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Kirby: Squeak Squad – DS

Kirby: Squeak Squad – DS

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DSPlatform:  Nintendo DS

Release Date (NA):  December 4th, 2006

Developers:  Flagship, Natsume

Publishers:  Nintendo, HAL Laboratory 

Genre:  Platformer

Nerd Rating:  7.5 out of 10

 

While looking for something to keep housed in my 3DS for all those doctor’s visits and waiting in the carpool line, I turned to my large-ish collection of Kirby games that I’ve been ever so slowly plodding through.  Why Squeak Squad?  I can’t really say, other than I’ve always thought it was a cool sounding name.  After a lot of wrestling with the cartridge (remember how until very recently GameStop stuck the price sticker directly on the contacts of DS games?), I finally got underway.

For the most part, Kirby: Squeak Squad is your everyday, run-of-the-mill Kirby game.  But that’s not a bad thing.  It’s a good thing.  Kirby is fun!  Seriously, the formula may not be anything new, but it’s been a damn good formula so far.  Squeak Squad is a whimsical little platformer, and in case you’re unfamiliar with the little pink ball, he can “inhale” almost anything that moves and then copy the abilities of certain bad guys or spit them back out as weapons.  There’s a hefty amount of “copy abilities” available which can further be enhanced and combined to various degrees.  Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Kirby can also float, which removes a great deal of the jumping aspects involved in a platformer.  In fact, most of the game is spent solving rudimentary puzzles (generally involving the correct usage of copy abilities).

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

Where it all starts…

It’s hard to stop myself from launching into a long list or three about what all’s available in Squeak Squadbut I am going to attempt to keep specifics to a minimum.  Our story starts off harmlessly enough, with Kirby sitting down to enjoy a piece of strawberry shortcake.  Suddenly, some unseen cretin snatches it away, and boy is Kirby pissed!  Naturally he confronts King Dedede at first but quickly realizes that he’s innocent.  Then Kirby becomes more aware of the so-called “Squeak Squad,” a band of mischievous critter who run around stealing treasure.  Eventually this all leads to a mysterious encounter with Meta Knight, after which Kirby comes to the real root of the problem, a nasty entity known as Dark Nebula.

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

The Squeak Squad: Sounds like a rap group, maybe?”I’m the D O C and I love stealin’ shortcake,
My name’s Storo and I kinda gotta bellyache,
S to the P I double N I,
I may have a cape but I cannot fly!
Make way for Daroach, King of the Squeaks,
I swiped yo’ cake cuz I love tha sweets!”

The game world is divided into 8 levels, each with a handful of stages, including a secret one.  The objective, much like any platformer, is to make it from the beginning of the stage to the end of the stage.  However, it’s a little more interesting than that.  Each stage can contain between 1 to 3 treasure chests.  To truly complete the game, all chests must be found, and many times they’re located out of the way, or only accessible using a certain ability.  There’s a definite exploratory element to Squeak Squadespecially as the levels increase in difficulty.

The real fun comes from moving through these levels with Kirby’s multitude of copy abilities.  Kirby can turn into a nigh-invulnerable wheel, or breath fire, or wield a sword, or shoot lasers, or throw ninja stars, or… you get the idea.  And beyond merely gallivanting around with lasers or electrical fields, Kirby needs certain abilities to interact with the environment in certain ways.  Swords can cut grass, fire can light candles, and so on.  Most of the connections are pretty easy to make, though there are some pretty clever ideas thrown in from time to time.

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

The Copy Palette, lower screen.

Squeak Squad is extremely generous with most of the copy abilities, whether appearing as standalone powerups or in the form of enemies who will grant Kirby their special power.  In fact, there are so many chances to grab so many copy abilities that it’s nearly impossible to know what exactly you’ll need the most.  At first I was a little frustrated and overwhelmed, but when I saw that the game wasn’t nearly as restricted as I’d feared, I enjoyed being able to experiment with any ability I wanted.  Once I got over the fear of, “will I need this!? or what about that!!??” I had a lot of fun doing whatever I felt like doing.

Of particular interest is the “Copy Palette,” which acts as a sort of inventory system on the lower screen of the DS.  The trick is that Kirby can only carry 5 things at a time, including treasure chests, stored copy abilities, food, and other items.  This leads to an almost constant state of debating what to save, what to use, and what to toss, though like I said, this gets easier once you realize that you’ll run across almost any copy ability in the near future.

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

It’s Ghost Kirby in the flesh…er…wait, that’s not quite right…

Collecting all the treasure chests in every level serves a few purposes.  Although you can “beat the game” by doing no more than defeating each of the bosses, your game will be a good deal easier and a great deal more fun if you pick up as many chests as possible along the way.  And since you can go back into any previously completed level at any time, there’s really no reason not to.  These chests contain a number of things: spray paint for making Kirby a different color, pieces of a map to a “secret location” (an awesome room with all of the copy abilities – stock up at your leisure!), sound bytes, keys to open each level’s secret stage, and more.  But the most novel items are the “Copy Scrolls.”  Copy Scrolls enhance Kirby’s powers for a specific ability and once you start picking these up, Kirby becomes almost unstoppable.  The coolest thing is that it allows Kirby to start combining copy abilities on the Copy Palette himself to make all new abilities!  Not every combination yields a brand new result, but this is the only way to get abilities like the Fire Sword.  It also makes obtaining the Ghost Ability a little easier as well.

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

A couple of typical screenshots from Squeak Squad.

Squeak Squad is not a difficult game by any means.  Pretty much anyone should be able to 100% the game, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun process.  I had a great time playing with all of the copy abilities and scouring every inch of every stage.  As the game progresses, some chests are increasingly well hidden.

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

Tough to see, but Meta Knight is hanging around in the upper left. This is one of the game’s tougher fights.

The boss fights can be a little troublesome, though I often found that they boiled down to discovering the correct strategy to deal with them.  Depending on the boss, one ability may make short work of him while another may have almost no effect at all.  And of course there’s always the option to go at it as “regular” Kirby who spits out extremely powerful stars that are perfect for bringing down the boss’ health.

You’ll also find yourself at odds with the Squeak Squad itself, usually at least once per level.  These guys like to grab a big chest and make Kirby take chase, or either bait Kirby with a chest and then appear en masse to take it back.  If Kirby gets hit too much by the Squeak Squad, he’ll start dropping any chests he has, and eventually the Squad will start running away with them.  These little races and face offs add some urgency to the relatively relaxed pace of the game, and force Kirby to earn these chests through combat rather than ingenuity.

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

Squeak swarm! With bombs!

Squeak Squad is exceedingly well designed. The developers have put a great deal of thought into how the levels are laid out and how certain abilities play into environmental factors. It hits a great sweet spot between easy and challenging, for me anyway, with just enough going on to keep me interested but not frustrated.  Interacting with the environment is a big part of exploration, from cutting/burning away clouds to digging through the dirt.  Whoever planned out these levels did so with exceptional alacrity and figuring out what is and isn’t possible with certain abilities accounts for much of the fun.

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

Check out the awesome background art.

Graphics are on par with what you’d expect on the DS.  Kirby is a game of simple shapes and bright colors and it uses them to its advantage to create a lively, playful, and inviting world.  Kirby games have always had a distinctive visual style, and Squeak Squad continues the tradition.  Simple shapes and bright colors also work well on the DS’ small screen, and it’s never difficult to tell what’s going on.  The music is similarly lighthearted, with catchy, uplifting tunes around every turn.

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

A ridiculously hard minigame. All you have to do is touch the cakes…good luck….

Squeak Squad offers a few extras for those who want to keep going beyond the main game.  There are 3 minigames which rely mostly on touching the bottom screen to affect events on the top screen; they’re pretty simple and not dissimilar to modern mobile games.  Most notable is the “Extra Mode.”  Once the player has beaten the game and collected all 120 chests, this mode becomes available.  I don’t quite understand its purpose, but it aims to time the player on how long it takes to go back and get all 120 chests…again.  How does this differ from simply adding a clock to the main game?  I don’t know.  At any rate, it’s basically developer-sanctioned speedrunning.

There may not be a lot to say about the originality or innovation of Kirby: Squeak Squadthough it definitely touches on something intrinsic to video gaming: having fun!  Squeak Squad isn’t out to test your reflexes or your mental endurance or your problem solving abilities, it exists just to be a well made distraction.  I see no reason why fans of Kirby wouldn’t have a great time with this title, and it’s great for anyone who wants to get back to a more casual, less intense experience while gaming.

And when you finish up with Squeak Squaddon’t forget to head over to the superb Triple Deluxe!

Reviewed by The Cubist

Kirby: Squeak Squad - DS

 

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist


Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

Email me anytime, about anything: thecubist@nerdbacon.com

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