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Platform

DS

 

Genre

Platformer / Puzzle

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

HAL Labs

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

June 13, 2005

 

- Strangely engrossing

- Some levels can be a solid challenge

- A different take on platforming

- Best use of the touchscreen to date

 

 

- A few really challenging areas

 

 

Review: Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland (GBA)

Review: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo DS)

Review: Super Mario Advance 2 (Gameboy Advance)

 

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Kirby: Canvas Curse

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Unlike the puzzle-centric Yoshi’s Touch & Go, Kirby: Canvas Curse (KCC) is a tried and true platformer from beginning to end, with definite goals, secrets to find and boss battles.

 

Like the previous Kirby games, featuring a pink blob that can utilize the abilities of certain enemies for his own use, KCC puts you in control of the titular Kirby.  However, this time out you have very limited direct control over Kirby and all of the game is played with the touchscreen.  The new menace of Dreamland has turned the world into a painting and in the process transformed Kirby into a ball.  There’s no jump in the traditional platforming vein, instead you draw rainbows.

 

And no, I’m not kidding.  Rainbows.

 

kirby-canvas-curse-1.jpg (45359 bytes)         kirby-canvas-curse-2.jpg (47217 bytes)

 

With the stylus, Kirby can be tapped for a burst of forward motion, then a rainbow line quickly drawn to help him up to higher platforms or block lasers and balls of lava to guide him safely to the goal.  The stylus is also used to stun enemies (by tapping them) for a quick kill or activating switches or crumbling blocks in Kirby’s way.  To the credit of the team at HAL Labs, there’s hardly a second goes by without constant re-evaluation of where he’s headed as he pinballs his way to the end of the level.  And just when you think you have a handle on things, the next level can be a dramatic departure from the previous one.

 

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There are lava levels where Kirby has to avoid touching the walls, floor and ceiling.  And thanks to the fact he has a limited paint supply to draw the rainbows – it regenerates over time – it makes some levels a real challenge.  That is, unless you manage your power-ups effectively, which can go a long way to easing Kirby’s way through the world.

 

Water levels become less of a challenge if Kirby has grabbed the ability to turn into a stone.

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Kirby is a very good at floating but the water levels force Kirby to move underwater.  Tapping Kirby when he has the ability to turn into stone allows him to drop, otherwise there’s a lot of creative rainbow drawing and tapping Kirby for speed to force him further down against his buoyant tendencies. (The stone ability can also be used to smash through stacked blocks, which would otherwise have to be tapped to be smashed.)

 

The visual canvas of this Kirby title is great.  While the upper screen is used largely as a map (a life-saver when the lights go out), the lower screen is usually awash in color.  The screen scrolls smoothly and the backgrounds are wonderfully varied.

 

kirby-canvas-curse-3.jpg (45228 bytes)        kirby-canvas-curse-4.jpg (40932 bytes)

 

Plus, it’s all very straightforward.  There are hidden areas to find, but the obvious way is never left in doubt and objects are easy to spot.  Everything tends to be big and bright.

 

Kirby Canvas Curse may be the best use of the DS touchscreen to date.  Even better the game is an engaging experience from start to finish, including the mini-games and boss battles.  It’s a “must have” title for DS owners and fans of platforming games.  It’s not without its moments of frustration as the challenge does ramp up quite a bit towards the end, but the rewarding experience far outweighs any frustration.

 

- Omni

(July 6, 2005)

 

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