THE 1980s were a great decade for Nintendo. From Super Mario Bros. to Metroid, the publisher consistently released games that were simple and easy to play, yet featured the most brilliant gameplay design anyone had ever seen.
In recent years, Nintendo has become less consistent than they were in the Reagan years—but occasionally, we still see flashes of the company's bygone brilliance. Kirby Mass Attack is the biggest flash in years.
The premise behind Mass Attack is that Kirby has been split into 10 smaller Kirbys by (natch) an evil wizard. You control all 10 of these fluffy, pink simulakirbys simultaneously (or at least, you do once you've collected a full gang), and while that should be incredibly complicated and frustrating, the game pulls it off with aplomb.
Instead of using the standard "A jumps, B attacks" control scheme, Mass Attack is entirely dependent on the touchscreen of the DS. Tap a spot on the screen and all of your Kirbys will immediately head there. Tap a ledge and they leap up to it. Tap an enemy and your squad of fluffballs will rain down a flurry of adorable pain on your foe.
The neat bit is that this group-style gameplay offers players clever, novel, group-style objectives: You might have to task three Kirbys to pull a switch, five to assault a large enemy (whose size guarantees that any fewer number will simply be shaken off), and the other two to sprint to the objective. This core concept opens up a world of clever, light puzzle gameplay that serves as a solid complement to the game's classic-Nintendo-esque platforming.
Admittedly, thanks to the large squad you're leading, the camera can occasionally get a bit wonky, but since the game's graphics are a clean, colorful 2D, it's generally only a momentary issue.
That small qualm aside, Kirby Mass Attack is easily one of the top platformers on the DS. The game's $30 price tag is a bargain.