Creative freedom has become an essential element of game design. Without it players are left following the path developer have set, and where is the fun in that? Worry not however; Kirby: Canvas Curse allows players to express themselves in ways you probably wouldn't expect. Forget roads and pathways - this time you'll be drawing your own routes of Technicolor paint with use of your stylus, with the help of a little creative thinking, of course.
In a strange turn of events, Kirby has been transformed into a ball and whisked into a new realm controlled by the villainess Drawcia. To gain control over matters, you can tap Kirby to give him some momentum. To unbind him from the earth, you can create paths of rainbow paint, which Kirby will roll along. Want to send Kirby flying? Draw a loop-de-loop and send the pink puff off in a rush of speed. Want to protect him from enemy projectiles? Draw a barrier and increase your life expectancy. There are a number of different drawing techniques you will need to master before it's all said and done, so don't expect this outing to be an easy one.
As usual, Kirby has the unique ability to steal his adversary's powers. This time it is accomplished by stunning your enemy by tapping it with your stylus, and simply sending Kirby on a collision course. Once a power is in tow, you can activate it by tapping Kirby. In addition to the usual fare there are some new abilities to be found, not to mention that returning powers will often have new twists. In previous games, these powers were often just for variance in defeating enemies, but in Canvas Curse they seem to be useful more so when navigating levels. A welcome change which adds a heavier emphasis on strategy rather than button mashing.
The main quest of Canvas Curse is split into several worlds, each containing three levels. Hidden within each level is a set of red coins, which can be spent on unlockable content. If you get bored of the main game you can turn to Rainbow Run mode, which sends you back to previously traveled ground in a new light, challenging you to finish with limited time or restricted paint consumption. The better your score, the more red coins you acquire. Once you have a decent cache of cash, you can empty your wallet on new levels, characters, music, and more. Bottom line: you won't have much opportunity to get bored here, Canvas Curse is packed to the gills with value.
The game is presented extremely well with a stylish look. Level backgrounds are varied, and often have a 'pencil and crayon' hand-drawn appearance. Character sprites are plump, colorful, and animate well. It's a big improvement over previous games and seems to take full advantage of the power of the DS platform. Some might argue that it aught to have been created on a 3D engine, running on a '2.5D' plain. However, considering the method of play and the amount of detail they were able to put into it as is, it's hard to imagine it any other way.
Another plus for this game is a superb soundtrack. As with most Kirby games, Canvas Curse borrows tunes from the library of tracks found from earlier games. Still, the remixes are excellent and have a unique and recognizable sound to them. Very seldom does a remake beat out the original, but most of these rethought tracks sound superior to their original iterations. The quality of the audio is also great, so feel free to grab your headphones. Canvas Curse is a treat for the ears as well as the eyes.
It's difficult to complain about a game this good. Everything is laid out in a near perfect package. If one was to nitpick, it could be argued that the touch screen exclusive controls can be frustrating at times. You don't get direct control over Kirby, so there's definitely a learning curve to navigating the environments. There is also a limit to your paint, and refilling will require you contacting solid ground. At times this can create tense situations. Added difficulty will be hit and miss depending on who you are. If you want a more challenging Kirby adventure, this is most certainly the one for you. Otherwise, you might be overwhelmed by some of the situations you find yourself in.
Kirby Canvas Curse is a game you will not want to miss. It was built from the ground up for the DS, and it shows. Everything takes full advantage of the hardware, and you will never feel like you've been short-changed. It is unconventional for a Kirby title but it's presented in such a fantastic way that even the most cold hearted gamers will be forced to smile as they watch Kirby cruise along rainbow colored paint trails. If you want to express your creativity, look no further.