Kirby Squeak Squad (NDS) – Review

Kirby Squeak Squad - CoverWhile the previous Kirby game for the DS was an excellent outing for the system, it did vary significantly from its predecessors in the gameplay style, relying more on the stylus than a standard platforming system. On the other hand, the latest reinvention of Kirby for the DS, Kirby Squeak Squad, produced by HAL Laboratories and distributed by Nintendo, is a return to a standard 2D platformer with a few tricks added in to use the DS touch screen effectively. While the game is very true to it’s roots, it unfortunately lacks a challenge for most experienced gamers and may be over with before the fun really sets in.

Story: C+

The story is typically simple for a Kirby game – in this case, Kirby is about to sit down to enjoy a cake slice stored in a treasure chest when suddenly the Squeak Squad, lead by three mice with their coherts, steal the chest away. Kirby, upset over the lost cake, chases after them, stopped the ne’er-do-wells before they make off with his dessert.

Gampleay: B+

The gameplay in Kirby Squeak Squad is back to it’s platformer roots rather than the type found in Canvas Curse. The bulk of the gameplay takes place on the top screen using the standard controls to move Kirby about. As per the usual Kirby game, he can run, jump and float around, as well as suck in enemies, after which he can copy their powers with a total of about 18 different abilities. These powers allow Kirby to gain strong attacks or to reach parts of a level that otherwise couldn’t be reached. However, on the DS, Kirby gains the use of a in-game inventory that can store up to 5 items on the bottom screen. Some of these are powers-in-a-bubble, located about the various levels or generated by one specific power; tapping them immediately gives Kirby that power. There’s also small items that you can find and combine 3 of them into a powerful star bullet Kirby can shoot out or to gain an extra man. It’s also possible to combine 2 power bubbles in the same way to create, generally, a rarer, more powerful copy power bubble to be used later.

Kirby Squeak Squad - GameplayThe other item that you can store in the inventory is what makes up the crux of the concept of the game. Throughout all the levels are small and large treasure chests. Small ones usually require thinking ahead to collecting the chest, usually by making sure you have the right power or avoid activation of a button or switch until the chest is collected. Large chests are generally found in the open, but then one of the 3 Squeak Squad members with their posse will show up, and collecting the chest either becomes a chase to avoid being hit by a Squad member while carrying the chest, racing to face the Squad member that has grabbed the chest before you, or a race between you and Squad member to the chest. Even if you lose the chest initially, all it not lost; the Squad member will try to get to a cave entrance on the level that remains open for a few seconds and if you can get into the cave, you can then fight the Squad member and his friends there to recover the treasure chest. Of course, for both chests, you need to have space in your inventory to carry, so you may have to dump some of the extra powers in order to carry it. Any chest that makes it to the end of the level grants you special unlockables or in a few select cases, secret keys to unlock an extra level. If you fail to get the large chest the first time you see it on a level, it’s lost forever, or at least until the next time that you attempt that level. There’s a total of 120 chests throughout the game levels, and once you’ve cleared a level, you can go back to try to collect any chests that you may have been missing or to fill up your inventory with useful items (levels where you have successfully cleared out all available chests are marked as such, so you know not to go searching for secrets that may not even be there).

There’s also a handful of bosses for each world (8 total in the main story but an additional one is unlockable), as well as mini-bosses at times, and usually have a power that you want to have heading into the next immediate section.

Unfortunately, the game itself is extremely simple, with the only large challenge being collecting some of the treasure chests on the last couple of worlds as well as the last couple of bosses. Defeating all the common foes, the mini-bosses, and the Squeak Squad members is a piece of cake, almost regardless of what power you have, and many times, you’re given bubbles with strong offensive powers particular for an upcoming boss. While this lack of difficulty is typically true for the earlier Kirby games, it’s a step down from the challenges that were in Canvas Curse. It makes a great platformer for younger kids, and a nice nod to retro SNES gaming, but for those looking for a bit more meat on the game, there’s not much more to find.

Value / Replayability – B+

A player used to Kirby games can likely buzz through the levels and collect the a good number of the chests within a 5 hr period (no level is really long or involved), while the challenge of collecting all the chests may add another 5hrs onto the game. Three mini-games are also available, all using the touch screen to play against the various Squeak Squad members, as well as the numerous unlockables to browse through. However, there’s not much more outside the basic gameplay that older gamers will find enjoyable.

Graphics: A

Sound: A-

The graphics are nice and clean, using somewhat higher resolution 2D sprites with a lot of good effects. As noted, all the game play takes place on the top screen while the bottom screen is used for inventory manipulation, and works nicely like this as it was used in New Super Mario Bros. or Super Princess Peach. Most of the ingame sound borrows heavily from the SNES days with a lot of improvements as found with the Canvas Curse background music, making great use of the DS speaker system.

Overall: B-

After a few Kirby games that have varied from the basic platform that it started as, one that worked rather well, and one that was met with poor reviews, Kirby Squeak Squad is a comfortable, if easy-paced, return to retro platforming bliss. The game uses the DS features well while keeping nicely consistent with the past Kirby games, but unfortunately lacks any real meat of a challenge for experienced gamers. Young players will likely find the games sufficiently fun and enjoyable, however, this may be an easy rental for most other gamers.

One Response

  1. I haven’t kept up much with the hand held scene but may have to give this game a shot. My brother has a DS, I think that I will buy it for him then I can play it when he gets bored. Nice review BTW. It was very well thought out and honest.

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