Kirby's Star Stacker (Game Boy) Review

By Adam Riley 18.11.2012

Review for Kirby

Kirby has been the star of so many random projects over the years, from the likes of golf and racing titles to pinball, a Breakout clone and even a motion-sensing outing. Back on the Game Boy in 1997, though, the popular little spherical hero was thrown into a charming puzzle effort called Kirby's Star Stacker, which has recently made its way onto the Virtual Console scene via the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Anyone that has played the likes of Tetris, Dr. Mario or even Kirby's Ghost Trap (the spin-off of SEGA's Puyo Puyo series) will know the score with Kirby's Star Stacker. Blocks fall from above and must be matched up in order to make them disappear, adding to the running points total ('stars' collected, rather than traditional points) and preventing a 'Game Over.' The more cleared, the faster the speed of the falling cubes. Simple as that! At the time of release, Kirby's Star Stacker was amazing, and was glued to this particular reviewer's Super Game Boy (yes, enhanced with colour on the TV through a SNES! How sad it is that Nintendo has not included the Super Game Boy enhancements in recent Virtual Console releases…). Now, though, whilst the original charm is definitely still there, its appeal wears thin far too quickly in the face of strong competition from far more developed puzzle efforts, with Nintendo's Puzzle League and new versions of Tetris throwing new mode after new mode at players to keep them satiated.

Is it all bad, however? Certainly not. The core template works extremely well, with the aim being to gain as many stars as possible by matching groups of Kirby's friends as they drop from the top of the screen. As more of Rick the Hamster, Coo the Owl, and Kine the Fish are indeed matched up, sometimes not adjacent to each other but by being connected by blank blocks attached to them, stars drop quickly and can cause combo moves, with the fallen stars acting as blank blocks and creating a connection between any identical friend blocks spread across a particular row. With only three characters to match, though, sometimes gaining chain reactions is far too easy.

Screenshot for Kirby's Star Stacker on Game Boy

Round Clear, Vs., Challenge, and Time Attack are the four modes on offer, with Rules there for real rookies that need hand-holding through the gameplay basics, as well as Records for keeping track of high scores. If anything, Kirby's Star Stacker is probably one of those puzzle games that tries to keep matters as pure as possible, relying more on the four difficulty levels (Normal through to Super Hard, all with cute little Kirby facial expressions to express how taxing they are -- the face for Super Hard is particularly funny) to give players a real test. Actually, there is a fifth difficulty level that eventually unlocks -- 'Insane' -- so anyone with high blood pressure should steer clear!

Round Clear is the main chunk of the action, and dependent on the level chosen, there are differing numbers of stages to complete. The idea is to play through various themed areas -- forests, galaxies, and so on -- reaching the goal by only using a set number of stars to trigger combination clearances. Vs. is the obligatory multiplayer option that sadly cannot be accessed on Virtual Console at the moment, whilst Challenge is basically an endless scenario where everything must be cleared continuously before the blocks reach the top of the screen. Finally, Time Attack puts three minutes on the clock and pushes players to achieve the highest score in the allotted time. High scores can be checked for Challenge and Time Attack, whilst pieces of artwork can be collected when working through Round Clear and Challenge to add more incentive for jumping back into the thick of it. Kirby's Star Stacker may seem thin on the ground in terms of content compared to today's puzzle efforts, but it has a certain magnetism that makes it endearing even after 15 years.

Screenshot for Kirby's Star Stacker on Game Boy

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Back when it was released, Kirby's Star Stacker was an amazing piece of puzzling goodness. Now, 15 years down the road, it has been surpassed by so many other games in the same genre that some of the sheen has obviously faded. Far be it from being a woeful example of block-matching, though, as it still proves to be addictive enough to warrant the eShop Virtual Console price tag of £2.70. Whilst it should be noted that there are more in-depth puzzlers to be sampled, and that merely getting sucked in by the Kirby façade would be naïve, it is certainly not one to completely ignore due to its age.

Also known as

Kirby no Kirakira Kizzu


HAL Laboratory







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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