Dark Matter is back, covering Pop Star in a malevolent cloud of darkness. It has once again possessed King Dedede, and commands the King's minions from its stronghold in Iceberg. Kirby must team up with Gooey, a benign blob of Dark Matter, as well as six Animal Friends on his quest to defeat Dark Matter once more. Travel through worlds with different climates and terrain and defeat Dark Matter's powerful bosses to put an end to its evil reign.
Kirby's Dream Land 3 is a very linear game. It is split into 5 worlds on Pop Star, each world containing 6 levels and an area boss. Every level must be played in a set order and there are no way to skip to other levels.
Heart Stars are a new collectible that can be obtained from each standard stage in the game. Each Heart Star has a special requirement that has to be completed in order to collect it. Getting every Heart Star in the game is needed for total completion, as well as to unlock the final boss battle. The method of obtaining every Heart Star is detailed in the individual level pages. If you have already obtained the Heart Star of certain stage, you will get 1UP instead. Generally, the method of obtaining a Heart Star is:
- X-1: Do something on the plants in this stage.
- X-2: Use a certain ability on a specified character.
- X-3: There will be a mini game in middle of stage. Beat that without a miss.
- X-4: Rescue a specified character trapped somewhere. Most of the time you must beat a mini-boss.
- X-5: Bring a specified Animal Friend to end of stage. You may have to brought them from other stages.
- X-6: Either collect specified items, or break blocks to remain a specified pattern.