Kirby 64 was highly anticipated as one of the franchises Nintendo needed to revive to save its dying console, yet its release towards the end of the N64's life cycle did little to help the N64. The game added a few advancements to the Kirby formula: Kirby has been able to copy his enemies' abilities since Kirby's Adventure, but in Crystal Shards he can combine two abilities (this feature was later carried over to Squeak Squad for the DS) to make a new one. There are 7 total ability types, making a total of 49 combinations (the weirdest ability allows Kirby to throw a flesh boomerang at enemies). The game was also the first 3-D foray for Kirby, however the game is still a side-scroller; the 3-D levels wrap around themselves, or have background elements that Kirby must gain access to, a la Super Paper Mario, making the extra dimension more than a cosmetic detail.
Combining abilities is neat, but many of the combinations are repetitive and don't change the very basic platforming action. Likewise, the three dimensional levels don't add much to Kirby 64's undeniably simple gameplay. The game is definitely geared towards younger gamers (not necessarily "kids"), though sometimes the bosses present unexpected challenge. It has classic music and graphics, and will present nostalgia for Kirby fans (like myself), but I find the 2-D Kirby games much more satisfying.