The Kirby mass effect

, | Game reviews

We were just trying to stay alive, I suppose. We were doing okay for a while. And then we were attacked. They came in through the kitchen window. They were really fast, you know? Chased us. Chased your mum. And we were trapped. Trapped in the bedroom. I seen them, biting. I couldn’t do anything. I tried to go back. She was already gone. She was already gone.

I wrote — well, appropriated might be a more accurate term — the above fan fiction. That passage is from the perspective of one of the creatures in Kirby Mass Attack. A turnip or a fish or a flower or something. In that scene, the creature is explaining to his kids why their mother isn’t around anymore.

After the jump, when Kirbys attack en masse

One Kirby is disconcerting enough. When Kirby eats you, it’s terrible to imagine what goes on in there. At least I have an idea what goes on when Yoshi eats you, because I know what he is. He’s a dinosaur. We know from fossils, computer models, and Richard Attenborough that dinosaurs eat you and then poop you out as an egg. But I don’t know what Kirby is. A rogue child’s toy? A faded red balloon? A discarded organ? A sentient tumor? Is he young? Old? I’m not even sure he’s a he. I mean, yeah, it’s a dude’s name, like Bruno Kirby. But he seems to be wearing make-up and bright red slippers. In my experience, soft round pink things are of the feminine persuasion.

Now multiply Kirby by up to ten. That’s what you get in Kirby Mass Attack. It’s a Kirby tsunami. A mob of Kirbys, wilding, hooliganning. It’s like the London riots, but more pink, with fewer socio-economic implications, and less property damage (although fairly late in the game, the Kirbys — Philistines, all of them — demonstrate a hostility to art by tearing down paintings in a mansion). It’s not a pretty sight when these Kirbys frenzy at a living creature. They charge at it and surround it. They’re biting or punching. I can’t really tell. It’s just a terrible throbbing pink mass. Whatever’s under there must be very unhappy. It’s like a scene from Willard, but hairless.

Of course, the individual Kirbys are deceptively adorable in an almost Patapon way. How they put on a determined face as they swim against the current or how they’ll fearfully peer over a precipice or how they’ll turn around to declare something final, chipper, and Japanese before disappearing into a doorway. Sometimes a Kirby dies and his pale soul collapses before wafting up toward whatever Kirbys believe is waiting for them after death, somewhere over the top of the screen. At those moments, I rage rage against the dying of the light and frantically tap on the wayward Kirbysoul. His companions frenzy at the soul to bring it back to life, much like Ed Marris beating on Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s chest in The Abyss. It’s touching, really. You’d expect a collectivist entity like the Kirbymass wouldn’t mind the loss of one or two of its members. Not so. Even the Kirbymass understands the value of a single life.

And the game itself is truly wonderful, as if to distract you from the horror of the Kirbys’ insatiable appetite and their single-minded obsession with reaching whatever point on the screen you’ve tapped with your stylus. Kirby Mass Attack is a metaphor for hunger, or blind devotion, or the overbearing power of social mores, or maybe post 9/11 patriotism, or the economic collapse of Greece, or Rebecca Black’s latest single, or the premiere of this fall’s network television shows. It’s terrible to behold, but at least it makes for a damn fine game that has single-handedly managed to make my Nintendo DS relevant again.

4 stars
Nintendo DS