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Monday, June 4, 2012

Review - Kirby Mass Attack

Kirby games has always been a strong part of my childhood as one of the franchises that I really enjoyed playing. Since then, I have tried nearly every Kirby game out there. However, some games like Tilt'n'Tumble and Canvas Curse were very gimmicky and not as fun as the main Kirby games like Super Star Ultra. So how does this title compare to the other Kirby games?

The story begins with Kirby taking a nap during his vacation at Popopo Islands. Typical lifestyle for the inhabitants of Popstar. But suddenly, the sky begins to darken as Necrodeus, the leader of the Skull Gang, descends from the sky to drown light in darkness. He attacks Kirby with a spell using his staff and splits Kirby into 10, weaker Kirbys. In order for Kirby to return to his usual, stronger self, he would have to use the staff's magic to reverse the curse placed upon him.

The all important gameplay of Mass Attack is much like Canvas Curse, where the game's controls are done entirely by touch screen, except for the pause button. However, instead of drawing lines to lead Kirby, you control Kirby's heroic heart, shaped like a star, which Kirby will follow. You control the heroic heart to lead Kirby through the stages by touching the screen with your stylus. All Kirbys you have will walk towards the star, and can climb up to a certain height, albeit a bit slowly when many Kirbys are climbing up the same ledge. You can also carry your Kirbys by letting a Kirby grab onto the heroic heart, and drag them across gaps and anywhere else with a certain distance limit. You could also fling your Kirbys one at a time by flicking him with your stylus, which is necessary to break blocks, hit switches, push objects, or attack enemies as well. Kirby's AI isn't the best when it comes to following the star, although isn't terribly bad either, like the lack of an AI in Canvas Curse, so other than moving along a smooth landscape, you will often find yourself carrying your Kirbys on the star over terrain that the AI might find hard to navigate. Otherwise, you may find Kirbys hesitating to make a jump off of a ledge, get caught on a wall if they fail to get around a terrain, or simply unable to reach the star without its help.

For attacking, Kirby does not have any copy abilities, nor his ability to inhale enemies at all. He simply has to resort to jumping enemies and beat them up physically. When Kirby touches an enemy, he will latch onto them and pummel them until they lose all their health. If Kirby doesn't do enough damage to take the enemy out, the enemy will shake all the Kirbys off of themselves and resume their normal actions. With more Kirbys pummeling an enemy, you will deal more damage, allowing you to take down bigger enemies faster.

Now, a good portion of Mass Attack's gameplay is reliant on the stages that the game has. Many stages have unique gimmicks of their own that add an interesting twist to what you are supposed to do, kind of like a fun, mini-game rather than navigating through the usual stages in every level. Many of these levels takes advantage of the number of Kirbys you have, and have a minimum Kirby requirement to play some of them for a more balanced experience.

Difficulty in Mass Attack isn't necessarily hard for simply playing through the game, but mostly in effectively managing all 10 Kirbys at once. Most enemies will attack when Kirby gets close, but will get tired or stop their attack afterwards, giving you the chance to attack them. Sometimes it can be hard getting all the Kirbys to safety from enemy attacks, especially after flinging Kirbys around to attack an enemy that moves around a lot. With the game awarding you a ranking for each stage depending on whether if you took any hits, got KOed, or lost any Kirbys, it would certainly be more difficult getting gold on all the stages without patience.

There are also medals that you can collect in most stages, which can be used to unlock special content, like mini-games, the sounds option in most Kirby games, and more. Among them is also the ability to find out what secret "achievements" you can accomplish in the game as well, giving you more challenges to take on, giving the game some additional goals to work towards.

The graphics in Mass Attack isn't too different from the other Kirby games; colorful as always. The sprite animation may not be the most impressive in this game however, especially when you're watching your Kirbys pummeling your enemies with the same, simple animation each time with a couple of variations. Perhaps it was done on purpose however, due to there being 10 Kirbys on screen at most times. They are far from bad however. Just rather... unimpressive.

The sounds are the same for the most part. The music isn't bad, but still unimpressive, at least compared to many of the other Kirby games' BGM. At least Kirby is actually voice acted in this game as opposed to many of the earlier Kirby games where he was silent. Whether if the songs are as memorable as other games' aside, they certainly fit in well with the environment that the stages portray; from a fun, mini-game stage to a dark, spooky mansion. I do wish there were a little more songs included, even if they were remixed versions of old but popular Kirby music like in Canvas Curse, or a little more sound variations in Kirby's actions, since you'll be hearing the same fling and pummeling sounds most of the time.

As for replay value, with all the things that I have already mentioned, the game offers many things to do. From completing the game, collecting all the medals in each stage, getting a gold ranking by not taking any hits whilst completing each stage, and even achievements for specific goals, there are plenty of incentives to replay stages over again. If not for playing the stages over again, I could see myself picking up Mass Attack again just for the mini-games that this game has to offer.

Looking down the list, there is...
  • Field Frenzy, a whack-a-mole mini-game.
  • Kirby Brawl Ball, a pinball game.
  • Kirby Curtain Call, a... counting mini-game... >_>
  • Dash Course, a pretty fun mini-game where you hop down the track by touching the correct shape that Kirby hops to as quickly as you can.
  • Strato Patrol EOS, a shmup (shoot'em up).
  • Kirby Quest, a pseudo-RPG mini-game which is more about timing your button press on a gauge to determine what attack you unleash.
Each of these mini-games, except for maybe Kirby Curtain Call, is a solid mini-game of their own. If they were a smart phone app, they would be some fun games to kill some time with.

Ultimately, the Kirby Mass Attack is a good game that takes good advantage of the multiple Kirby gimmick. Even aside from managing multiple Kirbys, the game offers plenty of other fun gimmicks and mini-games with the level design that it is worth playing through at least once. See if any of your friends have this game, since the game does have 3 save files. If not, why not pick it up and have some nice mini-games to play on your DS?

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