Kirby?Squeak Squad, the?newest addition to the Kirby series, is now available for the Nintendo DS. How much has the game play changed over time, and is it worth your money??
One game series that always seems to tickle me pink (no pun intended) is the Kirby line. With simplistic controls, cute characters, and loads of power-ups, it’s easy to see why the pink puff ball is still going strong today. One of the newer titles for the DS has our inflatable hero on the path of revenge! That is to say, to find out who stole Kirby’s strawberry cake. While the plot isn’t necessarily story driven, it’s a cute premise and is suitable reason enough to go on an adventure, right??
Enter: The?Squeak Squad, a band of thievous rodents who, like rats are won’t to do, pack away all sorts of treasures for themselves (Kirby’s mid day snack being one of them). Throughout each level, Kirby has the chance to locate treasure chests which contain a myriad of different items; from power ups, to healing items,?and other bonuses like Kirby color swaps and collectables. Each level contains usually one or two “little” treasure chests (which are optional to pick up, only necessary if you want 100% completion) and? one “big” treasure chest. Picking up the big treasure chest alerts a member of the Squeak Squad, who will try to steal the treasure away from you. Battling them isn’t too difficult, and if you don’t want to lie down in fisticuffs, you can always run past them to the end of the level.?
Each level is pretty simplistic, though some of which require certain power-ups to get through. There are roughly 5-6 levels in a world, with an end boss to contend with before moving? on to the next world. For completionists, the world map lets you know if you snagged all the secrets in that level, and some of them can be a little tricky to find. It almost becomes like an obsession to hunt down all the treasure in each stage! Boss fights are pretty straight forward, and don’t require a whole lot of skill to defeat. Often times, if you have certain power-ups, you can beat the bosses in seconds.?
In this rendition, Kirby is able to store up to five power-ups, including copied abilities, health items, and treasures. All of these items are stored in the touch screen, and using the stylus or a finger, you can even mix items together! Mixing two power-ups will give you a? random, new power-up, while mixing health items will yield a more potent healing item. Though, it would have been a lot more interesting if you could create completely new power-ups instead of just getting a random new one. Unfortunately, like with a lot of DS games, this feature just feels “gimmicky” and doesn’t really add any depth to the game play. It’s usually more frustrating to use the touch screen in this fashion, because usually you’ll have to stop moving completely to manage your inventory. If you need something from your inventory on the fly, like during a boss battle, you’ll have to be quick on the draw.?
Controls are pretty tight for this plat former, and not much has changed. Kirby can still float, puff out air, swim, and slide, as well as use a plethora of copied enemy abilities. Generally, if you get knocked out during a stage, it’s your own fault, and not the cause of loose or sloppy controls.?
One neat thing about Squeak Squad is the ability to “level up” your abilities. By finding ability scrolls located in (you guessed it!) the numerous treasure chests, you can improve upon Kirby’s copied abilities. From adding extra power to your Beam attack, or adding completely new moves to existing attacks (the spark attack for example, lets you build up static for extra power), it’s neat to see the changes in the moves we’ve seen since the NES days. Pressing the Start button will give you a display on what moves are available to you with the copied ability you have at the moment, some of them are so vague on the description on how to use them that you’re almost better off without them! For example, it took me a long while to figure out how to build static with the Spark ability and use it to fire off a giant blast of electricity, when the description of how to do the move was just arrows pointing around Kirby. Besides just a few cryptic move descriptions, each ability generally has multiple uses, so you’ll never get bored. With over 25 abilities to copy, there’s always the right tool for the job!?
Playing the game through shouldn’t take you more than a few hours, even going for all the secrets. Any way you slice it, the game is easy, and tearing through the levels is a breeze. But sometimes it’s enjoyable to have a refreshing break from the grind fests that a lot of games have become. Multiplayer is limited to mini-games, which really aren’t anything worth mentioning. This game could have doubled its replay value by adding a co-op mode (even ad hoc would’ve sufficed). I could only begin to tell you how much fun I had playing Kirby Superstar with my sister when we were kids on SNES. Instead of?the half-effort multiplayer attempt, they would have been better off just leaving it out.?
Graphically, the game is wonderful. Bright, vivid colors, cute character models, everything just pops with crisp design. Nothing about this game looks bad, and Kirby still reigns supreme as one of the most adorable gaming mascots ever.?
All in all though, Kirby Squeak Squad is just your basic plat forming title. The easy nature of the game and cutesy graphics are obviously geared for children, but being a long-time Kirby fan, I just couldn’t pass it up. Though it doesn’t?offer anything?new to?the table, it certainly does stick to its roots, and there’s no substitute for classic game play.?If you’re into nostalgia, go ahead and get it. If you like your games with some balls,?you won’t mind?passing it up.?