Ten times the Kirbys, ten times the cuteness, ten times the fun

User Rating: 9 | Atsumete! Kirby DS
It is possible to say that, on this last gaming generation, the Kirby franchise has experienced a significant rebirth. Before the Nintendo DS came around, Kirby was an afterthought for many players, which is no surprise when you consider that after Kirby Super Star the quality of the franchise went through a significant drop, as the character and his world lost their charm and appeal: Kirby had become the star of bland platformers and broken racing games. Kirby Canvas Curse, and its touch-only gameplay, was where it all began, and since then the games of the pink marshmallow ball transformed into some sort of wacky laboratory where Nintendo experimented outlandish concepts that could only have been created, and made extremely fun, by Nintendo's delightful and straightforward approach to game design. Canvas Curse opened the floodgates for a new beginning for the character, Epic Yarn followed suit and now Mass Attack strips Kirby of his signature power once more, and builds an adventure where Kirby could have been easily replaced by another character, but then it would not be half as cute or funny.

As of late, Kirby has had one weird knack for attracting evil sorcerers who want to destroy his life in one way or another, something that is hard to believe since when somebody spots the little pink dude chances are you want to hug him, instead of bestowing an evil spell upon him. But as these evil wizards seem to accidentally trigger great gameplay mechanics with their curses, it is hard to complain. And that is what happens when one day, strolling around, Kirby is hit with a wizardry that breaks him apart into ten smaller versions of himself, nine of which are promptly killed by the wizard Necrodeus. Knowing that he cannot do much by himself, the lone tiny puffball sets out to venture through Popstar, recover his fallen versions to hopefully have enough power to beat down the wizard as an army of ten. And that is when the simple platforming of Kirby games meets Pikmin gameplay.

Everything in the game is done via the touch controls. Touch a spot on the screen and your army of Kirbys will readily move in that direction, tap an enemy and they will mount an attack and touch one of your pink soldiers and do a quick sliding motion to fling him into a higher ledge or into a wall that needs to be broken. And that is pretty much all there is to it, it couldn't have possibly been simpler, more intuitive and – consequently – more exciting to play. At the beginning of each world your Kirby army will only have one member, and in order to make it grow to up to ten characters players will have to eat as many fruits as possible, for each 100 points one new Kirby will spring to life. At first, all Kirbys will be pink-colored, but when hit by an enemy or harmed by one of the stages' traps, they will turn blue; with one more hit, they will die and become angels that slowly fly to heaven, giving players time to bring them back to life before they soar out of the screen.

Managing an army solely with touch controls can seem a little bit on the tough side when you think about the concept, but Kirby Mass Attack takes things slowly enough for less-skilled players to get the hang of it naturally. The game is very easy throughout its first world, so easy that a lot of screen-mashing can get you through it without any big problems. However, by the time the second world is reached things start picking up really fast as enemies create defenses that will require a lot of attention from players as to when to execute their attacks, and the stages get a lot harder occasionally featuring situations that if players are not fast enough, they will lose their entire squad and have to start again from the beginning of the stage. What is most surprising about Kirby Mass Attack is that it is probably the hardest Kirby game ever, it doesn't get close to being frustrating, but there is some genuine challenge in here.

Featuring nearly 45 stages total, Kirby Mass Attack takes some big liberties and explores many different platforming scenarios, some of which are traditional such as quicksand-ridden levels, platforms that move up or down on pits full of enemies, swimming sections, and some stages with automatic scrolling; at the same time it features puzzles and situations that were only made possible bu the amount of characters that appear simultaneously on the screen. Even when the game takes a more traditional platforming path, it manages to be unconventional due to its very unique gameplay, and during the ten or so playing hours that it has to offer, gamers will experience a little bit of everything and occasionally be surprised with the puzzles and clever situations the developers were able to come up with. It is an interesting bland of traditions and breaking new ground, and one that makes the game what it is.

After going through five worlds, deserts, forests, icy plains, volcanoes, beaches, cemeteries, creative bosses and mini-bosses, players who fall in love with Kirby Mass Attack – a number that will certainly be huge – will be happy to find out that the fun does not stop there. As it happens with other Kirby games, this one has a lot of extra content, and by a lot you should understand, more than ever. All stages have a set number of hidden medals to locate, some of which are easy to spot and others that will have you replaying the stage many times to locate; besides, there is a good number of tough achievements, high scores and addictive mini-games where some will spend more than a few hours trying to beat their best record or simply having fun.

Saying that a Kirby game is cute is like raving about how wet water is, it goes without saying, but that is truly the best adjective to describe the game's presentation. It goes beyond the colorful cheerful graphics, which take a surprisingly darker turn in some stages; or the cheery songs that accompany the little pink army through its adventure. If one Kirby facing enemies, being hit, getting into complicated situations and making faces and expressions is already rather entertaining, it is only possible to imagine how hilarious and heart-lifting it is to watch 10 Kirbys being shaken off by an enemy only to fall dizzy to the ground, or witnessing as a water vortex sucks desperate pink creatures into doom, the game finds a whole new extreme point between cute and funny, one that is present during the whole game and will melt the heart of everybody, regardless of gender, age or social status. Kirby has never been more adorable.

It is impossible not to recommend Kirby Mass Attack for everybody who likes simple platforming. It has a great difficulty curve, a whole lot of creativity, cuteness, extras, challenge, humor and much more all packed into one tiny cartridge. It is a game that will leave players wanting more, even after the 15 to 20 hours it is possible to spend with this game when one is looking for all its secrets. We just have to wait until the next evil wizard comes up and does something so evil to Kirby he will hop away in cuteness to try to get out of that tough situation and we will be treated to a new amusing gameplay mechanic.