Kirby’s Mass Attack for DS features ingredients common to great video games, but it just doesn’t manage to get them together.  The title offers vibrant graphics and a classic Nintendo character (Kirby), but that’s where the appeal ends.

I’m a big fan of Nintendo’s long-running Kirby franchise and I’ve played a number of titles in the series.  I even recently reviewed Kirby’s Return To Dreamland, a solid homage to the pink puffball’s platforming roots. I wish I could say that Kirby’s Mass Attack was a solid game, but I can’t.

It’s the control scheme that really holds the title back. Kirby’s Mass Attack is controlled by taping the DS’s touch screen (with a stylus) to move Kirby around. Using your fingers to touch the screen is an option, but it really isn’t accurate enough to pull off some of the game’s more precise moves.

Stylus controlled titles have never matched the precise control capability of traditional buttons, the very same reason I had difficulties with the platforms’ two Zelda titles; Spirit Tracks and Phantom Hourglass. The stylus is simply an awkward way to control a video game and causes my hands to cramp. This isn’t the last time we’ll see this control scheme either. The upcoming 3DS title, Kid Icarus: Uprising, also heavily utilizes the handheld’s stylus.

In Kirby Mass Attack, you move a horde of Kirbys through five different worlds.  If you click on an enemy, the pink fluff balls engulf it in a flurry of attacks. If one of your many Kirby’s gets hit by an enemy, they turn blue.

When they get hit again, they turn into a ghost and you must click on the phantom Kirby to bring him back into your mob. Holding the stylus down on your mob of Kirbys you can float them through the air to a specific location. If you manage to lose all of your Kirbys – this is extremely hard as the game is relatively easy – then you have to restart the level.

In order to multiply your Kirbys, you need to collect fruit by destroying the title’s various enemies and obstacle. The more fruit you obtain, the more Kirbys you will have at your disposal.

The controls may sound simple – because they are – but that doesn’t make them fun or effective. I found it surprisingly difficult to move my Kirbys through the game’s puzzles. Many of the later levels require you to separate your gang of Kirbys and control them on an individual basis. Doing this is nearly impossible with a stylus.

Controlling a game like this with a stylus feels awkward and I constantly found myself wishing I could just use the DS’s buttons to direct my army of little pink balls.

The graphics may be impressive for a DS title, but the controls certainly aren’t.

The game’s graphics are also impressive, especially for a DS title. They’re vibrant, colourful and inviting, although, after playing 3DS games for the last few months, they do seem a little blurry and low resolution. The title’s sound is standard Kirby fair, child-like music and cute high pitched voices and noises, but this is to be expected; Mass Attack is a Kirby title afterall.

I find it hard to get past Mass Attack’s awkward control scheme. Controls are the backbone of every video game and playing a DS game exclusively with a stylus just isn’t enjoyable, especially when featured in a title that requires precision and careful timing. As the DS’s swan song title, Kirby Mass Attack just doesn’t deliver.

The graphics are great and it’s good to see Kirby back in another portable adventure, but I find it really hard to recommend this title to anyone, even hardcore Kirby fans.

More than anything, a games visuals, audio and controls need to create an experience that is fun.  Kirby Mass Attack isn’t fun.

Overall Score: 5/10

Judgment: Avoid


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