Kirby Mass Attack DS review

Article first published as Nintendo DS Review: Kirby: Mass Attack on Blogcritics.

There’s always quite a rush of games that come out in the fall, vying for Christmas spending after the typically slow period of summer.  While weather here in Southern California has little to do with people’s activity, the school schedule does and everyone knows, students need their entertainment.  Kirby: Mass Attack, for the Nintendo DS, starts off Nintendo’s big fall that includes another Kirby game, Pokemon, Mario games and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii.

Since his introduction, Kirby has been a cute if not slightly derivative staple of the Nintendo lineup.  This touch-only game plays like some strange Sonic the Hedgehog, Lemmings and Mario mash-up.  In the Kirby: Mass Attack game, the evil Necrodeus, an evildoer with a magic cane, uses his magic staff to split the Kirby into ten copies of himself.  Kirby is then forced to set off on a journey to return to his original form and save planet Popstar from darkness.

Players use the touch screen to control a number of Kirby characters in a few different ways.  The primary mode of control is by tapping on the screen where you want your Kirby or Kirbys to go, much like a point and click real time strategy game.  Where it gets a little bit different is that you can also flick them into the air, like shuttlecocks.  For long distance flying, you can hold down the stylus on your mass of Kirbys and then draw a line of the path that you’d like them to follow.  The downside to that method of control is that there is a time limit on the line following.

Enemies are defeated by having all of your Kirbys pile onto them and give them a beat down or sometimes yank them out of the ceiling.  Boss fights typically include some amount of launching the Kirbys, kind of like a Sonic the Hedgehog attack.  Certain enemies as well as switches in the game require a specific number of Kirbys to get past.  You might ask, “How do I get more Kirbys?” by eating of course.  When your fruit pig out meter gets to 100, you will be rewarded with another Kirby.

The levels feel very much like a collage of all of the Mario games you have ever played and for many gamers nothing at all will feel new about this game.  This is both a good thing and a bad thing.  While it’s not terribly innovative everything feels intuitive and a little bit familiar.  It’s kind of like going back playing all of your old favorite games at once.

There is some replayability built in with switches and passages that you might be forced to miss because you don’t have enough Kirbys or because you have chosen a different path.  There are plenty of treasures and medals hidden throughout the fairly lengthy levels in addition to many secret pathways to find.   By collecting medals hidden throughout the various stages, players can also unlock a wide variety of additional mini-games.

Conveniently, all of the unlocked minigames can be accessed from the main menu.  The minigames consist of a Kirby version of Whack-a-mole, pinball, memory, a bunch of intentionally familiar arcade type games and more.  While each of them is fairly short, going back to try to improve your score on the mini-games will make you keep the cartridge handy even after you’ve completed the five worlds in this game.

The familiar feel of the levels does nothing to help the game avoid feeling repetitive at times and the difficulty does steadily increase forcing you to occasionally be forced to replay levels to complete them with a full ten Kirby strong army.  With that being said, Kirby: Mass Attack is a surprisingly fun game and should be part of any Nintendo fan’s library of games.  The touch controls work well and are surprisingly precise enough that you’ll never even think about the d-pad, as you complete the lengthy and sometimes silly story.

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