Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kirby Squeak Squad (DS) Review

AKA Kirby Mouse Attack [EU]
2006 Flagship/Natsume/HAL Laboratory/Nintendo
Started on December 2nd, but finished on the 17th

I remember the first time I played this game. I had played a bit of it on one of my cousins' Nintendo DS back in the summer of '06, and I thought it was fun from what I had played; it was the first Kirby title that I played for the DS (I didn't play Kirby Canvas Curse until Christmas of '08, but that's a story for another time). However, it wasn't until two years later that I would purchase the game and play it to completion (I did not have a Nintendo DSLite until April of '08). This game introduced an interesting set of new enemies to the series, and the familiarized Game Boy Advance feel was nice. However, while I think it's a fun game, it does have a few flaws. I'm not trying to make it sound like I'm finishing this review right away, as it will not happen until the concluding paragraph. I've still more to talk about with this game. So, how does the game fare after these few years?

It was a nice day in Dream Land, where all was well and peaceful. It was Kirby's favorite time of day: snack time. Kirby was hungry, and decided to eat a scrumptious strawberry shortcake; however, before he got to take a bite, his tasty meal disappeared in the blink of an eye. Kirby was left shocked and had wondered what happened to his delicious snack. Kirby came to the conclusion that it must've been that awfully greedy King Dedede that stole it, so he decided to confront him. However, it soon turns out that King Dedede is innocent, and it's revealed that the strawberry shortcake was stolen by a band of mousy critters called the Squeaks. Kirby would not rest until he would finally recuperate and eat that snack. I'll be honest, the fact that Kirby was doing all this just to eat pastry left me with a mixed feeling at first; but eventually I thought it was all right. In fact, it's a very cute plot. Kirby will be going through worlds that vary in style and environment.

Control is like that of the Game Boy Advance Kirby games, though considering the fact that the Nintendo DS is practically a portable SNES (it's got the Y and X buttons), save for two screens and the fact that you could use the stylus sometimes, I kinda wish the controls were in SNES style. Otherwise, no complaints here. Kirby can walk, run, climb, duck, swim, and swallow enemies. Flagship seems to have tweaked the controls a tiny bit; for example, it might just be me, but Kirby seems to be jumping a bit higher than he did in his other games, plus his slides are fast and brief, too. Kirby can still inhale his enemies, and if he swallows an enemy with an ability, you'll receive a power up. If you get hit while you have the power up, the ability star will bounce off of Kirby, and you'll only have a few seconds to take back that ability before it disappears. Familiar abilities appear from the past games, and there are also new abilities; like Animal Kirby and Metal Kirby. Throughout the game, you'll be collecting treasure chests (if you can find them); and inside them are scrolls that give you a new trick for a certain ability, a map piece, a heart piece (if you get two, your health will increase a tiny bit), color spray, and more. Your health is represented by a bar, just like in Kirby Super Star (Ultra). There is also a new technique: the items and/or abilities encased inside bubbles. Any time that Kirby touches or inhales a bubble, it will go inside his rotund tummy. The bottom screen of the DS is represented by Kirby's tummy, and you can only have up to five items in there. If you tap the ability bubble with your stylus, then Kirby will transform into that ability right away; but, should you not desire the ability bubble, you can always slide the bubble to the topmost portion of the bottom screen, and you can decide whether to keep it inside you or spit it out (while the ability is still inside the bubble). What's cool is that there is even an ability which turns enemies with powers into ability bubbles. At the end of each world, you face a boss, and defeating a boss earns you a passage to the next world. Sometimes, you may collect a chest, and the moment you do a major Squeak will try to prevent you from escaping with it. If you get hit by a Squeak while you have the chest, it will get off of Kirby, but you can always get it back; but should a Squeak bring it back to its lair, you'll have to enter the lair to face him off and retrieve the chest. In the title screen, you could decide to play (one of) three mini-games, all requiring the usage of the stylus. Just like the majority of the games in the series, it saves automatically.

The soundtrack is very fun to listen to. The tracks are all familiar Kirby fare, with HAL's trademark sound, with a few diverse tracks as well; the songs are really good and they fit their chosen environs well. A few songs are remixed from the classic games, and there are new songs, too. One that comes to mind is an eerily relaxing banjo tune followed by airiness in one of the stages, which strikes me as ambient-sounding; another song that comes to mind is a very airy song with an ongoing ominous overtone. I feel that Natsume participated in the sound department, too; 'cause in the past games of the series there was barely (if any) any ambience. Not that it's a bad thing, as it's quite a nice change. The boss themes are good. The sound effects are decent, and some were lifted from past games. The Squeaks make an adorable squeak sound, and the ability sound effects match their abilities.

The visuals are like the ones you'd see in a Game Boy Advance game, and they're really good. The main sprites were largely lifted from the two Game Boy Advance Kirby games, and they are quite small considering how large the screen ratio is. In fact, try comparing the sprite size to that of Kirby Super Star Ultra's; the difference is quite jarring. But, then I'd be digressing, and I don't want to do that. The colors are vibrant, and the characters' and enemies' animations are still as good as ever. Flagship decided to give Kirby a few more idle animations whenever he stands still: for example, when Kirby stands still while holding the parasol he will sway around and tap his foot, or when Kirby holds still long enough as Animal Kirby he'll scratch his costume's ear with his foot. The major Squeaks are designed quite nicely; one is a ninja with cool shades, another is gigantic and robust, another is a small mustachioed one with swirly glasses, and the leader of the Squeaks is mischievous. The cutscenes are displayed through comic book-like cutscenes, and thankfully they're crisp and smooth and do not run in VHS quality. For some strange reason, whenever you swallow an enemy with an ability, it takes one complete loading second to turn into that ability. Why a whole second, I wonder? It's not a CD game. Maybe Flagship tried to get adjusted to the DS hardware? Maybe I'm thinking too much about that. You can collect up to six "wallpapers" for the bottom screen, which is actually Kirby's tummy with a different background. I love how the back of the box says "Change the world!", because Kirby's abilities may have a powerful effect on the environment; breathing fire or shooting yourself as a fireball will melt the snow, and blowing ice on the water will create icy land. It gives a feeling of realism.

Kirby Squeak Squad is an easy game, but there are a few moments of challenge. If you want to just beat the game it'll be easy, but if you want to collect everything you may have a bit of a hard time. The 120 treasure chests can be obtained in a number of ways; whether by just finding it, by swallowing a pale yellow-ish Waddle Dee, or by defeating a boss. Once you round up a big silver chest the Squeaks will appear and will attempt to prevent you from escaping with the chest. It's really fun to try to collect all the treasure chests, but you must have room for them in the bottom screen, otherwise Kirby will reject them. Once you manage to obtain all the treasure chests you'll unlock Extra Mode, which is the same game except you have to do it all in one sitting, plus it times how long you take to beat it. The game is also quite short, as it can be beaten in about three hours' time or less. But, it's fun while it lasts.

As I stated in the introductory paragraph (for which I probably should've waited until the end), this game is good. It's got a few flaws, and the one-second loading time I find quite questionable. But, this game has beautiful graphics and well-composed music, and the gameplay is good. I liked the diverse variety in the worlds, and some chests were quite challenging to obtain. It's a bit short, but that's okay, as there are things that make up for it. The plot was cute and the atmosphere great. I enjoyed playing as Animal Kirby a lot, as the costume he dons is absolutely adorable. The bubbled ability system was really nice, and there's more. HAL must've heard about gamers trying to guess what Kirby is, maybe a ghost (when we all really know that he's a puffball), that they've decided to do something that I find quite funny (should you collect a certain amount of items), but that's a surprise. It's easy, but it's okay, even though I would've wanted to see more. This game is quite enjoyable, and the second best Kirby game on the DS.



  1. Nice review :)

    I would've given it a 7 myself. Decent fun, but nowhere near the best Kirby game.