I'm not a big fan of the colour pink, being the manly man I am. Regardless of this fact, I am a huge fan of Kirby. The little pink fluffball's games are always entertaining to play, even if a couple of them are way too short or easy. Heck, even his show isn't too bad considering that it doesn't feature nearly enough of the pink marshmallow and instead focuses mainly on the characters who's names aren't in the title. So if I hate pink so much, why is the page drenched in it?
Pretty stupid question, but it gives me some time to type in filler and think up some pertinent things to type. Firstly, it's all pink because I'm reviewing a damned Kirby game. Secondly, pink goes really well with other pinks, so the rivers of rose flow very smoothly together. And on a side note, I'd like to direct your attention to the top of the page, where as you can see, I've changed the look a little. Works better with image-based backgrounds this way. And it looks a lot better overall too, but back to the review!
I'll start by saying this: Kirby Canvas Curse is without a doubt the best Kirby game since Kirby Super Star back on the SNES. Yeah, that's right. Anyone who might follow the exploits of the pink wonder would know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, KSS is the greatest Kirby game ever, and that title is suddenly being challenged. While Canvas Curse fails to topple the reigning king, it certainly comes close. Want to know why? Read on. If you don't care, read on anyways. You know you've got nothing better to do.
Firstly, Kirby Canvas Curse is incredibly fun. And it's very simple to boot. Making Kirby fly all over the place and screwing around with some of the different powers can be fun enough to while away the hours while not actually accomplishing anything. I find it very similar to Super Mario Sunshine in that I can just play around in the levels and never actually make any progress in the game. Games like this are rare and are easily my favourites.
The premise of the game is pretty standard-issue for Kirby games in that it's simple and shallow, but does stray a bit from the usual "King DeDeDe/Dark Matter is out to cause trouble" routine. In this game, a new enemy appears to make life hard for our hero. As it goes, Kirby was just sitting around and then this witch came out of nowhere and turned the world into a painting. Kirby tries to stop her, but is quickly turned into a useless ball. The witch flutters away, leaving her magic paintbrush, which Kirby touches and somehow manages to send to you. Thus, you have the paintbrush (stylus) and can draw stuff all over the world. And then it's off to fight the witch! No plot twists or anything. A perfect story for a Kirby game.
So you've got this "paintbrush", and you're in charge of helping Kirby save the world. How does this work? Easy. Kirby, as a ball, will just roll around on his own. Pretty useless. This is where you come in. Drawing on the touch screen will produce a rainbow that Kirby will follow and use to gain some speed. This is how you get him places. Need to get up a ledge? Draw a ramp. Need to cross a pit? Draw a bridge. And so forth. Tapping Kirby will make him to a dash attack, which is his primary defense against enemies. the second line of defense is you, as you can poke enemies to stun them so Kirby can finish them off without the aid of a touch-dash. And that's the basics. You can also draw a loop to make Kirby dash and get a huge speed boost. Such a maneuver is rarely necessary, but fun to use nonetheless.
As always, Kirby can use his characteristic enemy copy ability to acquire the powers of his foes. Only now, he doesn't have to ability to inhale them, so it only takes a body slam to steal powers. There are some really fun powers to play around with, like Wheel, Missile and the new Balloon power, but others like Spark and Stone can be more cumbersome than you might like. In the end, you will have to make use of every power to solve some tricky puzzles and find all the secret items, just like in previous games.
The game itself is about average length, being composed of seven worlds (each containing three levels) and the final boss level. wile you may be able to burn through the main game in three hours or less, depending on how quickly you pick up on the controls, that is simply an appetizer for all the crap there is to do in this game. And don't get me wrong, the main game is plenty interesting on it's own, and even offers a good amount of challenge, not usually seen in Kirby games, but there is so much beyond it that you might be surprised at how much there actually is to accomplish in the game.
First off, each level contains three hidden medals. Some are simply a little ways off the beaten path, perhaps hidden in an alcove near the top of the screen. Others might be behind a wall that con only be broken by a certain copy ability. Others yet might require you to go a long ways off your path and hit numerous switches, and solve some complex puzzles. And lastly, some are locked behind giant doors that can only be opened by hitting a switch later in the game (similar to the Switch Palaces of Super Mario World). Getting to all these medals is no easy task, and that's still only about the half of it.
After you've finished to main game, you're given the ability to unlock new character balls to play through as. While you don't have to, completing the game with each of the four unlockable characters will net you even more medals, so it's highly recommended. Not only that, but each new ball has it's own play style. The Waddle Dee ball, for instance, is really bouncy and you have to adjust your style of play to incorporate its erratic springiness. The DeDeDe ball, on the other hand, is huge and slow. If nothing else, it provides a bit of an incentive to play through as all five characters.
I'm not even close to done here, so stay strapped in, fools. Once you manage to muddle your way through each world, you'll unlock its Rainbow Run variant. Rainbow Run offers not one, but two new challenges for you. First, you get the standard Time Trial mode, in which you have to clear one room of each level in a certain amount of time. Then there's the evil Line Trial, where your goal is to clear a different room from each level using only so much paint. While Time Trial only requires practice, Line Trial makes you perfect using only tiny ramps and has you trying endlessly to figure out where exactly to put those lines. Each trial mode has three "difficulty levels", and will award you with medals based on your performance.
So what exactly are you gathering up all of these medals for? Later. I have to explain the boss modes! After you've cleared the last stage of each world, you get to challenge one of three bosses; Kracko, Paint Roller, Or King DeDeDe. Each boss presents a dramatically different challenge and has two difficulty levels. Kracko's game if reminiscent of Kirby's Block Ball in that you must bounce Kirby around a stage with a paddle, breaking blocks and defeating enemies until you finally face Kracko in a nube-a-melcocha battle. King DeDeDe will challenge you to a mine cart race which is very similar to the "Gourmet Race" mini-game featured in Kirby Super Star. Lastly, the Paint Roller's challenge is a tough (due to oversensitivity) game of connect-the-dots that ends with a simple "tap the blinking panels" test of speed and accuracy. The boss games aren't overly difficult during the story mode, but once you've beaten the Lv2 game, you can play it from the Sub-Game menu, where it gets really hard. Particularly the Paint Roller game. But doing well in these sub-games will earn you (you guessed it) medals, so they're worth the effort.
And now that I've listed out all of the different ways of getting these coveted medals, I think I'm due for an explaination of why they're so important to collect. You see, medals are essentially your currency for buying unlockables. That one was pretty obvious, but what they unlock might surprise you. Goods come in all shapes and sizes, from music for your sound test, to heart containers for Kirby to a couple of the character balls. There are even different paint schemes to change the colour of your rainbows (though they suck, the default rainbow is easily the best), and some unlockable ability challenge stages (which can be aced to earn even more medals). One really neat item will replace all the music in the game to the music from Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland. Kind of a downgrade (the music in Canvas Curse rocks), but it's a novel idea.
So how are the production values? Graphics, for starters, are excellent. While the amount of animation isn't quite up to par with that of Kirby's GBA adventures, it's still quite fluid and reminds you of what masterpieces devoted artists can do with 2D graphics. The backgrounds are beautiful as well, and each different type of stage has its own style, from a black and white mechanical theme to pastel hillsides to a comic-inspired city, each level is extremely diverse as far as scenery goes. Just take a look at the screenshots.
The music for the game is just phenomenal. While it's composed almost entirely of Nightmare in Dreamland remixes (which are, in turn, Kirby's Adventure remixes), most of them are so different that you might not even notice it's the same song until a single familiar bar plays. Some of them are just so out-there that they heavily incorporate sound effects, like cell-phone beeps and the like. Sound effects are pretty minimal and don't have the traditional Nintendo fortune of voice clips (take that as you like), but they get the job done and are pretty convincing. I mean, you can't really goof the sound of a lightning bolt or a tire burning rubber.
Duh. The gameplay rocks. Like I said, it's fun enough to just mess around for hours. Add that and the enjoyable story mode, plus the almost-infuriating Time and Line Trials, and the mini-games, the four extra character balls, and the really neat final boss battle, and you've got quite a winner. It lacks multiplayer, but for such an excellent single-player experience, I'm willing to overlook that. The only real flaw in the game is trying to navigate Kirby underwater. You have to draw a line to keep him submerged, and while it might not sound so hard, it can be a real bitch when you're trying to complete some of the Time Trials. That aside, everything is great about this game. If Kirby were a more popular franchise, Kirby Canvas Curse would sell DS units. Easily.
I know that there's probably something I've forgotten to mention, but I don't know... Oh yes. There are two things that bother me. There is absolutely no music on the title screen. Absolute silence. That and there's no neat little interactive thing on said title screen. Super Mario 64 DS had the drawing thing, WarioWare: Touched! was full of things to poke and prod, and even Feel the Magic XY/XX lets you play with the mic. But nothing on the Canvas Curse. Oh well. Little issues aside, the game is an A++ fo shizzle. If you own a Nintendo DS, this is well worth your moneys. Even better, import the Japanese version and get a pink stylus! Nintendo totally owes me for not including it in the NA version...
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Note: (it's obvious, but for the sake of good jounalism) all pics stolen from Planet GameCube.