Game Review

Kirby Mass Attack Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Liam Doolan

Safety in numbers

Known in Japan as Atsumete! Kirby, Kirby Mass Attack is the final title in the long-running HAL Laboratory series for the Nintendo DS. Originally released in 2011, Mass Attack moves away from traditional platform game design in preference of a completely touch-driven experience. Thankfully, unlike the original 2005 entry for DS – Kirby: Power Paintbrush – the gameplay has evolved beyond the sole novelty of touch controls by incorporating an exciting mechanic that adds plenty of layers of depth to the overall experience, and creates a side-scrolling adventure like no other.

Mass Attack begins in a similar fashion to past Kirby games with peace being disrupted by evil forces. Kirby is having a nap in a field on the Popopo Islands south of Popstar when out of nowhere the wicked leader of the Skull Gang – Necrodeus – appears from the sky to smother the world into darkness. Kirby is unfortunately on the receiving end of his magical staff and is split into ten copies of himself, which are all defeated but one. The last Kirby spots a star – which happens to be his heart (in reality the stylus for the touch screen) - and from there he follows it in hope of defeating Necrodeus and restoring both himself and the land back to normal.

This story adds much needed context as to why you as the player take control of up to ten Kirby characters over the course of the game. Expanding upon this idea, Mass Attack draws inspiration from Shigeru Miyamoto's Pikmin to add extra layers of depth to what otherwise would be just another platform game. It achieves this by requiring the player to take down certain enemies and solve puzzles with a specific number of Kirby clones, for example. To meet the required number of pink puffs, the player must collect fruit such as apples, bananas and even Maxim Tomato throughout each of the levels and fill a meter on the top screen to make more duplicates appear.

Much like the original Nintendo DS outing – Power Paintbrush – the player controls Kirby with touch input, on the lower screen, rather than a traditional button input method. With ten Kirbys on-screen, stylus commands like swiping, tapping, sliding and flicking can lead to both satisfying and frustrating moments – all depending on how the action plays out and how well the player is able to micro-manage the party.

Each of the levels in Mass Attack takes a considerable and often sluggish amount of time to complete, with the player travelling from start to finish defeating enemies and taking on bosses along the way. Some of these levels are from one end to another, while others include gaps, ledges, hidden doors and underwater sections to traverse. To access levels in Mass Attack the player is required to have the necessary amount of Kirbys; if you do not have the required number you must come back at a later date. Adding to this, many levels throughout the game include sections that only a certain amount of Kirbys can gain access to, which makes revisiting levels enticing to collect previously untouchable rewards. These levels also include a ranking system, providing additional replay value.

The method to take down enemies in Mass Attack is at times very reminiscent of the Pikmin series – with the player encouraged to flick however many characters they have at the enemy. During these encounters some Kirbys may turn blue, meaning they are close to being knocked out and turned into a ghost that floats away – which can also be prevented by throwing Kirby at the grey spirit. Alternatively, Kirbys which are low on health can be thrown through special recovery gates to replenish their health.

The level style and battle system goes well with the occasional segments that require thought. While fighting enemies, the collective mass of Kirbys may be required to jump on levers, push blocks against the force of enemies, destroy blocks and hang from weeds to activate switches. This often requires the player to divide the Kirbys into smaller teams to help perform multiple tasks. For example, one group fighting off an enemy, so the other team can activate a switch. It is these types of scenarios that are once again reflective of the gameplay featured in the Pikmin series and are at times a rather impressive feat for a portable title.

These encounters often result in the discovery of keys to unlock treasure chests and medals to gain access to sub-games and other features. There are even sporadic encounters with the Skull Gang, and giant Jumbo Candy in certain levels which temporarily increases the size of the entire Kirby party – allowing them to destroy everything in their path. The collectible medals are vital for accessing unlocks, which include minigames like a whack-a-mole style game and a soundtrack play test section. There is also an awards section – acting as an achievement system – and is assigned to Kirby and the player by the leader of the space-faring pirates, Daroach. You can also visit Daroach's Airship for plenty of helpful hints.

This is all bundled with sound and visuals that are true to the Kirby series. The music is upbeat and outgoing, and Kirbys and enemies all make appropriate squeaks that sound right at home. Despite the unique direction of Mass Attack in terms of gameplay, the visuals take a noticeably traditional path – with character models and environments paying respect to more classic entries in the Kirby line.


Kirby Mass Attack offers a unique take on the Kirby series with the ability to command up to ten pink puff balls at a time. If you're interested in a downsized and linear title that takes inspiration from the likes of Pikmin, Mass Attack is one to consider. In terms of Kirby's DS adventures, this probably isn't his grandest outing, but it certainly evolved with the times and understood at the time of release that it took more than just the exclusivity of touch controls to provide an appealing game experience on the portable system. It's definitely a standout as an experimental entry in the Kirby franchise that has aged well, but more traditional Kirby outings still reign supreme.

From the web

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Just in case you get fed up of the main story in Kirby: Mass Attack, Nintendo's got a load of minigames to keep you interested. Here's some o

User Comments (40)



Socar said:

This is my least favorite Kirby game....simply because I can't 100% the game! I Also, the game feels very frustrating responding to various other kirby's fast.



Spin said:

I couldn't really get into it when I first played it. I love the sprite work in it. That said, a lot of the tasks you had to complete were very tedious and repetitive. Maybe there was some sort of skill I was lacking that made completing the tasks faster, but I couldn't really find out what it was.



NintyMan said:

I didn't like how the levels dragged on sometimes, but it was fine.

The best part about this game was the selection of minigames. Seriously, the game is worth it for them alone! HAL knows how to deliver fanservice.



Dave24 said:

@Spin no, it were the sometimes unresponsive kirbys (kirbis?) and controls.

Mini-games were fun in this one, but other than the first world, it started getting tedious fast.



Stu13 said:

This game is completely bonkers. The tedium that others spoke of never set in for me thanks to the novelty of controlling 10 FRIGGIN' KIRBYS AT ONCE.



maukenboost said:

Wow, I guess people don't like this game much down here in the comments. I for one enjoy this game although I do not normally enjoy touch screen games. The sound Kirby makes when entering a level is the most adorable thing I have ever heard and this game just gushes with adorableness. I love watching the tiny Kirbys pound away on the enemies and flying through the air to save their lifeless other selves. I still need to beat this game. I bought this game a couple of years ago and I do not regret it.



rjejr said:

Bought this for my kid at release. I'm pretty sure he got stuck and never went back. I'll have to ask him later.

I guess $10 DS downloads means we're never getting a DS Player for Wii U.



Olmectron said:

I loved this game! I couldn't stop playing it until I 100%'d it. It's really funny from start to end, and even funnier in the later levels! It's great to search for the hidden medals, too.

I've played every single Kirby game to date. There are some spin-offs that I haven't really liked (Power Paintbrush, anyone?), but this is the best of them. I even considered it a main series Kirby due to the fact of it having so many levels with great diversity of environments and puzzles!

Buy it if you don't have the DS card! It's worth those $10



MoonKnight7 said:

Wow, I guess I'm in the minority here, but I loved this game. It was so fun flicking 10 Kirbys around.



khaosklub said:

Loved the game, but the camera is terrible and the kirbys sometimes will just do whatever they want. When faced with an edge of the screen with danger just over it, you have to put your kirbys in harm's way to get the camera to move.

Klunky and unresponsive at times, but still a lot of fun. Canvas curse was just as good if not better, with slicker controls.

Both could easily be smart phone games. I don't see how this gets a 7 and canvas curse gets a measly 5!



khaosklub said:

I managed to 100 percent it, but man, that boss rush level was intense! Super surprised that I managed to scrape by with a gold medal!



Nashew said:

I love this game. Probably the hardest Kirby game to 100%, and I did it!



wazlon said:

I've got this but didn't get round to playing it. Think I might give it a try.



Kevlar44 said:

It came out 4 years ago and the reviewer is talking about how it's "aged", weird. It's still relatively new.



BearClaus said:

In terms of Kirby's DS adventures, this probably isn't his grandest outing

I disagree. Kirby Super Star Ultra does come close, but it feels like the anthology it is rather than a great big Kirby adventure.

As for the game itself, it's great! The variety and ideas in the level design are so cool and the soundtrack, while of pretty low sound quality, does an outstanding job setting the tone. The Kirby Air Ride songs were the best ones.



MasterWario said:

I still have the DS version. It was a hilarious little game but I ran out of steam after a bit. Will beat it one day though.



Nintendo_Ninja said:

Really good game that I think people overlooked since it released towards the end of the DS era. It is fresh from a gameplay perspective, it had good music, and the unlocksbles were great.



Henmii said:

7?! You mean 8 or 9! This is a fantastic game, that makes great use of the touchscreen. A must for everyone who hasn't played it already!



RetroRider said:

@NintyMan Exactly, the minigames were my favorite part as well.

As for the gameplay, it gets pretty repetitive, and doesn't try too hard to do new stuff other than like a hot air balloon ride (from what I've played so far). I like the game, I just have had trouble getting into it. Got it in October brand new for $12 and have since then put it away in my drawer.

Also it's funny how the score of this game has dropped from a 9/10 to a 7. I've noticed this score-lowering with the other rereleases of DS titles on Wii U. Should have had them released on the 3DS eshop like the did with Wii games on Wii U.



Squashy said:

@Kevlar44 Yeah I thought that was odd too.

I've never played this but I remember really liking the look of this and Kirby's Adventure Wii when they came out and I still feel the same way now. Lovely graphics too.



Luffymcduck said:

Fun game but I never 100 % completed it because not getting hit at all while controlling 10 Kirbys was frustrating.



DekuOnion said:

Wasn't this the last 1st party Nintendo game on the NDS as well? I thought the game looked pretty cool, but I never got around to playing it.



chewytapeworm said:

This is easily the best Kirby game I have played. Sure the levels can drag occasionally, especially when replaying them, but the core concept is so equally fun and adorable it's difficult not to be taken in by it.



ricklongo said:

I meant to get it for my old DS back when it was released, but never got around to. Touch-exclusive games have become sort of a pet peeve of mine since, so I'm not really sure I'll ever feel like spending cash on this.



WhiteTrashGuy said:

I bought this for my daughter and played it just as much as she did. So much fun, and the minigames were great diversions as well.



Fandabidozi said:

I've always wanted to play this and never got round to it yet. The screenshots always look gorgeous. So cute!!



Dpishere said:

I enjoyed the demo but I just never got around to playing it or most the other games in the series either for that matter. Maybe this could be my chance but I would prefer a DS copy so it would feel more natural to play.



Morpheel said:

I loved the minigames, the main game itself was a bit too much for me though.



Nintendian said:

This is my favourite Kirby game, it's Pikmin + Locoroco, what's not to love? Cuteness overload perhaps. Just the music when you start the game makes you smile. It's a great departure from the usual Kirby game where you suck and transformed. This game is a creative demonstration of how to use the touchscreen, smartphone game developers should learn something from it. I think this game will work really well on a smartphone if only Nintendo will port them...



TheDavyStar said:

This game looks really interesting. I remember seeing it and liking the look of it back in 2011, so maybe I'll give it a go some time.



ShadJV said:

I loved this entry when it came out but as mentioned the minigames in this title are phenomenal, really have some depth too - pinball, an RPG, they're literally mini GAMES!!!



pariah164 said:

I love this game. Aside from the main game, there are TONS of mini-games that are just as fun as the main story. So much hate in the comments for it, but I loved it. One of my top 10 DS games for sure.

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