Review: Kirby – Mass Attack

How many Kirbys (Kirbies?) does it take to suck up an enemy and copy his abilities? More than 10, apparently.

Kirby – Mass Attack is one of the last Nintendo DS games to come out and it was released not too long ago in Europe, after being available in America for about a month. Is this a proper farewell for one of the most successful gaming devices in history, or will no one remember this game now that the 3DS is taking over?

In Kirby – Mass Attack Kirby is doing nothing in particular as an evil wizard appears and uses his evil wizard wand to divide our one big Kirby into 10 small versions, each naturally weaker than the original. Afterwards, Necrodeus (that’s the wizard’s name) goes on to “defeat” all Kirbys but one and then goes off to spread peril in the universe or something. To save the world an regain his former glory, Kirby takes on the adventure of finding and stopping Necrodeus, which he assumes will ultimately turn him back into a single being. A single cute, adorable, fluffy, sweet little being of cute adorableness.

Mass Attack looks pretty good. The strictly-2D-graphics are colorful, nicely animated, have a smooth frame rate and the designs of all the characters are as cute as you’d expect of a Kirby-game. What surprised me was that I could not tell it was a DS game from visuals alone. Usually, when you play a DS game on your Nintendo 3DS, it gets stretched out to fit the higher-resolution-screen of the new hardware and it’s not hard to tell, but this game displayed no signs of that. I’m pretty sure Nintendo put some extra work into making this one look good on their latest handheld, as they were obviously aware that a lot of people would be playing this one on it. It’s nice to know they were giving this so much thought. Either that or they just such a great job at this game’s looks that it just works when stretched out. The music isn’t quite as catchy as that of most Kirby titles. There are a few songs that make you hum along, there are some familiar tunes, but most of them are just there and provide decent to good atmosphere while playing. The sound effects are cute and just what you’d expect, with Kirby’s little voice samples taking the cakes (10 of them) as per cuteness. Still, the sound isn’t outstanding, but does its job. Kirby – Mass Attack is controlled entirely by touch controls. The only use for the DS’s buttons I could find was hitting Start to pause the game. The Kirbys (or just one of them) move to wherever you point on the screen, whereas double-tapping makes them run and when they come across an enemy they start pummeling it. Weaker enemies can be taken out by a single Kirby, whereas larger and stronger ones take either an entire squad of Kirbys or multiple attempts to defeat. Or both. Doors and other interactable objects in the world are also activated upon contact. You can also fling one Kirby wherever you want by quickly swiping across him into the direction you want to fling him at, which is the only way to destroy blocks or other breakable surfaces and also provides the means of pushing movable objects around. The controls work very well and I never felt like I was screwing up because the game wasn’t responding the way it should. You might be thinking now: “Ok, that’s cool and all, but how do I suck up enemies and stuff?” Well, here’s the thing: You can’t. In his divided form, Kirby in incapable of the thing he is most known for. There isn’t even a substitute as there was in Epic Yarn. This isn’t necessarily what you’d call a classic Kirby game and if Kirby wasn’t the protagonist I’d have a hard time identifying this as a Kirby game at all.

You start off with a single Kirby and have to collect fruit, like apples, bananas, melons or the good old Maximum Tomato to gather points. Once you reach 100 points you get an additional Kirby for up to a maximum of 10. On the world map you can choose between multiple stages you can take on, but most of them have a minimum limit of Kirbys you have to have in order to enter them, so you can’t just do any stage whenever you want. There are multiple gold coins hidden throughout every level, which unlock “extras” when you have collected specific amounts of them. the first few are very unspectacular, but after a while you unlock a really fun and functional shoot ’em up and an “RPG”, which has you fighting hordes of enemies by timing your attacks well, which is pretty fun as well. After those two though, the rewards you gain start being rather neglectable again. One of the available stages generally has a “switch”, which enables access to more levels yet. Which stage the “switch” is on seemed pretty random to me, so if you’re lucky and you don’t care about finishing every stage, you can just skip a few. At least that’s what you’d think. Of the gold coins in every level, one of them is always a Rainbow Coin, which doesn’t seem to have a meaning until later in the game, until you reach what you think is the end and are being told that you need to collect all Rainbow Coins in order to progress to the final area. That’s what I call a dick move, especially since I did play through every single stage but naturally missed some of those coins. And I don’t know about you, but I hate having to redo something unless I have some new means to achieve the goal. Anyway, each area has a boss battle, after which you are sent off to the next place, where you start off with one Kirby again and repeat the process. Each area has a new “gimmick”, so the action never gets repetitive and each level feels fresh. Sadly, some levels seem to drag on needlessly to a point where they feel stretched out and get almost annoying sometimes. Mass Attack isn’t a hard game, because as long as you have at least 2 Kirbys you are almost always able to save a K.O.’d Kirby by making another Kirby hang on to the K.O.’d Kirby’s transcending angel. In return, actually losing one of your little friends is devastating and sometimes I felt a little cheated when I was just barely unable to stop an angel from leaving the screen. Kirby – Mass Attack is a fun game. It’s cute and it’s functional, but if this had any protagonist other than Kirby this probably wouldn’t have gotten too much attention, as it’s not outstanding. Additionally, I kind of wish they had shortened the whole thing a bit and maybe sold it as a downloadable, because I feel like it would have been perfect for that. As a short-ish experience with some fluff it would have been awesome. As a full-price, full-length (at almost 10hours for me) DS game it’s good.


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