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Kirby Squeak Squad Review

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Developer: HAL Laboratory Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: December 5, 2006 Also On: None

Kirby’s Canvas Curse was a Nintendo DS sleeper and one of the highest-rated Nintendo DS games on Game Freaks 365, earning a 9.5 out of 10 in early 2005. One of the first fully-featured Nintendo DS games, Canvas Curse showed what the DS could do with lots of touch screen innovation, creative graphics, and deep gameplay features. Kirby Squeak Squad, Kirby’s sophomore DS effort, is nothing like its predecessor. It is instead much more like the NES, SNES, N64, and Game Boy adventures of this beloved ballooning Nintendo character, and as a result it offers much of the same.

Strawberry shortcake is quite a tasty morsel. With this in mind, one must understand why Kirby is so inclined to tracking down and finding the thief of his delicious treat. After finding out that the normally devious King Dedede is innocent of charge, Kirby discovers the Squeak Squad, a menacing band of baddies, is responsible. This leads to his trek through eight cute, colorful worlds in search of his dessert. The story is so bare-bones that it’s hard to call it anything but ridiculous and unimportant, but one must ask how important a 2D platformer’s storyline really is in the first place.

With the 2D platformer standards already in sight, Kirby hits on all cylinders: the levels are fun and have a great design. Enemies fill up every one of them, some hidden in walls for an extra challenge. Kirby’s suck-things-up skills come in handy like always, and there are more than 20 abilities to help the little guy get through each level and defeat his countless enemies. These abilities are mostly familiar; you’ll spit fire, blow ice, and even emit sparks. Rather than only destroying enemies, some abilities affect your environment–for example, blowing ice over lava keeps the molten substance from burning Kirby. Another perk this time around is that Kirby can keep up to five abilities or items stored in his stomach, and using the touch screen, the player can combine things to form other abilities or items. I’d have liked to see more abilities, though. This is where Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards really excelled; letting the player combine several different skills for really fun effects. How could I forget Fridge Kirby?

Kirby Squeak Squad doesn’t offer much depth to its formula and rarely strays from what’s worked in the past. One could go as far as to say that it’s simply an update from the GBA titles, and those that really enjoyed Canvas Curse will be disappointed to find that the amount of gameplay modes and the depth found in each is noticeably missing here. Kirby Squeak Squad is as short as any Kirby game, too, clocking in at about five or six hours for a trip through each of the eight worlds. In its defense, there are collectibles that serve as a bonus for exploring each level. By finding treasure chests scattered through the worlds, you’ll unlock things like enhanced abilities (throw a bigger Cutter!) and even different Kirby colors (paint him Green!) This extends the length of the game a few hours, but I only missed a few treasure chests in each world, so they’re not much of a pain to go back and get.

Kirby has a distinct style and this style was preserved very well in Canvas Curse, despite the major functional change. Squeak Squad has no excuse to mess this up, and it doesn’t. The visuals are crisp, clean, colorful, and are 2D greatness. Kirby and everything in his world animates very well. The abilities yield some decent 2D effects. I’d have liked to see some 3D here and there, though–if a game like Super Mario 64 DS can deliver a totally-3D experience, I’d imagine a game like Kirby could integrate some 3D into its style, and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards looked great. The music and sound effects have Kirby written all over them, so series fans will find a lot of familiar sounds and such.

Kirby Squeak Squad is no Canvas Curse, but it’s another great platform effort for the DS and yet another solid Kirby title. Though they seem to come out by the year, Kirby games always generate some excitement with younger crowds (partially thanks to the television series) and I’d imagine that age group will really enjoy this title as much as the others. One might notice that I gave Kirby Squeak Squad the same score as I gave Yoshi’s Island DS. Both are solid DS platformers, and I’d say they’re interchangeable–if you’re into the Kirby series, check out Kirby. If you’re into the classic Yoshi’s Island, try that one. If you want to try both, by all means, it’s no mistake on your part. Despite its shortcomings, Kirby is a fun game that joins New Super Mario Bros. and Yoshi’s Island DS for a very solid trio of Nintendo platform games.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5.5
Final: 7.7
Written by Cliff Review Guide