Kirby Mass Attack Review
I like to think of the Kirby series as Nintendo's experimental franchise. The company frequently treads new water with Kirby, often trying out different concepts that turn out to be delightfully impressive. Last year, Kirby's Epic Yarn was Nintendo and HAL Laboratory's progressive new endeavor, and it provided gamers with a beautiful gameplay experience that just dripped of aesthetic charm and colorful bliss. Here we are not even a full year later, and Nintendo's pink hero is once again trying something new, this time on the Nintendo DS.
Kirby Mass Attack begins with the titular character fallen victim to a wicked spell at the hands of Necrodius, an evil wizard and the latest villain in the series. The spell splits the rotund hero into 10 separate Kirbys, and the antagonist has no problem defeating all but one of the Kirbys, who retreats to safe ground. It is up to this sole Kirby to seek out the other nine fragments of himself so that they can all combine their strength, band together, and defeat the maniacal Necrodius and his goons.
The first thing you should know about Kirby Mass Attack is that it's completely touch-based. See that D-Pad on your DS? What about all those face buttons? Oh, and I'm certain you noticed the two shoulder buttons. Yeah, you're not using any of those here. Kirby Mass Attack centers all of its control (with a few very rare exceptions for mini-games) on the touch screen and stylus. You move your gang of Kirbys by dragging the stylus across the screen. Double-tapping makes the Kirbys run toward the desired direction. And holding the tip of the stylus to your Kirbys bunches them up and allows you to carry them through the air, albeit for a limited distance. This method of control is implemented flawlessly and works exceptionally well, and it shows off the capabilities of the DS touch screen that plenty of other recent games have forgotten in favor of traditional button controls.
Of course, all of these enjoyable controls wouldn't mean anything without some awesome level design and gameplay mechanics, and you can rest assured that Kirby Mass Attack delivers on both fronts. Everything you do in each of the game's levels is incredibly engaging. Though the game can technically be classified as a platformer, it hardly follows any of the genre's idiosyncrasies and instead delivers a heavily touch-based experience that has your full attention the whole time.
You must guide the Kirbys through large levels, eating tasty fruit and taking out baddies. Eating fruit grants you varying point values, and once you score 100 points, another Kirby joins your party. As previously established, up to 10 of the little guys can be in your crew, and depending on how many you have, the flow of the game can vary. Larger enemies are more resilient and thus require more damage, so approaching these with a smaller number of Kirbys may result in lengthier brawls, which entail tapping on enemies and watching your little pink buddies go to work on them.
Swiping the stylus across the screen proves useful for multiple actions. It can be used as an offensive move to attack strong enemies. It can be utilized to make the Kirbys jump to higher platforms. It can even be used to send them flying into a switch, cracked wall, or explosive block, all of which can help you access new areas within a stage. It's this constant shift in actions that keeps things fresh throughout. And if that isn't enough, Kirby Mass Attack throws you enough curve balls and surprises to provide an even more impressive game. You're likely to be surprised the first time you come across a pinball area or a shoot 'em up stage. But to continue explaining the wonderful level variety would only spoil the surprise in discovering everything for yourself, so all I'll tell you is that there's a lot of content in Kirby Mass Attack, and all of it is good.
The level design in Kirby's latest adventure is totally mind-blowing. Aside from their expansive sizes, all of the stages in Kirby Mass Attack feature their own secrets and items. There are collectible coins hidden within each, and oftentimes you'll need to find an alternate path to collect all of these. There are a total of five worlds in Kirby Mass Attack, and though that number may not seem very daunting, each of these worlds has a nice selection of levels. If your main goal is to reach the end of the game, you can do so in a handful of hours. However, if you're seeking out everything Kirby Mass Attack has to offer, you're going to have to invest some lengthy hours into this magnificent little DS card.
The addition of unlockable mini-games only adds to the sum total of things this game has to offer. Though most of these are fun distractions, a jolly pinball game and a turn-based RPG variant are really two of the standout extras that make for excellent time-stealers. Add to that the lengthy list of in-game achievements Kirby Mass Attack challenges you to conquer, and you've got a full game loaded with countless reasons to play for hours on end. Oh, and if you dare seek out a truly massive challenge, try to earn a gold medal in each stage, which can only be done by reaching the goal without taking a single hit of damage.
I've noticed that as the DS draws its last breaths, software has really upped the quality of the visual presentation this device can turn out. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story was one of the first games I noticed that had truly awesome character animations, and Kirby Mass Attack doesn't fall behind. The way the game's many creatures move is impressive, and seeing how the Kirbys animate as they attack, swim, or run all over each other is a sheer joy to behold. Throw in some beautifully designed backgrounds and tons of color all over the place, and you've got an aesthetically pleasing DS title.
Kirby Mass Attack isn't just pretty-looking, though; it also sounds awesome. The game's music is quirky and catchy, and the same bubbly charm that's seen in the visuals is heard in all of the game's themes. For me, this game's soundtrack won't top those of Kirby's Adventure or Kirby's Epic Yarn, but that's only due to personal preference. I still won't deny that Kirby Mass Attack has a plethora of excellent audio tracks. Oh, and the Kirbys? They sound freaking adorable!
It's a bit strange that Nintendo opted to release Kirby Mass Attack for the DS instead of the 3DS, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, because it gives gamers who don't currently own the Big N's latest handheld the opportunity to enjoy this deliciously awesome title. If you own a DS, I can't recommend Kirby Mass Attack enough. It bleeds unadulterated charm, it offers a fun-filled adventure, and there's enough here to keep any gamer busy for a decent amount of time. Kirby Mass Attack is an amazing bundle of joy, and anyone with a DS should check it out without hesitation.