i suppose i was in a puzzle mood, because even though i’d recently played a fair amount of puzzle league recently, via planet puzzle league, i spent some time checking out kirby’s star stacker for the original game boy. i suppose you could think of the game as a sort of expansion on the core mechanic of yoshi for NES. in that game you stack pieces vertically and are tasked with putting enemies in between two pieces of an egg in order to clear them. in this game you try to put stars in between two matching pieces, where instead of eggs you have kirby’s three buddies from kirby’s dream land 2. like many such puzzle games this game also has a combo system, where not only do pieces drop and make chained matches, but after the second match stars rain down from the top of the board to fill in blank spaces and keep the chain going. this addition works quite well, and does add a unique twist to the otherwise shallow combo mechanics.
the game itself is otherwise fairly bland. the game is easy since you can make combos with two of the same character pieces with no stars in between them, and so making huge chains is often just a matter of filling up the board and then making one move to start the chain. perhaps it’s not surprising that both this game and pokemon trozei both have a simple combo system since both series skew towards a fairly young demographic.
the game has the usual range of modes, and adding to the mindlessness is that in the regular mode the game actually shows you the first move, which in the early stages often clears the entire board. the regular mode does inject a little personality in that after you clear all the rounds at a certain difficulty level you’ll get to see a little image of the characters in a cute pose, but otherwise even the kirby trappings are pretty minor.
it was nice to check out this bit of kirby and nintendo history, but this game is definitely not a high point in the history of puzzle games. the core mechanics are solid, though, and it may be that a more-worthwhile game is buried in there waiting to come out some day (for example, just adding a fourth animal friend would make the chances of making a combo much less, thus requiring more skill from the player).
stack these kirby’s star stacker links:
– as usual, kirbysrainbowresort.net has everything you’d want to know about the game and then some
– ending images at vgmuseum.com
– entry at wikipedia
– review at nintendolife
– information on its japan-only SNES sequel, at kirby.wikia.com