Update: Nintendo has acknowledged the bug in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and plans to release an update early next week. Apologising for the problems through Twitter (opens in new tab), you can find its full statement below:
A bug has been found in #Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards for Nintendo 64 - Nintendo Switch Online that can prevent players from progressing under a certain condition. A patch will be released early next week to fix this. We apologize for the inconvenience.May 27, 2022
Original story: Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards has finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. Unfortunately, this re-release has introduced a new game-breaking bug.
Spotted not long after launch, this new problem occurs in Kirby 64’s underwater level. It's not a great look for Nintendo Switch Online, as further testing has confirmed this wasn’t present in the original N64 edition.
Shared on Reddit by u/Keyblademasternadroj (opens in new tab), they confirmed "Getting hit by certain damage sources underwater causes you to enter hit stun forever, and you need to quit the level to fix it. I don't remember this happening on original hardware."
kirby_64_has_a_game_breaking_bug_in_under_water from r/NintendoSwitch
Presently, Nintendo hasn’t officially commented on this bug, but in the past, it’s usually updated any issues with its emulation quietly without making a statement. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to start playing Kirby 64 soon, there’s no real workaround for this currently, not unless you want to attempt this level without taking any damage. If you get hit, all you can do is quit the level and try again, so you might be better off waiting for a patch.
Not the first sign of emulation trouble
We’ve not seen the smoothest launch for Nintendo Switch Online’s Expansion Pack. Offering a new tier to its subscription service, Nintendo added Sega Mega Drive / Genesis and N64 games to the hybrid console last October, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen emulation issues for those N64 games.
At launch, many accused N64 games of suffering input lag, framerate issues, and missing features. For example, Mario Kart 64 had problems saving Ghost Data, Paper Mario crashed if you died with Watt as your partner, also fixing a fog issue within The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s infamous Water Temple. However, it’s worth noting that technical analysis didn’t believe this to be too much of a problem.
Even still, Nintendo got a whole lot better at emulating N64 games back in January, notably fixing Zelda and Paper Mario’s issues. We’re hopeful then that it’ll fix this new problem with Kirby 64 in a future update too, but when that’ll be is unclear. Still, for a company with the resources Nintendo has, you’d hope this wouldn’t keep happening.