I started playing this game when it first came out, and I really loved it, but I never finished it. My memory of the experience was that the game was fantastic, but maybe a bit long and samey after a while. I sort of got the point
early in world 6 (out of 8) and got bored and stopped. It's been on the "I really should finish this one someday" shelf ever since, and now I finally did. Enough years have passed since then that I was fresh and rested on the Squeak Squad experience, so clearing out the final stretch now was fine. However, even the three worlds this time felt like "Yes this was a good experience, I am content with this and am pleasantly full now," so I can see how I might have gotten tired and overstuffed from the prospect of doing eight.
So, there's my overall impression, I guess: Squeak Squad is phenomenal, and if an abbreviated version of it had been in, say, Super Star or some other collection like that to keep things varied, it would easily have been my favorite game in the entire collection. As a full title, though, I am inclined to agree with my past self's assertion that it runs a bit long. It's a shame that there's too much of a good thing here, though, because I really cannot overstate just how good the thing itself is.
Squeak Squad is a fairly traditional Kirby-style Kirby game (which is kind of saying something in a series that's known for Canvas Curse and other experimental oddities) that's probably most similar to Dyna Blade from Super Star, if I had to pick a point of comparison. It has that Mario 3-like hub world maps between stages, anyway. You can float around and get Copy powers and blah blah the actual draw to Squeak Squad in particular is, of course, the Squeak Squad.
The primary antagonist for most of this game is The Squeaks, a gang of rodent thieves bent on stealing all the treasure in Dreamland. For some oddly specific reason, that includes making double extra sure Kirby can't have the delicious strawberry cake that he was about to eat before it was tragically stolen. Seriously, every faction in this game spends the entire game treating Kirby's cake like it's the Ark of the Covenant. Even Meta Knight gets involved because cake is that important.
That's a Kirby game for you, I guess. Because eating is serious business in Dreamland, Kirby will stop at nothing to stop the Squeaks from stopping at nothing to stop him from stopping them.
It's all typical Kirby plot nonsense but I'm saving the best part for last because LOOK AT THESE SQUEAKS.
Especially look at their leader, Daroach, who boldly answers the burning question everyone has always been dying to know: "What if Plok's
fursona became a magician and then a thief?" He is my new favorite character in the entire Kirby franchise and I love him forever.Seriously, even their theme music is great.
The "Squeak, Squeak!" effect between certain sections is the cutest thing.
(I mentioned Meta Knight is in this too, which is also fantastic. He is my other favorite character in the franchise behind only Daroach, because he is basically an actual canon in-universe version of someone's grimdark DeviantArt Kirby OC. He tries so hard
to be Christopher Nolan/Christan Bale Batman in a world that stubbornly insists on treating him as Adam West Batman, and it's incredible every single time. So yeah, this game gets high marks for its cast, for sure.)
Every stage has up to three treasure chests in it. The HUD on the map screen very helpfully shows you how many you've collected, making it very easy to know where to look if you feel like hundred-percenting this game. (Which is recommended, actually, because later it pulls a nasty trick where five star fragments from various chests scattered about the first six worlds are needed to access world seven and continue the game.) Most contain things like alternate palette swap options for Kirby, music packs for the sound test mode, and various extras like that. The typical stage formula sees every treasure chest except the last one be hidden through some side passage or something along the way throughout the stage, and then the last one is in the last room and involves facing off against one of the Squeaks for it. (Grab it and reach the exit while they're chasing you, it's right next to the exit but you need to get there before the Squeak does, beat it out of the Squeak in a straight up miniboss fight, etc.)
It's all good fun and there's not much else to say I guess because I mean it's a Kirby game, but it's a GOOD Kirby game. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go back to making heart-eyes at my magic squeaky boyfriend.