Sunday, July 2, 2023

Kirby: Mass Attack (Nintendo DS, 2011)


This is the only main series Kirby game that I've never played. So I made it a bit of a personal mission to knock it off and "complete the series", which led to me noticing that we were on the 30th anniversary of me getting Kirby's Dream Land, and deciding to do a post about that, and then deciding to do more posts of some spinoffs, and why not this one too while I'm at it? DS games get very little time on here. Never played this before, don't know what to expect*, and I'm going to beat the game either way. Screenshots are gonna be in all kinds of weird proportions while I figure out what works best.

* - All I know is that it has stylus controls. Which is probably why I skipped it back in the day. DS games can't help themselves with stylus controls. Or as I call them, "Waggle Motion: The Wave of Tomorrow"

...I'm starting to doubt my commitment to Waggle Motion.

Kirby is snoozing in a field, when...

...holy shit! The way he's grasping at Kirby with his groping grabby-hands tells me he's mistaken Kirby for one of Stephanie McMahon's implants. An easy mistake to make, but what he's really looking for is Slalin of Dragon Quest fame. ...which is what I should be playing right now.

What is this guy's problem? Let Kirby take a goddamn nap!

Seriously, why do this? Why go through all of this trouble? Who is this guy? WHAT'S HIS HISTORY WITH KIRBY?

In any case, there's your objective for the game: Form an army out of the ten Kirbies, then defeat Necrodeus. Just be warned, your biggest foe in this game isn't Necrodeus. It's the wonders of Waggle Motion: The Wave of Tomorrow.

Restoring a Kirby is a matter of collecting enough fruit to fill the Fruit Meter, which will conjure up another Kirby. Eventually the idea is to control ten of him at once. Also collect medals I guess, for...reasons. Each stage has five of 'em. I really hope they aren't the gatekeeper of beating the game and are purely optional for collectors.

Switching to just the bottom screen now, since that's where all the action is in this game and we can get a closer view that way. Dragging the stylus around the screen moves this star, which your Kirby Army will always run towards. If you drag the Kirbies themselves, you can chart a course for them to fly around. Flicking them causes them to jump across the screen. Now I think you're supposed to round them up and drag/fly them to where they need to go, but I found it a lot more fun to just flick away at the Kirby Pile and watch them all go flying.

The game has bad guys, and defeating them is a matter of just holding the stylus over them while Kirby basically autobattles them into oblivion. It''s weird.

I'm mainly going after fruit so I can revive the Kirby Army, but I'm keeping a look out for medals too until I find out what they do.

Here's...Whispy Woods, I presume.

Look how they massacred my boy.

In a situation like this, you can just flick away (hee hee) at the Kirbies and bat them into the tree until it falls over, obliterating whatever is on the other side.

Up to 3 Kirbies now, I'll have this game beaten in no time!

The best thing about flicking the Kirbies so they jump: With every flick, you hear a satisfying whip-cracking sound followed by a sultry moan. Well, it's as sultry a moan as you'd expect from a Kirby game anyway. No, I'm not kidding.

If a Kirby gets KO'd, they turn into a ghost and start floating away (think Baby Mario in Yoshi's Island here). Need to get other Kirbies to grab onto them and tap them to bring them back down to life-like form. If they get away, presumably your Kirby Army counter just goes down by one and you have to find a way to restore them.

There are some sound-based switch puzzles in the game that involve whapping your Kirbies into switches in the right order. But more importantly than that, the Kirby Army has finally found a quiet place to have a Kirby Orgy.

Daroach, captain of the Squeaks. I wonder what he thinks about this pile of Kirby. It looks like it's about to form up into one giant Kirby with a small crown.

He's basically the Medal King. Bring him your medals, get prizes. Like expanded sound test tracks and so forth.

All these Dragon Quest references, I need to get back to that series. That's what I should be doing, Dragon Quest VI.

Miniboss, a dastardly mole. The paramount thing in this game is not letting any slain Kirby ghosts fly off the screen. It was too late for this one. IT WAS TOO LATE.

Pretty much all of the bosses in this game are fought by flicking Kirby into them. Flicking upward is a jump, while flicking to the sides is basically a body-crash that does damage, and that's what you need to do. The stylus controls are actually welcome here since you can flick body-crash attacks in pretty much any direction.

Is that Whispy?

NAH, can't be.

Michaelangelo: "Maybe an ancestah!"

Another miniboss. It's got that "centipede that pops out of the floors and ceilings in 3 specific spots" design that I've seen in a lot of games. I had to Flick Kirby into the red portions.

Whispy Woods is the big boss of world 1 and he's actually quite dangerous in this game, dropping lots of spike balls.

Winning was a matter of getting in close and flicking away as fast as possible while quickly getting out of the way of any falling spikes by double-tapping the other side of the screen (which makes everyone rush over there). He took a LOT of hits, and the lack of life meter was conspicuous by its absence. After a while I started wondering if I was actually winning.

World 1 down, and ::checks notes:: 3 worlds to go. This game is much bigger than I thought, and kinda tiring to play due to Waggle Motion.

Warp Star: "Why couldn't it have been WOMEN instead!"

Then they get chased down by Dana Skully of the FBI. She got a report of a UFO and she's here to disprove it.

So basically they grab up all the Kirbies and drag them off to uncertain fates, leaving only one left. I guess the game is gonna reset me down to 1/10 between worlds? That...kind of sucks. Building back up from scratch takes a while, and I was proud of my army. Then again, if you could keep 10/10, I guess you'd be able to beat the game a lot faster since you wouldn't have to worry as much about build-up.

World 2 is the desert, as is tradition.

This is pretty much a lot of the same gameplay, waggle your way through and collect fruit until you get to 10 Kirbies, then try to reach the boss stage. It adds the new element of quicksand, which I can already tell is gonna be a pain in the ass to manage. Unless I just fly everyone over it.

There are a lot of stages in this game (looks like 10-12 per world) but you don't actually have to do all of them. Certain stages jump ahead to later ones, and as far as I can tell, if you know the proper route you can get to the boss of a world in four stages or so. However you also need to have 10 Kirbies to actually fight the boss, and probably won't have that in four stages. So at bare minimum you'd probably need to do about 6 stages even if you know the route. Personally I'm eager to get this thing done so I'm gonna start looking at minimum routes. World 1 took waaaay too long, and I'm just not into Waggle Motion (The Wave of Tomorrow) controls.

When I was a kid, I used to tell other kids that the final boss of Super Mario Bros 3 was a giant penis. I don't know why I told people this. It got me in trouble, of course. "He said the word 'penis'!" screeched one teacher. Yeah, I did, God Forbid! It was totally okay if we ran around pretending to shoot each other with machine guns though.

Anyway this story has nothing to do with this picture, as our heroes battle a weirdly-happy cactus!

This next boss was a total nightmare. It's at the end of a very long stage, and with no mid-stage checkpoints, a loss here means you're doing the whole thing over again. Had to destroy the weird face things on the sides of it until the center weak point became exposed, then attack that, then repeat ad nauseum. Meanwhile it's dropping all these giant spiked balls on your heroes, so get good at furiously tapping the screen to make this VERITABLE HERD of Kirbies move out of the way.


Then we've got this awful mechanic where the screen gets all shadowy so you can't see what's going on for a bit. There's also a stage around this point where you have to bring chicks to a mama bird who lost them, which is very wholesome, except getting hit -once- during this process causes you to lose a chick and start the level over. Then it combines this with the shadowy screen mechanic to make you even worse off!

Boss of world 2 is this Not-Pirahna Plant Plzdon'tsue. The Kirbies smack him with a steel girder until he's defeated, as Mass Attack gets VIOLENT.

The next world is basically Float Islands. Prettiest world, probably the most fun to play overall. The stage designs were good here and less tedious than the others for some reason. Good to finally get some enjoyment out of this thing. Did they really have to scale me back to 1 Kirby after every world though?

World 3 isn't always fun. Like these waterfalls that totally separate the Kirbies and make them fall all over the place, usually into the spiked fish swimming around. DAMMIT!

Waddle Dee, the primary generic foot-soldier of King Dedede's forces, gets an upgrade to miniboss in this game! Good to see Kirby foes get promoted sometimes. This is basically like if Goomba got to be a boss in a Mario game.

Here's a Kirby Pinball minigame, but it can't hold a candle to Kirby's Pinball Land. It's basically just a means to try and collect all the coins/powerups onscreen. Like that rainbow coin in the center, which it turns out you need one of from (almost?) every stage in order to actually reach the last few levels of the game. And I'm just finding this out now, so...

The best powerup in this game is the lollipop, which makes the Kirbies giant and invincible. It's fun to just steamroll everything like this. Unfortunately, there are no weapon-type powerups from absorbing enemies in this game, putting it in the same category as Kirby's Dream Land in that regard. I'd much rather have weapon abilities than have a giant herd of Kirbies to manage.

Another miniboss, this one's new at least. Winning is a matter of flicking Kirbies into the shield until it breaks. Watch out for the ball and chain, though. And by that I mean your wife when she notices you're playing freaking Kirby: Mass Attack in 2023 and wonders what your problem is.

The big world boss of World 3 is King Dedede. Already? That's a surprise. He's got a giant Dedede Balloon and maybe it was partly inspired by Bowser's Duckship in Super Mario World. Who knows.

He goes to the top screen and hurls bombs down, which can be bounced back towards him by launching them upward via Kirby flicks. ...yeah, like the aforementioned Bowser fight.

Do that enough and he leaps out to go full SLEDGEHAMMER. Gotta dodge out of the way and then throw Kirbies at his back. All things considered, this fight was the best fight in the game and a ton of fun to play through. Wish I'd recorded it, but alas nope. Should have been the final boss.

The last world (sort of) unlocks. Again, the game should have ended with World 3, so it's overstaying its welcome here.

World 4 has very little to write home about except a neat volcanic theme in some of the levels. All of the game's annoying elements seem to be ramped up for this one though.

There's a particularly solid PINK TANK~! level where you shoot Kirbies as ammo. My God!

At the end of an extremely long autoscrolling level, the Pink Tank has to fight a series of Scrotum Guns. Where did their hair go??

And if you lose to this thing, it's back to the beginning of the entire autoscrolling level. Doesn't help that the last Scrotum Gun is super tough to beat on a first (or even second) try because it gives you tiny windows to hit it and has a punishing mechanic for missing them.

Then we have this new circle of hell: Purple cloud enemies that warp you back to the beginning of the current hallway if you so much as lightly graze one of them with any of your Kirbies.

This...this might be the thing that finally drove me mad. Kirby: Mass Attack? More like Kirby: ASS Attack!

The last part of World 4 is pretty weird. You have to find a hidden switch in Stage 8 (the bottom "9") to half-unlock Stage 9 (the darkened one I'm on). But you also have to beat Stage 10 (the top "9") to unlock Stage 11, then find a hidden switch in Stage 11 to finish unlocking Stage 9, then beat Stage 9 to reach the boss. I think this was the part where I totally checked out on the game. Let's just take a quick look at the rest so I can get outta here.

The Kirbies find a UFO! ::holds earpiece:: Sorry, UAP.

This thing is used to take out a more evil UAP. Surprisingly, this isn't the world boss. That honor goes to...

...this guy, leader of the skull things that keep robbing me of Kirbies between worlds. He looks like Hugh Morrus.

This guy is the reason WWE lost Kenny Omega.


After World 4 is done, all that's left is a boss rush. It's pretty much identical to the last stage of Kirby's Dream Land in that there isn't very much to it besides the bosses, and you can go through them in any order.

After that, all that's left is the nefarious Necrodeus himself. Guy is basically Giga Gaia, and attacks with groping grabby hands. Get out of their way and flick Kirbies at them, as per usual. Eventually he gets whittled down to just a head and then you keep flicking until there's nothing left. #NeverStopFlicking

After that Kirby gets combined back to his normal self and we're mercifully done. I hate to say this, I really do: This game isn't that enjoyable, the stylus controls are awful every time things get remotely hectic, and locking the final bosses behind a collectible was a terrible choice. A lot of games from the DS era chose to do that for some reason. And a lot of DS era games obviously chose stylus controls. When it comes down to it, it was a perfect storm of not being fun. I'm guessing it was better in-era, and there are probably kids who grew up with this who fondly remember it as a great game.

Final Thought: It's fitting that this was a game about division and trying to bring Kirby back together again. The world was still a pretty divided place in the late 2000's when this was being made. Luckily, by 2011 we were very close to the advent of social media, which promised to finally unite everyone and usher in a new golden age of people getting along. ...Alrighty, I'm outta here.

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