Kirby Canvas Curse Nintendo DS Review
The Nintendo DS has had quite a successful launch, all things considered. It’s sold well in all territories and has many gamers excited at the prospect of things to come. But that’s also the problem…things to come. Whilst there have been some good DS titles released, none have yet blown us away, nor shown that the touch screen is anything more than a gimmick. Nintendo hinted at things to come with Pac Pix and Yoshi’s Touch and Go, but there wasn’t a lot of substance to go with the ideas.
Well, the accusations of releasing ‘glorified tech demos’ has clearly hurt the Big N. Their answer comes in surprising form…Kirby. Yep, that’s little pink round Kirby, who has starred in some decent games but has always lived in the shadow of Mario and Link. Kirby has never been one to lead the way for Nintendo…until now!
Kirby’s new game is Kirby Canvas Curse and, right from the beginning, I’m thrilled to be able to say…..YES!! This is more like it!! This is what the Nintendo DS is really about!!
The story, which is minimal in importance, is that Kirby confronted an evil witch who was doing a lot of damage around the place. She placed a curse on Kirby, and turned him into a ball. Luckily for Kirby, though, in her haste to escape, she dropped a magical paintbrush. Even luckier, it fell right into your hands, and you’re in just the right mood to help Kirby get his revenge.
Kirby is pink…very pink. This really sets the tone for a game that is filled with bright and colourful characters and environments. The graphics in Canvas Curse are very, very good, easily the best I have yet seen on the DS. They are very clean and crisp and oh so colourful! The characters move along nicely and there are some neat special effects going on when Kirby unleashes some of his stolen powers (more later). The DS is never going to blow us away with its textures and anti-aliasing, but with games like this it doesn’t matter. It looks lovely….and that’s certainly enough for me.
Oh yeah, baby. That’s how you feel when you get your first hands on with Kirby Canvas Curse. There is no d-pad or button control here, this game is played exclusively with the stylus, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The stylus acts as the magic paintbrush which, as we have said, was dropped by the evil witch. With this in hand, you are ready to help manoeuvre Kirby around the game world to get his own back on her.
The controls are as intuitive as you could possibly hope for. Without your intervention, Kirby rolls along at quite a sedate pace. However, he has no way of managing heights, or drops, and this is where you come in. With the stylus, you can create rainbow paths for Kirby to follow, helping him up to higher levels or avoiding him falling to an untimely end. He will move in the direction you draw the path, making it possible to have him move in either direction. The game is strictly in 2D and this works very well. You can also use the stylus to touch an enemy, momentarily stunning them. If Kirby rolls into them whilst stunned, he will kill that enemy. You can also touch Kirby himself, making him do a dash attack, very useful for taking out lines of multiple enemies. If a vanquished enemy has a special power, Kirby will steal this power. From that point on, if you touch Kirby, he will unleash this power. These range from laser beams, to needle attacks, to rockets, to turning Kirby into a stone to pound his enemies. A quick second touch on Kirby will return him to his normal self. You can also ditch a power at any time, if you don’t want to use it or you want to pick up another one.
This combination of controls makes for some fast and furious gameplay and it’s certainly a whole lot of fun.
The game is split into worlds, each with 3 extended levels. In each, you must guide Kirby to the goal. There are multiple paths to take, though, meaning you will never complete a level in the same way twice. There are also medals to collect in each level. These can be used to buy unlockables like extra characters with differing abilities. Following 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.
The game is played completely on the touch screen. The top screen has a map and information like how many lives you have left. The map is extremely useful for finding the medals, some of which are in devilishly difficult places to reach.
This is Kirby and this is Nintendo. No prizes, then, for guessing that the sound is made up of a lot of memorably chirpy tunes. The music here is excellent for the most part, and I suspect you will be more than happy to leave it on.
Sound effects are also top class, especially those used to accompany the powers Kirby will use. In a nice touch, you can also listen to all tunes and sounds in the sound test in the main menu.
This is a substantial game, make no mistake about it. There are many different worlds and even more levels. Getting to the goal in each is only one objective. You must also collect all available medals in the main game.
Within the menu, there are also other tasks to try. Rainbow Run is the most significant of these. You can choose two types of run through levels you have completed in the main game. The first sees you trying to reach the goal in the shortest possible time, the second sees you trying to reach the goal using the least possible ink from your magic brush. These are great fun and more than just a momentary diversion. All in all, I think you’re looking at upwards of 20 hours to see all that this game has to offer. Even then, you’ll return to beat your best scores, or run through the game again with one of the secret unlockable characters.
Kirby Canvas Curse is brilliant. HAL have built on the ideas from earlier titles and have moulded them into a fully fledged platform game. What’s more, this game could categorically not be done on any other platform. HAL has shown us exactly what it meant by saying they would give us new ways to enjoy games. Hopefully, other developers will learn from HAL and follow suit in bringing us games with new control mechanisms and a lot of substance.
This game is not available in Europe until late in the year, Do yourself a favour and visit the nearest import site right now. Go on…now…..go!!