Review by AKwan
"good stage variety, fun to play, worth my while"
Atsumete Kirby is a Japanese version game released on the NDS in August 2011. The English version is called Kirby Mass Attack and will be released tentatively in September.
This game is as much a departure from the standard Kirby platformer formula as Canvas Curse. Instead of controlling a Kirby with the +-key and sucking in enemies and copying their abilities, in this game you control a mob of up to 10 Kirby's using the stylus, and there is no copy. You start with one Kirby, and must increase your numbers by eating fruits to collect fruit points. The game gives you access to 3 or 4 stages at a time, and you need to clear a certain one among them to find the rainbow which brings you into the next set of stages. Rainbow goals are often guarded by mid-bosses, and of course there is a boss stage at the end of each world. Each stage also has a number on it to indicate the minimum number of Kirby's you must have in order to enter; this serves as both a difficulty barrier and a foolproof device, so that you can't mistakenly enter a stage which is too difficult for a squad too small.
The controls are quite good for the most part; the developer has evidently invested some good effort to make this game work. Some players complain that there are some camera issues in some situations, but I don't find that obstructive to the fun. In my opinion, the controls are better than Canvas Curse (and I did put that game down because of control issues). The strongest aspect of this game is its stage variety, as this game is one of the best in this aspect among the many platformers I have played. The game gives you so many different settings, situations, gimmicks, obstacles, and enemies, that I would crown this as the least repetitive platformer of all time. As we know, one major shortcoming of the platforming genre is that the game play can often become repetitive, because you're just doing the same jumping, hacking, and whatever gimmick-of-the-game all the time. And this was my main gripe with the standard Kirby games, because although they have the copy mechanism, the enemies are too easy and trivially beaten with just any copy ability, while as a jumping platformer the game cannot offer any challenge since you can float, so the game quickly feels repetitive due to the copy mechanism being under-utilized. The amazing thing in this game is that, it is offering more variety in game play through its stage variety than a typical Kirby game does through the copy system.
The package also includes six sub-games, which can soon be unlocked by collecting medals found in the main story stages. The sub-games are quite good. In addition, a number of the main game's stages are effectively mini-games. For example, among the sub-games are a full-blown pinball table (complete with rollover lane shift with the flipper buttons, and multiple boss stages) and a full-blown shooting game which could easily be sold as a 500-yen DSiWare game. And then there are a couple of cute little shooting mini-game stages and a pachinko (i.e. pinball with only the plunger and no flippers) mini-game stage, which are at least good for a change.
As I play, I can feel that this is a well-finished game with good game balance. To prevent the task of building up Kirby's numbers from being only a once-per-game task, you start each world with only one Kirby (losing any extras when you move between worlds), so it is a once-per-world task. With a big mob, you can more easily rush enemies, but on the downside, a big crowd is more difficult to rally and makes a bigger target, so it becomes more difficult to avoid damage in some places. A number of traps and enemy attacks are area-of-effect attacks, meaning that it will hurt every Kirby which fails to get out of the way; hence having a large team does not mean that you can afford to play carelessly. If you do lose too many Kirby's in a stage late in a world, the game gives you a melon stage so that you can quickly refill your ranks; and if you are really suffering hard from a certain stage and are getting Game Over's many times in a row, the game gives you invincibility candies to help you deal with it. For longevity, besides having to find medals in each stage, the player can also try to get gold stars by clearing a stage without taking any damage, and can try to meet certain challenge conditions (some of which are indeed quite challenging).
Graphics are good, and I like the music to the extent that I use the sound player for its stated purpose. (i.e. I put on the earphone and listen to the game music when I'm taking a rest.) Overall, I have found this a satisfactory purchase; this game is worth my money and time. For English readers the language barrier is minor, but I would recommend the English version, because it is cheaper, too.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/17/11
Game Release: Atsumete! Kirby (JP, 08/04/11)
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