Aside from Mario, Kirby is among the most dependable of Nintendo’s mascot characters, whether starring in an adventure of his own or appearing as a fighter in a “Super Smash Bros.” game. Two fine new titles starring the little round guy showcase his adaptable nature.
“Kirby’s Return to Dreamland” for Wii sends the pink puffball and his friends on a lighthearted, kid-friendly quest to help a crashed alien ship regain its lost components. Kirby has access to all his signature moves — he can inhale and then expel objects and enemies as stars, fill himself with air to float, and swallow certain foes to gain their powers for himself — one might grant a sword, another control over flames. There are new powers as well, such as a leafy cyclone and a whip.
Consuming certain glowing enemies will grant him a supercharged version of their usual power — a giant sword, a serpent of flame or a controllable ball of magic energy are among the abilities he can gain for a short time. These Super Abilities can smash through some parts of the game’s levels, allowing Kirby to reach hidden items and portals to bonus areas. Kirby can now also take in multiple enemies and objects at a time,
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allowing him to spit out a giant star shot.
Up to four players can team up for this Dream Land adventure, with players beyond the first choosing from a Kirby duplicate or one of several other characters, each with its own unique powers.
Where “Return to Dreamland” is very much in the vein of past adventures for the character, the Nintendo DS game “Kirby Mass Attack” takes a much different approach. In this game, Kirby has been split into 10 weaker versions of himself by a villain, and only en masse can they hope to win the day and become whole again.
You start out with a single Kirby, but collecting enough fruit will generate more and more, to an upper limit 10.
You direct this little mob with taps, presses and flicks of your stylus on the touchscreen of the DS system. They will follow your star-shaped pointer as well as they can, gang up to pummel on enemies you point to, and can be gathered up in a bubble to transport them directly to places they can’t otherwise reach.
The key to overcoming most obstacles lies in teamwork — five or eight or 10 Kirbys can tackle problems that one or two can’t hope to defeat.