What's better than one Kirby? How about ten Kirbys! "Kirby Mass Attack" brings exponential Nintendo adorableness to the DS in Kirby's latest release. Opting to forgo his signature sucking power (again) "Mass Attack" allows you to control multiple pink puffs as you try to save Popstar from yet another attack.
While exploring the Popopo Islands, Kirby is attacked by Necrodeus, the leader of the Skull Gang, and divided into ten copies of himself, with only one being able to escape the battle. Throughout "Mass Attack" you gain the ability to bring those other Kirby's back to battle along side the lone survivor, and pummel enemies as a group through a series of 2D side scrolling levels. Players control the direction of the pack via the touch screen, and can control the group or individual Kirbys, based on the task at hand.
Stepping away from the traditional single character side-scrollers of Kirby's past, "Mass Attack" pulls some inspiration from a couple other great DS titles; Kirby's own "Canvas Curse" and "Mario vs. Donkey Kong: March of the Minis." Splitting your character into a series of smaller versions of himself forces the player to not only focus on the task at hand, all while manage numerous tiny pink things running all over the screen. Using the stylus to direct the mass of Kirbys is only half of the battle, as you will also need to amass the group and move them all at once as well, usually out of harms way. Additionally, moving objects by flinging individual Kirbys into them becomes a key element of solving the game's puzzles, as well as serving as a go-to attack method.
Wait, Did I Just Die In A Kirby Game?
Kirby has always been pigeonholed as a platformer for younger gamers, but "Mass Attack" puts an end to that. While it isn’t the most challenging game ever released, it definitely steps up the difficulty from Kirby's last two releases, "Epic Yarn" and "Squeak Squad," and that's a welcome sign for gamers who have been fans of the series since the Game Boy days, and may be looking for something a little more mentally taxing.
The additional content included in "Mass Attack" is almost as good as the story mode in the game. What have become basically throwaway unlockables in DS games over the last few years, the minigames that you unlock by collecting medals in the campaign are actually good. Ranging from a memory game to a Pokemon-esque RPG, going out of your way to find unlock these games is both worthwhile and rewarding activity.
Where'd Everybody Go?
There's a saying about having kids, "one is one, two is ten." Taking that logic and applying it to "Mass Attack," having ten Kirbys bouncing around your screen is like having a billion (well, not really). Managing that many playable characters on a screen can get to be a bit tedious, especially when random ones unintentionally get left behind. Understand that it is the core gameplay mechanic of the game, but also that it also may end up being a source of frustration in the end.
So Many Points
After you have collected your maximum ten Kirbys (which is accomplished by eating 100 pieces fruit per new Kirby), you can continue to consume more produce for bonus points, but why? With no leaderboards, or any Wi-Fi Connection capabilities for that matter, is it really necessary to keep score for each individual level? It seems like an unnecessary addition that actually distracts from the overall gameplay instead of adding to it.
For anyone that remembers Kirby to be a kids' game, or one that doesn't offer up enough challenge for more seasoned gamers, they should give "Mass Attack" a chance. With an increased difficulty, and some unique gameplay mechanics, this game sets itself apart from its predecessors. While it is still missing some hallmarks of the Kirby franchise, "Mass Attack" is both a fun and rewarding experience for a platform that appears to be in its twilight.