Kirby Mass Attack: updated hands-on

Our earlier hands-onof Kirby Mass Attack explained the basic details of its unique approach to platforming – in short, you use the stylus to guide a horde of Kirby clones through cheerfully colored levels – and today we have a fresh look at the game, along with a batch of new images.

The game begins with just one Kirby, controlled entirely with the DS stylus. By flicking, sliding and tapping the screen, you can direct Kirby through the games many levels. This is reminiscent of the excellent Kirby Canvas Curse, which also relied entirely on stylus control. However, Mass Attack revolves around multiple Kirbies, not just one; by eating food sprinkled throughout each level, more and more Kirby duplicates will rain down, up to 10 total. The more you have, the faster you can defeat enemies, spin platforms or activate switches.

It’s a simple premise that evolves in some rather creative ways. For example, when you have a flock of Kirbies following your lead, you can flick two or three to one enemy, another two to a switch, and maybe one more to pick up some food lying around. Conversely, you can tap directly on an enemy to summon your entire armada on one spot, beating the baddie senseless. Think of it as a Kirby/Pikmin crossover, and you’re pretty close.

When you finish a level, you’re punted back to the world map where you choose where to head next. Thing is, each level has a Kirby quota that must be met, so you need to enter that specific area with 5 Kirbies, 7 Kirbies and so on. Eventually you enter the boss battle, which in my case was series regular King DeDeDe (seen above).

I gotta say, Mass Attack gets pretty crazy at times, and this boss battle was a great way to convey how much multitasking is necessary to succeed. DeDeDe tosses bombs from the top screen, which you reflect back by flinging Kirbies in rapid succession. However, there are also baddies tossing bombs into the area, so you have to worry about them (and their large-blast-radius bombs) in addition to DeDeDe. Eventually he drops down to do battle on the bottom screen, and from there you can engage in a number of different approaches – with so many Kirbies at your disposal, there’s no one correct way to finish him off. Keeping all this straight is a real challenge, but in a fun, semi-strategic way, not some taxing, frustrating mess of sprites flying all over the screen

Another level starred this ice dino called “Freezy Rex,” who slowly trudges across the level, forcing the screen to scroll right. It’s like the hundred other auto-scrolling levels you’ve played, but with the added wrinkle of wrangling the Kirby army as the left side of the screen constantly threatens to smash you flat.

So Mass Attack takes elements of Canvas Curse, but does it pull from any other Kirby classics? I’m glad you asked! As with Kirby Super Star, there are several minigames and unlockable extras tucked in, which are unlocked by earning medals in the main game. One on display, a 2D shooter called Strato Patrol EOS, was a thorough 2D shooter starring laser-blasting Kirbies. Even as an unlockable, this one minigame had several levels and a whole new gameplay mechanic – all for free! Other extras won’t be so large, but a handful of the 14 additions will be meaty. Very generous!

Mass Attack launches on September 19, just 10 days after Star Fox 64 3D and the new flame red hardware. Odds are Mass Attack will be among the last notable DS games released, so we’re hopeful it turns out to be a suitable swan song for one of the best gaming devices of all time.

Aug 11, 2011

Brett Elston

A fomer Executive Editor at GamesRadar, Brett also contributed content to many other Future gaming publications including Nintendo Power, PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine. Brett has worked at Capcom in several senior roles, is an experienced podcaster, and now works as a Senior Manager of Content Communications at PlayStation SIE.