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DS  header logo

Kirby Squeak Squad (aka Kirby: Mouse Attack)

For: DS

Let them eat cheesecake

Product: Kirby: Mouse Attack | Developer: Flagship | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: DS | Genre: Platform | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: US
 
Kirby: Mouse Attack DS, thumbnail 1
It's that time of year when people make rash promises to reduce their calorie intake. Not Kirby though. His sole motivation is eating cake and plenty of it.

Hence Kirby Squeak Squad has the rotund pink glutton jumping, floating and scoffing his way through 50-odd levels of platforms and enemies, in pursuit of a stolen strawberry cheesecake.

His appetite doesn't stop at confectionery. If Kirby inhales sharply near a foe, he will suck up the poor blighter and can then decide whether to spit to use them as a handy projectile, or swallow and gain their special attack.

This brings plenty of variety and not a little strategy into play. Digest Cupid and you can fire arrows, picking off baddies from a distance. Eat rubber and you transform into a wheel of fire with a Sonic-style speed boost. Our favourite, and a new trick for Kirby, is to turn into a hulking, metallic lump, stomping forward with virtual immunity.

It's certainly an interesting arsenal, and half the fun here is in consuming a newly encountered enemy and playing around with whatever power then burps forth. There are over 25 to discover, including ninja, UFO, ghost and laser. You can also combine certain abilities by dragging them one over the other using the stylus, while employing a copy scroll powers up whichever ability Kirby's using.

It should be noted however that a jolt of electricity, a swirl of lightning or a burst of flame have pretty much the same effect, and the different abilities are seldom required to negotiate specific obstacles. Generally they serve as a swift way of dispatching enemies, only really becoming vital when facing end-of-level bosses.

As you might expect, the structure of Kirby Squeak Squad follows the traditional platforming one of themed worlds, split into bite-sized levels, punctuated by the obligatory boss battles. These giant opponents, usually dastardly rodents from the sponge-snatching Squeak Squad, all share a Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that compels them to repeat the same attack pattern endlessly.

Thankfully this also always provides a window of opportunity for you to hit them where it hurts. Nothing in Kirbyland is too taxing and extra lives are plentiful.

It's familiar fare, then, but the ingredients are well prepared. The visuals tick the cute'n'colourful box and as Kirby goes through a haberdasher's worth of fancy headwear to complement each freshly acquired ability, you'll soon be whispering 'adorable' like an extra from Ugly Betty.

There's a buffet load of collectibles too, with badges, scrolls and hidden chests to locate and proudly display as proof of your insatiable desire to accumulate virtual stuff. Some finds enable you to perform cosmetic changes if you think pink is so last year, or listen back to the jaunty in-game tunes, though it's hard to get overly excited about these little extras.

The mini-games prove somewhat tastier side dishes. The four on offer include Speedy Teatime, which involves grabbing treats from a tray before your equally greedy opponent scoffs them, and the flick-to-win Treasure Shot. Playing these wirelessly with friends is undoubtedly fun (and a four-player eat-off can get those competitive juices flowing nicely) – solo they won't hold your attention for long.

At least these sub-game distractions do make use of the stylus and dual screens, which are employed minimally in the main story mode. You can store items and combine abilities via the touchscreen, but not control Kirby.

Indeed, the conventional D-pad and buttons control system, the usual blend of baddie fodder leading to beefed-up bosses and the overly familiar settings (fire and ice-themed worlds suggest a lack of imagination), gives Kirby Squeak Squad the feel of a competent but rather uninspired Gameboy Advance title.

Kirby's previous outing on the DS, the excellent Power Paintbrush, made sparkling use of the unique touchscreen interface. It had you artfully directing Kirby with strokes of your stylus, leaving rainbow trails for him to traverse and playing frantic games of Etch-a-Sketch against the clock.

Nothing here is half as innovative or entertaining. You're left with something that starts off sweet but soon becomes sickly: rather like that strawberry cheesecake Kirby is so enamoured of.
 
Kirby Squeak Squad (aka Kirby: Mouse Attack)
Reviewer photo
Paul Drury | 11 January 2007
A decent gaming snack, but Kirby Squeak Squad is unlikely to satisfy those hungry for a challenge
 
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