|“||Kirby reunited with Rick, Kine, and Coo to unleash their puzzle power! As blocks fell from the sky, Kirby sandwiched stars between his pals and stacked sets together. Much as in Kirby's Avalanche, the key to high scores was chain reactions.”|
|— Summary • Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition|
Kirby's Star Stacker, known in Japan as カービィのきらきらきっず (Kābī no Kirakira Kizzu, meaning Kirby's Sparkling Kids), is a puzzle Kirby game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy. It was first released in Japan in January 1997, in North America in July 1997, and in Europe a month later. It uses elements from various other puzzle games, such as Puyo Puyo/Kirby's Avalanche, Tetris, and Dr. Mario. It received a remake for the Super Famicom in Japan under exactly the same Japanese title.
|“||Hi! I'll teach you the rules for this game now! Use your friends to collect ★'s!! Sandwich ★'s between like friends to stack the ★'s. If another friend is between, you won't collect it. When you can chain your stacks together, bonus ★'s will fall! Use chain reactions to get lots of ★'s at one time! With the bonus ★'s, you get, you can connect even more chains!! Here comes Dedede's fist! When you set the block... whammo! ...wow! Get caught on a center column and the game is over.”|
|— Rules • Kirby's Star Stacker|
At the start of a game, the arena with be filled with various blocks. The arena has six columns and nine rows. A pair of blocks will begin to fall from the third and fourth column once the round starts. The blocks can be rotated clockwise by pressing A or counterclockwise by pressing B. Pressing right or left will move the pair of falling blocks in the desired direction. Pressing down will cause them to fall faster. Upon landing, the next pair of blocks will begin to fall. Upon having a star/stars positioned between like animal friends, the star(s) will disappear along with the Friend Blocks used to eliminate them. These stars will be subtracted from the number displayed on the right side of the screen (in Round Clear mode) or added to the number (in the case of all other modes). Any blocks above the blocks that were destroyed will fall. This can cause chain reactions under certain circumstances. Having two or more like Friend Blocks adjacent to each other (excluding diagonals) will cause them to disappear. This can also contribute to chain reactions.
Chain reactions produce bonus stars, which can be used to create more chain reactions. A chain of two will produce two bonus stars, a chain of three will produce four bonus stars, a chain of four will produce five bonus stars, a chain of five will produce six bonus stars, and a chain of six or higher will produce twelve bonus stars. Each bonus star will fall into a different column (excluding chains of six or higher, where two stars will drop in each column), being the ones with the least rows filled in. These bonus stars, whether they are used to continue the chain reaction or not, will still be subtracted from/added to the score. If a chain is going on without requiring bonus stars, they will not fall until the chain is over. Some stars may not fall if a column is completely full. In the top right corner is a display of the pair of blocks the player will use next.
By causing a chain of five to occur, the 1UP tune will play; a chain higher than five will play a higher pitched version of the first few notes of the fanfare theme.
Periodically, a trembling fist will appear on the right side of the screen. After the player places the pair of blocks (which can result in stars being eliminated or even a chain), the fist will slam down and a new row of blocks will appear, raising all the other blocks up by one. This can be both helpful and harmful. If can help by producing more Friend Blocks, allowing for stars to be destroyed, but if can also be harmful by limiting space and possibly causing the player to fail the round. Any Friend Blocks that are produced from this action will not be under a like Friend Block unless another is between them.
As the difficulty increases, new blocks are introduced. The Bomb Block acts like a Star Block, but will destroy the row it's in upon being activated; blocks being destroyed in the explosion will not count towards the score; it first appears in Hard mode in round 5. The Hard Block acts like a star, but it needs to be "sandwiched" twice to be eliminated; it first appears in Very Hard mode in round 4.
The right side of the screen displayed the current difficulty mode (based on Kirby's facial expression); the round number; the pair of blocks that will fall next; King Dedede's head (Round Clear), Tick-Tock Jr. (Time Attack), or Mr. Star in other modes, both of which will be replaced by the fist periodically; number of stars that need to be eliminated (Round Clear) or number of stars currently eliminated (all other modes); number of chains (if applicable); and Kirby himself. He walks in place during most of the game, shoots bonus stars when chains are created, panics when there are only two rows remain in the middle columns, falls over when he loses a round, and flies away on his Warp Star when a difficulty level is completed. In Round Clear, if three or less stars are left to end the round, King Dedede appears excited; if there are two rows left in the middle columns, he begins laughing hysterically.
There are four game modes in Kirby's Star Stacker.
Round clear is the main mode of the game, and it is split into five difficulty modes. Normal mode has eight rounds and is effectively a tutorial. Hard mode, Very Hard! mode, and Super Hard mode each have sixteen rounds. Insane! mode, the game's hardest difficulty setting, has fifty rounds, and is not available by default. It can only be played when all other modes are completed.
Rounds are cleared by eliminating a set number of stars. Each stage takes on a theme, such as forests or the galaxy. When each round is cleared, the player is rewarded with special artwork using the themes of each stage.
VS is the game's multiplayer mode. It can only be played by connecting two Game Boy systems together.
Challenge is an endless mode. The object of this mode is to eliminate as many stars as possible before the stack of blocks reaches the top of the screen; after every 100 stars scored, the game speeds up slightly and the music changes. In-game artwork is awarded depending on the amount of stars collected, often encouraging the player to try harder next time (until the final picture is received).
The goal of time attack is to eliminate as many stars as possible in 3 minutes.
There is a high score table for the Challenge and Time Attack modes, showing the top three scores for each mode.
|Main article: Kirby's Star Stacker/Music|
|“||Everyone's favorite tuff-guy, puff-ball action hero, Kirby, returns for puzzle fun in Kirby's Star Stacker for Game Boy! In the tradition of classic puzzle games like Tetris, Kirby's Star Stacker challenges you to manipulate pairs of falling objects to clear away as many stars as you can. Of course, the more you play, the faster the objects fall, and the more lines of new objects spring up from the bottom of the screen. It's a familiar concept with its own unique twists that will keep puzzle players pounding their Game Boy Control Pad for hours!”|
|— Description • Kirby's Star Stacker website|
- Excluding Kirby Slide, a sliding puzzle game with no characters to speak of, Kirby's Star Stacker and Kirby's Toy Box are the only games in the Kirby series that do not feature any female characters.
- Of all the games in the Kirby series, Kirby's Star Stacker has the longest full-game speedrun. The top run was finished with a time of 4:17:37.31 on April 22, 2017.