E3 2011: Kirby Mass Attack Preview

If you thought one Kirby was just too cute, imagine a whole cluster of them.

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While waiting in the massive Nintendo booth line during the Electronic Entertainment Expo to see the newly announced Wii U, we had an opportunity to play a Japanese version of Kirby Mass Attack on the DS. Set to come out in September of this year, it's described by Nintendo as being a "side-scrolling real-time strategy" game. On the surface it looks like a platformer, but instead of running and jumping, you are using the stylus to guide your troop of puffballs to safety.

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The story is quite simple: Some evil person has split Kirby into 10 pieces, and now he must go on a quest to regain his original form. Having to feed 10 mouths would likely be a challenge, but in Kirby Mass Attack we weren't able to use his signature "inhale everything that crosses our path" talent. Instead, we either tapped on enemies to send a flurry of Kirbys to pounce on an enemy, or we swiped madly across the touch screen to launch deadly Kirby projectiles into waddle dees. Either way worked, although some of the bigger foes required a specific tactic.

Your cursor is indicated by a star on the touch screen, and the happy-go-lucky Kirby mob will follow your guide faithfully. If you need to move them to a higher platform, simply hold the stylus down on the touch screen until they're all highlighted in blue, and then you can trace a path for them to go. You'll eventually run out of ink, and the bubble that you've drawn won't last forever, but it's a handy way to move to different levels as well as keep the group together.

If you happen to get hurt, some unfortunate Kirbys will turn blue and still follow you like a ghost Kirby. You can revive these guys by using the stylus to launch them through a pink ring that is located in certain parts of a level. As we moved through the early stages, we spent a good amount of time either flinging the poor guys into breakable blocks or tapping on the vines of plants to pull them down so we could collect fruit. It was straightforward enough for us to at least get through a couple of levels and not understand a word of what was going on, but Nintendo has stated that there will be minigames that unlock as you progress through the game.

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We'll have more information as soon as it becomes available. Keep an eye out for this fluffy army when Kirby Mass Attack comes out on September 19.

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