Like the 3DS, the DS didn’t exactly have a fruitful line-up at launch. Most titles were your typical launch titles or experiments to learn how to use the touch screen. Kirby Canvas Curse was one of the first original DS titles that gamers could truly say was an stellar experience on the platform. Now that the 3DS has been out for seven months, the DS is slowly but surely working its way out. It’s almost fitting that Kirby would also be one of the last titles for the platform, but can Kirby provide the same bang the end of the DS’ life that it gave the DS’ birth?
Like Kirby Canvas Curse, Kirby Mass Attack keeps loose ties with the series. Outside of its more laid back level designs and unique pacing, there isn’t much in common here. This time around he even sheds his power absorption abilities. The twist here is that there is not one, but 10 Kirbies. In short, it’s a lot like what you’d imagine a side-scrolling Pikmin title to be. In most cases, moving the Kirbies is no problem. Using the touchscreen exclusively, it works just as you’d imagine. Tap on the screen and the Kirbies will move there, double tap and they’ll run, flick a Kirby a direction to launch him at a foe or object, and you can even grab onto the Kirbies and drag them for a short period of time through the air.
The problem here is that individually, or in groups, the Kirbies are difficult to control. Except for when flicking a Kirby, every Kirby will react to every command. This creates mass chaos on screen. If a group of Kirbies are stuck on an object in the level, and other Kirbies are move ahead. The camera doesn’t pan out, so your screen is the limit. If an enemy is on screen at the same time, you’re a sitting duck. Trying to get the Kirbies unstuck sends your safe Kirbies into danger, and the Kirbies stuck are difficult to command while they’re sandwiched between the an object and the corner of your screen. In general, the player is unable to adjust the view, which creates for some frustrating moments as you have to move the Kirbies around the screen to get a better view ahead of yourself. It just feels like there isn’t enough space on the DS screen to effectively govern all your little Kirbies. Otherwise, as long as your Kirbies stay as a single mass, the title plays just fine. Unlike other Kirby games, it’s less about platforming and more about timing your attacks and having careful aim when flicking your Kirbies.
Kirby Mass Attack is a surprisingly lengthy adventure, given the series’ past record. Completing the Mass Attack takes around 10 hours or so, and that doesn’t include getting the highest rank on each level, accomplishing achievements and collecting medals. That being said the title rarely puts up a fight. Once you eat enough fruit to spawn 10 Kirbies , almost nothing can stand in your way. Timing is almost thrown out the window as you flood the enemy with your small Kirby army, defeating them within seconds. Strategy is overcome by pure Kirby power. You get a glimpse at what could have been at the start of each world, when you’re stripped of all but one Kirby. At lower numbers, you really have to watch your Kirbies and management them between foes and tasks. But, once you’re back up to 10, you’re good to go to plow through the rest. Losing Kirbies isn’t much of a problem either, as simply touching a dead Kirby with another in a certain time frame brings them back to life.
Unfortunately, the low difficulty is what makes Mass Attack incredibly repetitive. What’s left is just the challenge of aiming your flicks right. Thankfully, as with most Kirby titles, there are tons of fun mini-games packed in as both extras and as alternative mechanics to complete levels. There’s a pinball game, a side scrolling shooter using a tank, a short timing based RPG and a top down shooter. There are some less notable extras, but Kirby easily makes up for it in the sheer number of mini-games or mini-game like sequences. Most of these include a score, which will bring gamers back over and over again to try to compete with past records. That being said, it’s still a fraction of the amount of levels found in the game, leaving most levels as Kirby mob fests.
Like past Kirby titles, Kirby Mass Attack uses 2D visuals. They’re are polished and pretty much what you’d expect from a Kirby title. Despite the busy nature, there’s no noticeable slowdown, which is an impressive feat, especially with the aging DS hardware. Mass Attack does provide a pleasing soundtrack, complete with even some minor vocals within the tracks.
Kirby Mass Attack… It’s alright. The low difficulty and ridiculous power of all 10 Kirbies at once is not doing the title any favors. Most of the challenge comes from a lack of a dynamic camera, and that’s not the kind of challenge you want. The large variety in mini-games definitely help, but you can find that in other Kirby titles. If you do decide to pick up the title, at least you will get a solid amount of content. Although that’s only if you want to stick through to the end.
out of 10
- Large variety of enjoyable pick-up and play mini-games
- Solid visuals and an above average soundtrack
- Classic Kirby level design and pacing
- 10 Kirbies plus a lack of difficulty equals no strategy, which equals no fun
- Lack of a dynamic camera leads to some frustrating moments