You are probably thinking to yourself that nothing could be more adorable than the little pink puffball that is Kirby. That is exactly what I thought until I saw a troupe of ten tiny Kirbys on my DS in Kirby Mass Attack. Cuteness isn’t everything, which is why I am happy to report that Kirby Mass Attack is also a fantastic portable game.
The typical Kirby gameplay is gone in Mass Attack in favor of controlling a little horde of Kirbys entirely with the DS touch screen – making for a game that could only be done on Nintendo’s handheld. Kirby has been split into ten little Kirbys by the evil skull guy Necrodeus.
You start each of the five worlds with just a single little Kirby. Fruit can be found everywhere in these worlds, which is good news for Kirby, since once he ingests 100 fruits a new Kirby will spawn, up to the full complement of ten Kirbys. Sadly, Kirbys can be lost as well. If a Kirby gets hit, he will turn blue. If he gets hit again he turns into an angelic ghost and starts floating off to Kirby heaven. Any remaining Kirbys can grab onto the ghost though and bring him back to earth and life.
You will want to take good care of your Kirbys. You will be awarded medals at the end of each level depending on whether any Kirbys were injured or lost. More importantly there are certain areas of the levels that will require the full weight or strength of ten Kirbys to gain access. Plus, the more Kirbys that swarm an enemy, the easier they will go down. Really there is nothing more enjoyable than seeing a Waddle Dee get mobbed and pummeled by conflux of Kirbys. On the rare occasion that you lose all of your Kirbys, you will be forced to start the level over from the beginning, which is one of the few instances of frustration in this game.
The controls in Kirby Mass Attack are surprisingly elegant for a game that is touch-based. Tap on a spot on screen and all the kirbys will converge. Double-tap and the whole flock will come running. If you tap and hold, you can effectively gather up all your Kirbys, and draw a line which they will float on for a short distance. Individual Kirbys can be flicked to reach higher areas. There will be times where you need to attack multiple enemies at once, which is another time you will want to utilize the flick to divvy up your forces. Mostly the controls where a joy to use, but occasionally a Kirby could get stuck somewhere, or left behind when you have to move your troops very quickly. It was a minor frustration at worst.
Kirby Mass Attack works brilliantly as a portable game. Levels are easy to consume three to ten minute chunks. You can pick and choose what levels you tackle, so if you get stuck on one, most of the time you can just skip it. HAL Laboratory really explores the core game mechanic and introduces tons of variation on the main theme. Any time that I felt like I might be getting a little bored, or things felt like they might be getting repetitious, the next level would throw something completely crazy at you like having your whole herd of Kirbys jump into a giant Kirby tank, which, of course, shoots Kirbys. Not to mention the various bosses and mini-bosses you will encounter through out.
There is an absolute mountain of content here. The worlds all have different themes, and each level has a number of coins that you will want to collect, as they unlock even more content in the form of mini games. Many of the levels have multiple pathways and shortcuts, and they just beg to be played over again to pick up any missed coins, or to go for a higher medal. The mini games vary in quality and depth, but some are shockingly fun. The RPG battle mini game sticks out in my mind, as it seems like it could spawn its own game (I would buy it).
As what will almost certainly be one of the last first party games created for the Nintendo DS, Kirby Mass Attack is a fitting tribute. It is effortlessly charming, deceptively simple, and absolutely adorable without going into the realm of cavity-causing sweetness. It allows you to choose your own level of engagement, whether that is to romp though without a care in the world, or to take on the challenge of getting every collectable and gold medal. Which ever way you go, you are sure to have a great time with Kirby Mass Attack.
This review is based on a retail copy of Kirby Mass Attack provided by the reviewer. It is a Nintendo DS exclusive.