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Kirby Squeak Squad

01 Apr 07

Platforms: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: HAL
Rating: E (Everyone – Mild Cartoon Violence)
Players: 1-4 players DS Download Play or Multicard LAN

It has been a while since the innovative Kirby: Canvas Curse was first released here.  The sequel has finally arrived, but instead of following in its predecessor’s footsteps, Kirby: Squeak Squad goes back to being your typical platform game. The story is even simpler than before, and the game looks and plays nearly identical to the previous 2 GBA releases.  But you still you can’t go wrong with the pink ball of fluff!
Kirby’s treasure chest, which contains his coveted strawberry shortcake, is stolen by a rat-pack known as the Squeak Squad.  With an unsatisfied sweet tooth, Kirby sets off to recover his precious.  The premise is weak, but hey, playing through 8 worlds of classic Kirby-style levels should be worth it right?
If you have played a traditional Kirby platform game before, you will know exactly what to expect here.  Each level sees you guiding Kirby to the end goal in a very linear fashion.  Along the way there the 120 chests to collect that contain bonuses like extra health and special attacks, or unlockable content such as new skin colours or artwork.  Finding all the chests is not too difficult; a good thing seeing as to gain access to the last 2 worlds you HAVE to obtain 5 special keys hidden in 5 of these 120 chests!

There are about 6 levels per world on average.  Given that there are 8 worlds altogether, first impressions are that there is a lot to do here. Thing is, each level lasts anywhere from 20 seconds to 5 minutes, with many of them hitting at the lower end of the spectrum consistently.  While I don’t think this game would have benefited from hour-long worlds, I can’t help but feel that the many abilities on offer here are wasted by such tiny-sized levels.
It can’t be Kirby game without his trademark copy abilities and there are 23 sweet ones to enjoy here.  These include Ninja, Fighter, UFO, Magic, Wheel, and of course everyone’s favourite, the Sword – cut, cut!  Each copied ability changes Kirby’s appearance to suit, as well as providing him with a totally new move-set.  As a UFO you can shoot different types of laser beams as well as hover in the air, and as a ninja you can throw out shurikens or even pile-drive enemies!   There’s a lot of variety to be had and nearly all of the forms are a lot of fun to use.
As you suck up enemies and gobble them up, they will be transferred from the main top screen to Kirby’s stomach shown below.  The new twist to this game is that his stomach can be filled with up to 5 items at a single time.  This allows you to store abilities for later use and even dabble in some digestive chemistry.  The mixing of abilities is a really neat idea and it allows you to combine an offensive power with an element of nature to produce even more powerful abilities.
Alongside the main adventure, there are also a couple of mini-games available.  These make use of the touch screen and you can also play them together with up to 3 others via multi-card or DS download play.  When you have finished the game, you will also unlock a boss rush mode, with ALL the abilities made available to you at the very start.  This is definitely worth the trouble!

Squeak Squad is a solid platform game and is highly recommended to all young gamers, especially if you are a Kirby fan.  It retains all the charm from previous numbers, while including an ability system that makes good use of DS functionality.  Despite being a bit on the light & easy side, it is nevertheless still a big pink ball of fun.

• There is a truck-load of abilities, and if that isn’t enough, you can make your own!
• Short levels make for a short game.