Kirby: Mass AttackESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Developer: HAL Labs
Touch Screen Control
I have a bias when it comes to Kirby games. Why you ask? Well anyone who has read any of my other Kirby game reviews knows why, Kirby is my name darn it. I even have a Kirby tattoo on my leg. Bias aside, Kirby games usually have a style and charm to them that makes them an enjoyable experience. As I write this, Nintendo is set to release another Kirby game, but for the DS/DSi (it can be played on the 3DS as well). Kirby: Mass Attack has the pink and pudgy fellow once again playing the star role in a new game that is not a traditional Kirby affair.
Visually, Kirby is a great looking game for the DS/DSi. Its’ presentation is cute, cuddly and typically very Nintendo’ish. Given that the game is on the DS/DSi, it is sprite based and two-dimensional. There is ample use of colour as everything is bright, vibrant and pops off the screen. The animation is also good, and technically the game is solid. There is little to no slowdown during gameplay, even when the screen is full of Kirbys and various enemies. Given that the game is on the aging DS/DSi hardware, it is a solid looking title that is typical Kirby fare.
In terms of the audio, there is not a whole lot I can say here. The music is cheery and upbeat, and definitely matches the source material. I have always found that Nintendo is great at matching the music with the on screen action, and Mass Attack is no different. As for the sound effects, Kirby is just as you’d expect, and having so many little Kirbys around sounds pretty cute too. Overall you’ll find nothing to hate here as all the sounds manage to make this a good game.
Kirby games have never been particularly about story, and in Mass Attack it is no different. That being said, there is a semblance of a narrative. The game starts out with Kirby taking a nap when all of a sudden the evil Necrodeus arrives and zaps Kirby with a bolt of magic from his magic staff. This bolt hits Kirby splitting him into ten little Kirbys. Of course being broken into 10 mini Kirbys also causes his well-known powers to disappear as his heroic heart is broken up too. You are the lone Kirby fragment that must make it through the game and try to save yourself.
Although this sounds somewhat simple, not all is as it seems. You start off each area with only one Kirby, and you gain more Kirbys as you scarf down fruit found in each level. The more Kirbys you have, the more powerful you are. Managing to keep all your Kirbys alive is not easy either, as you are afforded only two hits per Kirby, and once this occurs the specific Kirby in question becomes an Angel Kirby, and if you can’t knock him down before he floats off, you lose him and must eat more fruit again in order to produce another one. The reason that this is not that easy is that the screen can fill up with a lot of enemies, and managing all your Kirbys while figuring out how to dispose of the various enemies is a very involved balancing act indeed.
It would not be a Kirby game, or a Nintendo game for that matter of fact, without any boss battles, and the boss battles in Mass Attack can be thinkers to say the least. A majority of them have a distinct pattern that you have to figure out, and strategize against, in order to beat them with as many Kirbys intact as you can manage. It was great to find this challenge in the game. The only thing that concerns me however is that a lot of young ones really love the Kirby games, and I can’t help but wonder if some of these boss battles may be a bit too tough for them. That being said, I know a lot of younger gamers who are great problem solvers, so this could even be a moot point.
One of the biggest things that Mass Attack does so differently then with most Kirby games is that the control is done with the stylus only. Yes, there is no need to use the d-pad here my friends. You use the touch screen to move your Kirbys around the levels, to hurl them at enemies, and to get through the entire game. I have to say that personally, although I like Nintendo’s innovation, I have never been a big fan of stylus only controls for a game on a DS, but in the end it just works for Mass Attack, and many doubters out there should give this aspect a chance.
For those worried that there is not much gameplay in Mass Attack, you’ll have to think again. There are five worlds with 10 levels per world, so there are a lot of areas for you to explore. Within these worlds are a lot of secrets too, and some of these secrets will require you to have 10 Kirbys in order to find them. In terms of replayabiity, you’ll be searching for medals in each level, and the more you collect the more ‘bonus’ stuff you open such as mini-games and a music player. I like the fact that you could open up more mini-games, some of which are really fun.
Not only will you come back for more in order to search for those medals you missed, but you will also come back over and over again while saying “one more time”. This “gotta do it” approach is in an effort to get a gold star on each level, which can only be accomplished by not allowing one single Kirby to get hurt. It is almost virtually impossible to complete this task, but it can be done with a little luck and a lot of perseverance.
Mass Attack is strictly a single player affair with no cooperative or adversarial modes to be found.
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