Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Kirby Squeak Squad (DS)

Kirby, Nintendos other character makes his second appearance on the DS. Unlike Power Paintbrush this Kirby title returns to the classic platform style games of the retro era with the second screen used as a display for Kirbys items. The story (and we use the term loosely) centres on a nice piece of strawberry shortcake. Kirby sits down enjoy this delight and before he can, it is snatched away by a group of thieving rodents named the Squeak Squad. There is only one thing to do and off Kirby goes across eight worlds to get his cake back.

Previous Kirby releases have never been the most challenging of titles and this one is no exception. As always the joy of a Kirby game comes from the inventive level design and the amount of different skills he can learn throughout the adventure. Through inhaling and then swallowing enemy creatures, Kirby can use different skills. When the enemy drops down to the bottom screen (Kirbys stomach), Kirby will extract whatever skill the enemy possessed. Thankfully any skills or food located throughout the levels (stored in bubbles) can be swallowed and stored for use later in the game. In order to activate the bubbles you have to hit them on the touch screen, which can be awkward amidst a tricky section or boss battle.

As well as the standard task of finding the exit to each level Kirby also has to collect the numerous treasure chests that are hidden throughout the lands. These chests harbour variety in the form of pieces of pictures, secret level keys and spray cans to change Kirbys colour. The chests come in two sizes; small ones just need to be swallowed and carried to the end of the level, while the larger chests initiate a chase sequence where one of the squeak squad will attempt to steal the chest before Kirby can make it to the exit. Should the rodents be successful, the chest is then placed in their hide out where our hero must infiltrate and overcome a mini boss encounter to get it back.

In total there are one hundred and twenty chests, with some of them requiring a fair amount of thought and use of various abilities to reach. The locating of the chests forms an entertaining part of the game, and if any are left after completion it is highly likely you will find yourself returning to find them. Upon collecting all the chests and completing the game two new modes are added. The boss rush mode has Kirby facing off against all eight bosses in a row on one life bar. The second mode is a timed mode that lets you play through the game again with the aim of collecting all the chests as quickly  as possible. Neither is a major addition but both are nice extras none the less.

The various worlds in the game look gorgeous, with each having a unique look. The style of the levels also ties in with the different skills you can use. For instance in the jungle, leaves can be cut down with the sword skill and in the levels filled with lava, platforms can be made by breathing ice onto it and thereby turning it into rock. It is these inventive touches that keep an otherwise familiar game fun and enjoyable from start to finish.

Overall Kirby Squeak Squad is undoubtedly a fun game. Anyone who has played a Kirby title before will not find anything particularly new here but everything is done in a very inventive and fun way. The main game will not put up too much of a challenge for most people but the sheer amount of things to find and skills to use, helps keep things fresh. It may not do anything overly ground breaking but it is hard to see anyone not having a good time with Kirby Squeak Squad and for that we can only commend it.

7/10

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