Kirby: Canvas Curse
Grab a brush, open a bucket of rainbow essence and paint this reviewer satisfied.
Ah, Kirby. Leave it up to Nintendo to make such a gluttonous character so cute. Our little bulbous friend has made his debut on the DS, and what a glorious debut it is. Kirby : Canvas Curse is an incredibly charming game, one that excels in both game play and incredible use of the technology the DS has to offer. Developer HAL Laboratory has really gone all out on this one, and the final product is a title that could only disappoint the most hateful and cynical gamer.
After having his arms and legs magically removed in a pleasant and non-violent fashion, Kirby finds himself transported into a world of paint and canvas. No longer having any appendages, Kirby has no choice but to roll his way to his objectives. Moving him around is a responsibility that falls upon you, dear player. Using the stylus, players have a limited amount of paint, or as we like to call rainbow essence, that they can use to draw paths in the air that Kirby follows. In addition to laying down some rainbow, players can also tap on enemies to stun them enough for Kirby to roll into and annihilate, as well as activate objects and destroy things. Smashy smashy.
Level design is top notch and all contain an almost perfect blend of challenge and desire to master. It is the levels that really define Canvas Curse as a gem. They are constructed in a fashion that shows the designers put an incredible amount of thought into how to best take advantage of the game mechanics, as players must have Kirby roll, bounce and ride rainbows in a way that once mastered make the game incredibly gratifying.
The art direction in Kirby : Canvas Curse is simply gorgeous. Not only from a technical perspective, as Canvas Curse looks damn amazing on the DS hardware, but it has a flavor to it that makes it so fun to look at. Being that Kirby has been transformed into a chewy pink orb trapped in a world of paint, the levels have a style to them that is indicative of some of the greatest art this planet has ever seen. Now, this would be a great place for us to activate Pretentious Art Patron v 2.0, but the bottom line is we just aren't that smart. Sorry.
Similar to past Kirby games, the spherical eating machine can also digest his enemies to inherit their powers. In this iteration, he has some rather vicious attacks at his disposal such as fireballs, speeding tires and rolling spiky balls, as well as useful transformations including the ability to transform into a balloon. In addition to the enemy powers Kirby can acquire, he can also be tapped with the stylus to send him on a spinning rampage which takes out anything in his way.
There really is a ton to do in Kirby : Canvas Curse. Aside from the 24 levels spanning across 8 different worlds and several unique boss battles, this title has a ton of hidden surprises and features. Perfecting the levels by achieving certain objectives gives you medals, which allows you to buy and unlock tasty little treats such as new mini-games. Particularly addicting are the time trial and line trial modes. While the time trial mode is pretty much self explanatory (and incredibly challenging, to boot), the line trial mode is particularly cool as it has players attempting to get through levels only using a limited amount of rainbow essence. Incredibly addictive (though at times frustrating) stuff.
Speaking of frustrating, what's bad about this title? The most prominent drawback is the fact that the inherent lack of precision with the DS stylus interface can cause some irritating situations. There are often times where some quick and exact moves need to be made, and since sometimes the objects needed to be pressed with the stylus are often rather small, hitting them every time isn't always the way things pan out. Since missing something with the stylus can mean having to start the level all over again, this leads to some repetitive and tedious sessions.
In the end however, it's safe to say that everything about Kirby : Canvas Curse shines with polish. When it came time to sit down and write this review, there was very little that could paint any portion of this game in a negative tone (pun completely intentional). Canvas Curse is strong in every aspect it needs to be: in gameplay, in presentation, and most importantly it takes full advantage of the Nintendo DS' stylus control. Anyone with either an interest in a refreshing take on the classic platform genre or simply looking for something different will definitely find complete satisfaction in this one. Truly a must-play.
What's Hot: The game oozes savory game play and creamy level design, all simmered together with some truly succulent graphics and sound.
What's Not: The occasional frustrating moment courtesy some inaccurate stylus recognition.