After Nintendo's media briefings, they always seem to show a few games within their gameplay montages that you're either a little confused about or you've never heard of before. This year's gaming enigma had to be Kirby Mass Attack. The game's title showed up along with the names of many other titles at the end of their media briefing and everyone looked at each other with confusion. In fact, until I reached Nintendo's booth later that day, I knew nothing about the title, let alone that it's one of the sole DS titles present at E3 (the majority of games there were 3DS games, which was no surprise).
The Kirby franchise is well known for its classic platforming/adventure gameplay but it's also seen some of the most ambitious spin-offs of any series to date. From the classic pinball games and Tilt & Tumble to Canvas Curse and Epic Yarn, Kirby has seen a multitude of gameplay experiments that almost always work out extremely well. Mass Attack seems to be off to yet another solid gameplay implementation.
The game features touch screen controls that require you to move a group of 10 Kirbys through traditional levels. You can tap the touch screen to get them to move in that direction or drag the stylus for more precise movements. Other moves could be done such as tossing the Kirbys in a direction by grabbing them (by pressing the stylus) and then flicking the stylus in the direction you wish to throw them. This allows you to use the Kirbys as a weapon for attacking baddies and also adds precision based controls to make for some enjoyably difficult maneuvers.
The goal of the game is to get all 10 Kirbys through the levels without losing many of them (or ideally keeping all of them alive). I don't know what you get for reaching the goal with all of them kicking but I do know that it can be difficult to keep track of them all and keep them out of danger (I finished the level I played with only 9 of the 10 because one of them fell in the water). Also, the levels are extremely long compared to previous Kirby levels, and though you can save a Kirby from dying by moving others over to him, once you've lost one I would assume you can't get him back without restarting the level.
Kirby Mass Attack is scheduled to be released on September 19, 2011 in the States so stay tuned for our in depth review in the coming months.