A pile of pink that’s worth your attention!
Developer: HAL Laboratory, Inc.
Release Date: September 19, 2011
Score: 4.9 / 5
It’s been a long while since I’ve picked up any form of Kirby game. Not that I don’t enjoy the cutest pink blob, far from it, seeing as how the Kirby franchise is my favorite Nintendo IP. The last game to grace one of my systems was Kirby Canvas Curse, which I enjoyed, despite a few personal issues with the title here and there. Now Kirby Mass Attack enters my Nintendo DS and I found I had a hard time turning off the system for breaks.
The premise behind Kirby Mass Attack is that Kirby has been split into ten portions by Necrodeus, the leader of the Skull Gang. Each Kirby, while not having the vacuum abilities I’m accustomed to, is powerful enough to take down enemies single-handedly. Though the power to take down enemies lies with gaining all ten Kirbys. To gain a new Kirby, you’ll need to eat one-hundred pieces of fruit. Each piece of fruit is worth different amounts on the meter that is shown on the top screen. Apples are worth one, bananas are worth ten, and the green fruit I can’t identify is worth thirty. There is also a Maxim Tomato that fills your bar completely and instantly gives you another Kirby.
To get to all those delicious fruit, you must guide Kirby by using the touchscreen. There are no other controls in the came, except the Start button to pause. When you use your stylus to touch the screen, a star will appear and all Kirbys will follow it. Tap twice quickly to watch your army run across the screen. You can also gather your Kirbys at a point, at which a blue line will appear around them. This is used to get your Kirbys to hard to reach areas. You’ll also be flicking Kirbys around, mostly at enemies, like boogers. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
When actually starting the game, you’ll be presented with three save slots and options. For those who are left-handed, you’ll be happy to know that there is a left-handed option control for the game. Once you pick a file you’ll be shown the progress you’ve made through the game along. When you’ve played a few levels and gained enough medals, two other options Extras and Checklist will also appear. In Extras, this is where the mini-games and other fun little unlockables will be. To unlock them, you’ll need to collect Medals found throughout each level. Though Nintendo seems to not be fond of achievements, there are a list of sorts in the Checklist for different challenges you complete while playing. The downside for those wanting to know what you’ll need to do in order to get them is, they’re not listed. Instead, once you complete an item in the Checklist, it replaces the ??? for the proper text of what you accomplished.
Once past the story, you’re presented with the map of the first world. Each world has a Warp Star, so that you can travel to different worlds. They also have levels, but they’re not presented in sequential order on the touch screen. Instead, the number on the level represents how many Kirbys you’ll need to enter. This is a great mechanism for giving a basic indication to the player how difficult the level may be in comparison to the rest. Levels are numbered on the top screen too, so if you’re looking to try to go in order, you’ll just need to pay attention to both screens. Also on this screen, there will eventually be Daroach’s Airship sitting at the bottom left of the touch screen. He’ll provide hints on where to find medals, but nothing specific unless you’ve already played through the level and know what he’s talking about.
Diving into levels at first seems to be slower paced. The beginning level is geared towards showing players how to navigate and attack enemies, but also serves a purpose in allowing you to gather your Kirbys up for the levels to come. This level is filled with help bubbles that demonstrate how to perform moves or a hint about what’s up ahead. Later on in the game, they help introduce new gameplay mechanics that can alter how you play, such as making you rush when you’d normally go through methodically. Once this level is finished, you’re presented with a bubble for popping that will come into play in all worlds, the rainbow bubble. Popping it provides a rainbow bridge to other levels in the world and is vital to advancing since not all the levels are connected at first. One annoyance I found was that there was never a real hint that I could tell that showed which of the levels had the rainbow bubble at the end. It’s a minor gripe though since exploring is a big part of the game.
After a few of the easier levels, the game starts to shine. Each level throughout the game I’ve found varies in length, so if you’re expecting shorter levels towards the beginning and longer towards the end, it’s not always the case. When you go through each level, you’ll notice there are no save points. That’s because the game saves once you’re finished with a level. If you die, you’ll have to start the level over again, but you’ll still have all the Kirbys you started with. Once you gain ten Kirbys, it’s hard to die however. Kirbys don’t have a health bar, but three colors that determine how they’re doing with pink being the standard starting out color. Blue means the Kirby has been hit once and another will send him to gray, which will put wings on him. You’ll need to catch these Kirbys as they float up before they leave the screen to save them. Once you do save them, they’ll return to the blue color. Instead of collecting health to make your Kirbys go back to pink, you’ll need to find rings throughout the level that you put Kirby through to heal. They’re generously placed in each level, so finding one when you need it the most isn’t too difficult. Also placed in each level is a skipping door. This allows you to skip the rest of the level and get to the end. Useful in hunting for medals.
When it comes to each world, they each have their own theme and introduce new mechanisms. An example is in world four where there is lava which can burn Kirby. To keep each from dying, you’ll need to find a pool of water to cool off. On a more simpler level, in most levels are roots hanging down or out that you’ll need to pile Kirbys on to pull on to dislodge, although some roots require more Kirbys than others. Other times you’ll be tapping rapidly on the screen once you dislodge an enemy or root most of the way to give a final freeing yank. *SPOILER* Although a spoiler, I’ve got to briefly mention the Kirby tank I encountered in one level. This wonderfully amusing contraption has you using each of your Kirbys as ammo as you plow through rocks, blocks, and enemies through the level. */SPOILER* Another fun time I’ve had was when Kirby would get the Jumbo Candy. Imagine ten huge, adorable pink puffs, creating havoc in their wake. It was these and other little bits that put this game in the stratosphere for me.
Even when the main game itself is fun, there’s also mini-games that add more value to the game. There’s a variety from a whack-a-mole type game to an RPG inspired game of sorts. Probably my favorite mini-game though was the pinball. It’s not as fleshed out as most pinball games, but it has more going for it than the original NES Pinball. This game alone had me distracted from the main game for at least an hour. All the games keep high scores, so you can go back later and try to best your own scores.
It wasn’t all roses for playing though. One point that made this not a perfect five for me was the fact there are certain levels which cannot be accessed unless you find a particular button and exit. I didn’t mind the exploration, but when I was ready to move on and face new challenges, I wasn’t allowed to advance unless I went through each level that it could be in. Thankfully, these didn’t crop up often, so it’s not a glaring negative. Also on the annoyance side, though I appreciate them for what they are, are cloud enemies that are similar to the Wallmasters or Clutches in Zelda games. These clouds can suck up all your Kirbys and put you back to the beginning of an area. They can be heartbreaking and annoying, but they do make you a patient player.
Aside from the few squabbles I had, I haven’t had this much fun with a Nintendo DS in a long time. The game has charming music and sounds to compliment the wonderfully addicting gameplay. To those who don’t care for Kirby games, I say give Kirby Mass Attack a chance. For those who already love Kirby as much as I do, go buy it already!
A huge thanks to Nintendo of America for furnishing me with a copy of the game! I’ll cherish the little plush Kirby and put it next to Link on my shelf.