a riff from a song — from a purple-hued cave level. It had that distinct N64 robo-vocal sound to it, and it was a series of (excuse my limited musical vocabulary) “oohs” and “whoa-oooh’s” and I can still hear it now, 22 years later. I thought I’d play the game, revisit the level, and get nostalgic for the iconic sound design.

The game is pretty great: it is a little slow (or rather, as my colleague Imran pointed out in our staff chat, Kirby himself is slow, but enemies move at a quicker pace). But it has that 2.5D design (immediately recalling another N64 classic, Mischief Makers) and really fun level design, and I was bopping right through it until the world 2 boss killed me far too many times. 2.5D is very pretty, but occasionally, it can be hard to read. Also, my Kirby skills are… as rusty as my memory of this game.

Alas, I made it to the water world, and eventually to a fishy miniboss, and there, this control lock-up glitch got me. It’s pretty wild, because it both locks up your controls and makes you invincible, and this particular area is a big swirling circle of current, so… Kirby just kept floating by. In helpless little locked up circles.

After awhile, I decided this was purgatory: it’s not great, I can’t make any progress. But, with that upbeat “you can do it!” music and the fact that I’m now technically invincible, well, things could be worse.

It’s been a long, long week, my friends.