There are two kinds of Kirby. Good old, traditional Kirby -- he runs along, sucks up enemies and copies their powers. Nice and normal, and games like Kirby's Adventure and the upcoming Kirby Wii showcase him.
Then there's the other Kirby. The daring, inventive one. This Kirby does things differently, starring in titles with wild play mechanics or wacky visual styles -- titles like Kirby: Canvas Curse and Kirby's Epic Yarn. And since there are these two different kinds of Kirby, it's appropriate that the two different Kirby games being showcased here at E3 each focus on one of them -- Kirby Wii is the normal one. And Kirby: Mass Attack, on DS, is the weirdo.
This all-new DS adventure takes our hero Kirby and carves him up into multiple copies. We've seen clone characters like this before, like the four different Links in Zelda: Four Swords, and Kirby himself even split four ways back in Kirby and the Amazing Mirror on Game Boy Advance. This time, though, the multiplication is much more massive. There are ten different Kirby clones, all playing together at once.
You're in command of them all. Using only the stylus and touch screen to direct their movements, you guide the hulking mob of little pink blobs by tapping to get them to run and flicking them, one by one, to smash into blocks and jump over obstacles.
If you see an enemy approaching, you can tap repeatedly on it -- and the Kirbies will all gang-attack the poor creature, jumping on it in a giant pile and pummeling it into submission. Need to move all ten Kirby clones at once? Press on the touch screen and hold the stylus there, and a small star icon will absorb all the Kirbies together into one floating mass. You can then drag across the screen to draw a rainbow trail just like in Kirby: Canvas Curse, and the cloud of Kirbies will follow its path through the air.
It's wacky stuff, and, as usual, it totally works. Kirby really never ceases to amaze me. This franchise does so many different things, and only very rarely are the results anything other than brilliant. Kirby: Mass Attack may end up as one of the swan songs for the original DS hardware when it's released later this year, and it's just got to bring a smile to your face that the first dual-screen system is still seeing new kinds of innovation even here at the end of its run.
But that's what the weird, inventive kind of Kirby does. He keeps things interesting.