|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco Bandai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan.27, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: E +10||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Nintendo fans the world over have been enamored with Kirby for years. This little pink copycat somehow found a way into our super-hard gamer hearts. Kirby Squeak Squad further cements Kirby's place as one of the cutest and most entertaining series in Nintendo history.
The game begins with Kirby taking a nap. He wakes up feeling refreshed and is ready for his daily snack, Strawberry Shortcake. Just as he's about to dig in however, the precious snack is stolen! This is where our adventure begins. You lead Kirby though a few preliminary levels and find that it is the villainous "Squeak Squad" that is responsible for the thievery. They are also responsible for stealing several other treasure chests. Your goal is simple: find treasure, defeat the Squeaks, and get back your snack!
However, this is easier said than done. Although the first few levels seem mild and un-intimidating, the game's learning curve ramps up pretty fast. Individual levels become more dungeon-like, requiring more and more attention to detail and strategic use of the copy ability. Bosses begin to require thoughtful strategies and the timed use of selected power ups and copy-abilities. But rest assured, the cuteness remains the same throughout the entire game.
Controls are straight forward and make use of the control pad for movement and the DS buttons for attacks, flying, and inhaling your opponents. All of the action occurs on the top screen, and the stylus is only used to select power-ups and copy abilities from the touch screen. Some special copy abilities are a little difficult to execute and take a little while to master, but these abilities are generally relegated to the later levels of the game.
On the whole, the gameplay is challenging and definitely makes use of the player's ability to think and strategize out of the bubble. Some levels later on in the game can take quite a while to get through, and the game can be frustrating at times. But that's a hallmark of a good game. The fact that it challenges the player enough to warrant a pause in gameplay to stop and think tells me that this one's a keeper.
Not to mention the hundreds of unlockables. In every level there are 1-3 treasure chests that you must acquire by the end of the level, either by finding them in a hidden area or seizing them from a Squeak. At the end of each level, you find out what each chest held-which is conveniently something from you. These can range from spray paint colors for Kirby to playable songs from the different levels to pieces of heart that increase your life bar (Zelda, anyone?).
However, that's not to say that the game is not without its faults. The fault lies in the form of a lackluster and largely forgettable multiplayer mini-game mode. There are 3 three minigames (and a mystery mini-game that can be unlocked), and none of these are particularly fun or interesting. These can be played single cart with up to three other people.
As far as graphics go, Kirby is brilliant. Fluid animations and cutscenes look beautiful. Textured 3-D environments are easy to navigate and facilitate a good amount of interactivity with the environment. In-game animations are executed perfectly and just plain look great.
The sound is also excellent. Each level features its own soundtrack, and sound effects are useful, not to mention cute. Each song can also be unlocked and replayed if the treasure chest with that song is found. Some tunes are wholly forgettable, but don't be surprised if you have the sound from level X-X circling in your head and just have to listen again. I know it happened to me a couple of times.
Overall, I cannot recommend this game enough. It's the most fun game experience I've had on the Nintendo DS since the New Super Mario came out. I would even say that this game is a little bit more fun than the latter simply for its unique gameplay and ultra-cool copy abilities. Of course, this title won't appeal to everyone initially (I mean, it does occasionally overdose on the sugar-coated cuteness, which may not appeal to some male gamers), but if you give it a chance, you'll enjoy it. Even if your favorite games are Resistance: Fall of Man and Gears of War, you'll enjoy this game. I know I did.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer