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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
HAL Laboratory
GENRE: Platformer
June 13, 2005
Kirby's Epic Yarn

Kirby Super Star Ultra

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

Kirby's Avalanche

Kirby's Dream Course

More in this Series
 Written by Dave Hulick  on August 04, 2005

Review: Quite possibly the happiest pink blob you'll ever meet.

You don't know, do you? There is no fun to guiding a pink, limbless blob through a world that looks like it was ripped out of a poorly drawn children's book. Especially when you can use nothing but your ?Magical Paintbrush? to do so. Or is there? Kirby: Canvas Curse probably doesn't look very appealing to someone who has better things to do than roll a handicapped hero around, but this title has turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and especially innovative platforming titles to be released for any system in a long time.

When Nintendo released Yoshi Touch & Go earlier this year, many gamers fell in love with the original, new style of gameplay. Yet, with no adventure mode or story-structure, Touch & Go's innovative use of the touch screen left many gamers clamoring for a more complete title using the same mechanics. Nintendo answered their cries with Kirby: Canvas Curse, which as you may have guessed, builds on top of the gameplay found in Touch & Go. You must use your stylus to influence where Kirby will roll, stun enemies, open doors, and do just about anything but directly control Kirby himself. Sounds challenging you say? Well, it's about time Nintendo made a Kirby game difficult!

Kirby: Canvas Curse doesn't change many traditional platforming elements. You still venture around levels collecting stars, flipping switches, and killing badguys on your way to the level's end, but even these menial tasks are a blast thanks to the control method. Fortunately, Canvas Curse relies on much more than the touch screen to make this game worth playing. There are enough secrets, unlockables, and extras to be found to satisfy even the most seasoned platform guru. You can collect medals throughout the level and use them at the Medal Swap. Here, medals can be swapped for new challenges, characters, or even the entire soundtrack of Kirby: A Nightmare in Dreamland.

Even when you reach the end of one level, it's not complete. Each stage you complete is unlocked in the Rainbow Run. In here, players are challenged to either the Time Trial or Line Trial modes. The Time Trial mode has you racing the end of the level against a very strict clock, whereas the Line Trial mode limits the amount of rainbow you can draw in the level. As a reward, players receive a certain number of medals based on how well they complete the task. These modes truly add an incredible amount of depth to the game and are amazingly fun.

The boss battles in Canvas Curse stretch the very meaning of the phrase ?boss battle? itself. At the end of each world, you must choose one of three boss mini-battles to complete. In these battles, players have their ink replaced with rubber, are challenged to a race by King DeDeDe, or are required to play a timed game of connect-the-dots while Kirby is chased by enemies. The only drawback here is that there are only three different boss battles to choose from, and seven worlds to complete. Of course, the eighth and final world ends in a different boss battle, but requiring players to play through the same battle twice is a very poor design choice.

Of course, what is a Kirby game without some sort of ability stealing system? After all, gaining the power of his enemies is the little pink blob's signature move. Stunning an enemy and rolling Kirby into it will cause Kirby to gain a special attack from that enemy. This attack can then be used to assault enemies or open up secrets in the level.Kirby can only have one special attack at a time, though. Tapping a small icon in the bottom left of the touch screen will discard the current power and leave Kirby available for another.

Unfortunately, the developers decided to omit any sort of multiplayer or wireless connectivity from Kirby: Canvas Curse. It almost feels unfair complaining about such an exclusion while the single-player portion is so jam packed full of content, but the potential for seriously fun co-op or battle gameplay is just too great to ignore. It's surprising to see such a pivotal title for the DS leave out such a feature, but alas, there is no multiplayer to be found.

Considering that it is a title about rainbows and a pink-colored hero, Canvas Curse has appropriately bright and cheery visuals. Background images are sharp and decorative, but the 2D foreground sprites leave a little to be desired. Kirby and the various enemies are small and don't contain many frames of animation. On top of that, the level terrain is very flat looking. The graphics in Canvas Curse could easily be accomplished on the GBA, and they look right at home among other 16-bit platformers. While certainly not an ugly game, the visuals do not quite life up to the DS' potential.

Using the extra computing power left over from the unimpressive visuals, the developers were able to implement a very accurate and precise physics system. The steeper you draw a line, the slower Kirby will crawl up it. The collision detection is spot-on, especially when you realize just how bouncy that limbless little pink blob is. The physics add a whole feeling of fluidity and smoothness to an already tight control scheme.

Wrapping up the package is the sound and music, both of which are appropriately cheery. While there aren't many sound effects, everything fits well and simply sounds in-place. The music is catchy and cheery, but generally unmemorable. As a bonus, the soundtrack to Kirby: A Nightmare in Dreamland is included. Obviously, including one of the best Kirby soundtracks ever is a bonus, but it is only included as a hard-to-unlock extra.

Bottom Line
The Nintendo DS needs more titles like Kirby: Canvas Curse. Titles that implement innovative use of the touch screen, but also add depth and meaning. Don't pass up Canvas Curse for its lack of multiplayer or cheery visuals. You'll be missing one of the best titles to come out for the DS yet. This is highly recommended for gamers looking for a challenging old-school platforming game with an amazing new twist.

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