Kirby, Kirby, Kirby Doo Wah!
In keeping with tradition, Mass Attack offers a lighthearted premise that gives the player enough impetus to set out on an adventure without boring you with unnecessary story. Kirby has been split into mini Kirbys, and you recruit your mini counterparts by…eating fruit. There are 10 mini Kirbys in all, and you'll use them in concert to negotiate a hefty collection of wonderfully designed levels.
Controlling your many Kirbys is actually very easy and fun. The formula is a great compromise for the DS. Your role is basically that of a star that guides the Kirbys. By holding the stylus in front of the Kirbys, they move toward the star; tapping on enemies commands the Kirbys to attack; flicking the stylus over the Kirbys makes them jump; and moving the star over the Kirbys allows you to carry them over a limited distance. You can also make the Kirbys run by double-tapping the screen.
The enemy and level designs are matched really well with the controls, and the action is both cute and entertaining. It's no surprise there's little challenge to complete most levels, but acquiring all of the coins in a level is another story. After the first world, however, the level of difficulty starts to ramp up a bit.
Collecting coins unlocks extras, and man, HAL (the game's developer) hasn't skimped at all in that regard. The pinball game, alone, is almost worth the price of admission, and it's merely one unlockable out of a huge selection of stuff you'll discover by nabbing level coins. There's also five pages worth of achievements. Kirby Mass Attack is a massive package with very little filler.
One particularly notable unlockable is a shmup mini-game called Strato Patrol EOS. This almost feels like its own game. It offers six sizeable and interesting stages, each of which has its own end boss. You control your Kirbys with the stylus, they auto-fire, and you can execute bombs with the shoulder buttons. It's challenging, very cool to look at, and a whole lot of fun. Bottom line: Mass Attack offers a ton of value.
And like almost every other Kirby game I can remember, it's also quite beautiful. The hand-drawn sprites are adorable, animate fluidly, and the backgrounds are fun and varied. The music and sound effects are absolutely amazing, and being able to unlock tunes in the extras section is another of the series' staples I appreciate greatly.
If you're in love with Kirby and the cuteness that defines his universe, you won't be disappointed by Mass Attack. You might find yourself occasionally frustrated by minor control compromises, but the fun factor here never loses momentum. Kirby's made a surprising number of appearances on the original DS platform, but I assure you, he's saved the best for last.