Gameplay is viewed from a 2.5D perspective and is similar to previous Kirby titles; the player traverses levels and obtains powers by eating enemies. Kirby 64 introduces Power Combos, the ability to mix powers to create more powerful ones. In a multiplayer mode, up to four players can compete in three minigames. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is a side-scrolling platformer similar to previous games in the Kirby series. Its story begins when Dark Matter invades Ripple Star, a planet populated by fairies. The fairy Ribbon flees with a sacred crystal, but Dark Matter shatters it and spreads it across the galaxy. Ribbon lands on Pop Star and meets Kirby, who agrees to help retrieve the shards and defeat Dark Matter. Along the way, they enlist the help of artist Adeleine, King Dedede, and Dedede’s minion Waddle Dee. Similar to contemporary platformers such as Pandemonium! (1996) and Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (1997), Kirby 64 is a 2.5D platformer; although environments and characters are rendered in 3D computer graphics, gameplay is restricted to a 2D plane. Players control Kirby using the Nintendo 64 controller’s D-pad. Like earlier Kirby games, Kirby can walk or run, crouch, jump, and inhale enemies or objects to spit them out as bullets. He can fly for a limited time by inflating himself; while flying, Kirby cannot attack or use his other abilities, though he can release a weak puff of air. By eating certain enemies, Kirby can gain copy abilities, power-ups allowing him to take on the properties the enemy possessed. King Dedede is also playable at certain points, and can use his hammer to break objects Kirby cannot.