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Kirby Canvas Curse Review

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Developer: HAL Laboratory Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: June 13, 2005 Also On: None

Kirby Canvas Curse is one of the first Nintendo DS titles to take full advantage of the DS’s innovative hardware. Innovative is a cliched word anymore with the gaming press, but no other word could better describe the package you get with Canvas Curse. There is simply nothing like it on the market, making it the most exciting release on the DS to date, and the only original property that I would say is a must-own killer app.

Your DS stylus has been infused with the power to paint. When Kirby gets turned into a ball by an evil witch, your hand-drawn rainbow paths become the only way he can find power-ups and reach the gates of each world. Draw loops to make him speed up, make ramps to jump danger, and draw walls to block laser beams and cannon blasts as you explore seven worlds packed with adventure.

Unlike most other Nintendo DS games (i.e. Wario Ware, Yoshi’s Touch and Go, Feel the Magic, and Pac-Pix, for starters), Kirby Canvas Curse is a full-blown platforming adventure that traces (no pun intended) its roots back to the NES. While Kirby might be the main character, there’s no inhalation in Canvas Curse. Instead, Kirby is now a ball, rolling around the playing field, steamrolling enemies instead of eating them.

The essence of Kirby Canvas Curse is radically different from the traditional platforming mold of jumping and fighting enemies. Never before has a true platformer been controlled by a stylus alone. You read right, Canvas Curse uses nothing but the stylus. Considering this, it is amazing that Canvas Curse has as great a level of variety that it does.

So you are reading this and saying to yourself “Kyle, I still don’t know much about the game”? Well, let me give you a better idea of how Canvas Curse plays. First it should be said that there are eight different worlds within which lie three levels. Each level has three stages, bringing the entire package to approximately 48 different stages. That is a lot of game (for a handheld platformer) with a lot of room for replay value with the mini-games and collecting what you missed through the first time.

Controlling Kirby is as simple as a stroke on the screen. He naturally moves left or right, depending on which way he’s facing. You can change his direction by drawing a “wall” for him to bump into. You control his elevation on the screen by drawing a line on the screen, known as an “escalator”.

You theoretically can draw any which way you want, and Kirby will follow the line until he runs into something blocking his way. The play mechanics are flipped when under-water. Say you want him to follow the path of a chain of stars. All you will have to do is curve the stylus every which way that the stars go. You can even draw loops (think Sonic) for him to fly into the air. Get skilled early in the game with your drawing, because later, in tight corridors, you will need to maneuver our pink puffball along several hazards, including lava and spikes.

Defeating enemies is as easy as tapping them with the stylus, stunning them, and then rolling them over. Your stylus is also used as a defense shield. Not your stylus, but the line that you draw with your stylus. The level design makes it possible for you to freely explore and experiment, while cleverly disguising that chain you are following as a shield from cannon fire below. You see, your magical rainbow line that you follow can shield Kirby from spears, from lasers, from just about anything that threatens you. Just be careful; there’s a limited amount of paint for you to use.

What is a Kirby game without some power-ups? Kirby Canvas Curse has plenty of them. Obtained by stunning an enemy with a power-up, the power-ups include a speedy wheel that will plow through large numbers of enemies, a lightning bolt, a rock, and in traditional Kirby fashion, a balloon. What would a Kirby game be without a balloon ability? Seriously though, these power-ups are not just useful in ruthlessly defeating your foes, they also serve a greater purpose in opening hard to reach areas.

The boss fights are some of the first true boss fights that we have seen from any DS title. There are three bosses, with different difficulties. The one boss is a fighting boss that you have to draw your way to, and then defeat. Second is a penguin that you race, eating food along the way to gain speed. The third you have to sketch drawings in connect-the-dot fashion. Another neat little add-on is a Long Jump type mini-game where you dash, draw a line, and Kirby jumps from your platform. Your goal is to jump the longest distance.

Kirby has a large potential for replay value. There are mini-games, as well as the ability to play through the regular game to collect all the items that you might have missed. Rainbow Run is basically all the story-mode levels with a Time Trial and a Line Trial. The Time Trial has you set your marks for the best time, while the Line Trial has you try to finish a level using as little paint as possible.

Oddly enough, I am not even a fan of the pink puffball and I immediately fell in love with Kirby Canvas Curse. The finesse required for Canvas Curse is distinguishable, as is the level of fun that you will have playing this game. If HAL’s creative mind can be extended to future DS titles, there is a bright road ahead. Nintendo’s touch-screen handheld might wind up being the system that revives creative thinking in an industry laden with sequels, remakes, and copycats. Kirby Canvas Curse is the best 2D platformer of this decade. I implore you, buy Canvas Curse today. You won’t regret it.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 9.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide