Chris Sell
03 Nov, 2005

Kirby Canvas Curse Review

DS Review | Nintendo's pink ball of joy finally makes his way to the DS.
2D platformers on the DS have been disappointingly sparse so far, so the recent Australian release (sorry Europe, you’ll have to wait until the end of the month) is a much-welcomed one. Kirby has had a plethora of games over the years, but few as different as this. The story is about as irrelevant as expected, something about an evil witch wanting to change Dream Land into a painting with her magical paintbrush. Kirby, of course, confronts her only to have the witch amputate Kirby’s limbs leaving him as a big, fat pink ball. Luckily, she accidentally leaves her mystical paintbrush behind, so it’s up to you to use the brush to assist Kirby in tracking down the witch and stopping her evil plans.

The controls for Kirby Canvas Curse are delightfully unique. Using just the touchscreen, things are as intuitive as you could possibly hope for. With simple strokes with the stylus you can paint rainbows onto the screen in a bid to guide Kirby through the 2D levels. Kirby will follow the direction in which you paint and using these rainbows you must aim to create walls to avoid traps, draw curves to generate slopes and even paint loops to increase your speed. Initially it’s not easy, but within minutes you’ll be able to control Kirby without a sweat. Not only can you paint with the stylus, you can also use it to attack enemies. You can either tap the actual enemies to stun them, or even propel Kirby himself into attacking enemies manually.

Like past Kirby games, if a defeated enemy has a special power, Kirby will then steal this power to use to his advantage. These range from rocket ships and electricity attacks, to turning Kirby into a stone to pound his enemies. These are activated by simply touching Kirby, while a quick second touch will return him to his normal self. These items can be used as much as you want, but you will lose them if you sustain any damage while on possession of them. In conclusion, it’s amazing how well the controls for Canvas Curse work, and how quickly you get used to them. When you consider than this control method has pretty much never been used before I was somewhat skeptical, but within 30mins all my fears were put to rest.

Painting loops is not only fun, but it can help you collect out of reach stars too.

The game itself is split into 7 worlds, containing 3 levels each with one final ‘boss stage’ world. Being a Nintendo game you would expect each world has its own distinctive theme, but here things are mixed up a bit. For example, world 2 features an eerie haunted stage, a level set in the countryside and finally one based inside a volcano. Level variety on the whole is extremely good with rarely the same environment ever used more than twice throughout the whole game. The levels themselves are packed with their own distinctive features. One has you lighting lamps to see your way through a dark haunted mansion, while another is filled with cannons that you must control their explosions by tapping them. The visual variety is pleasing too with every kind of theme you could think of covered.

At the end of each world you will encounter a boss character. Unlike most games, you can choose which boss to face, although they will get individually harder as you challenge them multiple times. These boss stages aren’t a battle in a traditional sense, but are in fact drawing games. Whether it’s drawing ‘dot to dot’ shapes as quickly as possible or guiding Kirby on a high-speed race with your stylus, they each entertain in their own way. The final boss however is a much more conventional encounter and actually works so well that it’s a shame there weren’t more like this in the game proper.

The replay value in Canvas Curse is surprisingly high. Although the main game isn’t that lengthy, once beaten it unlocks what is called the ‘Rainbow Run’ mode. Here, you can go into the any of the levels to compete in a time trial against the clock or, more interestingly, a line trial where you’re given only a certain amount of ink with which to finish each level. The more you draw, the less points you get, so carefully learning the best routes through each level is key to success. In addition to these, 3 giant coins are hidden in each level. These can be used in the shop to unlock things such as music, new painting decals and even new characters to control.

Kirby Canvas Curse is simply beautiful at times.

Graphically Canvas Curse is impressive from start to finish and rivals Yoshi’s Island as Nintendo’s finest looking 2D creation. The backgrounds to each stage range from beautiful to stunning with very few ‘bad eggs’ to spoil things. With the whole ‘painting’ theme running through the whole game it’s quite fitting how the levels look like pieces of art themselves. It’s bright, it’s colourful, and it all moves as smooth as silk without the slightest hind of any slowdown. The music, while not as impressive as the visuals, fit the game well. As expected with a Kirby game it is full of chirpy tunes to hum along to.

Being a Kirby game it comes of little surprise that it’s the difficulty and length that are the games biggest downfalls. There are a few levels that offer a stern challenge, but these are too few and far between. Additionally, the game is a little on the short side with only just over 20 levels, few of which are notably time-consuming. The ‘Rainbow Run’ modes add value, as do the unlockable mini games and boss encounters, but I’d swap all of this for more levels in an instant. In saying that, the game does appear to be running out of ideas towards the end. While classic 2D platformers like Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario Bros. 3 produce new ideas throughout the game, Canvas Curse does resort to reusing a lot of earlier ideas later in the game. It by no means damages the game as a whole, it just ultimately prevents it achieving the same high praise those two aforementioned games are known for.
The Score
A great addition to the Kirby legacy, and another top quality title for the DS’s library. It may not have the lifespan or the consistency of ideas that the highest caliber 2D platformers contain, but with its unique design and control system there’s no denying it’s a fun game in its own right. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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8 years ago
Nice review.

My copy of the game arrived earlier this week but it's still sealed and waiting to be played with. Too many games...
8 years ago
7.5's too high a lifespan score for the description it was given (which I agree with ... I haven't played my imported version for a while). Something closer to 5 would be better IMHO.

Great review, agree with it totally icon_smile.gif
Last boss was excellent, wish there were more "normal" bosses like that.

The Paint Roller minigame is great fun too icon_lol.gif It kept me playing on Level 3 until I got AAA rank icon_biggrin.gif
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