Review: Kirby Power Paintbrush
Posted 11 Jul 2005 at 01:45 by Jordan
The Nintendo DS so far hasn't had many platformers, unless you count somewhat lazy ports of Super Mario 64 and Rayman. However, HAL Laboratories have set out to create a new style of platforming with Kirby: Canvas Curse – and have not only raised the bar in terms of invention within the genre, but also proven how the touch screen can be used to create more than gimmicky side-games. Canvas Curse really does use the touch screen in such a profound and exciting way that it has already become my favourite DS game, outshining everything I have seen so far.
Although Kirby: Canvas Curse is a radically different game in terms of its gameplay, the story is pretty much the same. Someone has yet again come to ruin Dreamland and turn Kirby's friends against him this time in the form of an evil sorceress known as Drawcia. She has stripped Kirby of his arms and legs limiting his movement but meaning he can gain new moves such as dashing. However, this alone will not help Kirby. You must aid him using your stylus and dubbed in the game as The Magical Paintbrush. Using this oh-so-magic paintbrush you must help Kirby maneuver around the stages by helping him over ledges, stopping him in danger, blocking enemy attacks or reversing his direction. However, you do have an ink meter, once your ink has depleted it takes a while to refill in the air, so stopping on the ground for a couple of seconds whilst it replenishes is a must. All of this is done very easily and it's quite easy to pick up in the games tutorial. The paintbrush also has other abilities for example you can stun enemies so that Kirby isn't hurt when he attacks them or you can tap Kirby to make him dash to increase his speed to get up hills or kill enemies in his way.
Apart from the radically new control system, Kirby pretty much sticks firmly to its roots. Abilities are still present through out the game. There are new ones that replace old ones due to the new controls simply because they wouldn't or couldn't be fitted properly into the game without changing the way it was played. Although this is a good thing, I do miss sword Kirby. New abilities include missile where you guide Kirby using the paintbrush and he kills any enemy instantly and the balloon ability making it easier for Kirby to reach high places. The level system has been changed, in Kirby's last GBA adventure which wasn't that great, it integrated all the levels into one world with a central hub like Metroid Prime. In this game, you simply chose from one of the 8 worlds and from there select a level. The menus are very easy to understand and navigate through using the touch screen so you'll get used to this new system within seconds.
Despite Kirby usually being a short pick up and play ordeal, I've found myself playing through marathon sessions of this game (sometimes up to 5 hours) just to try unlock some of the goodies Kirby is hiding within its DS cart. Unlockables are obtained through collecting medals which are dotted around levels and through beating times in rainbow run time trails. There are 250 medals, so it's going to take a hell of a long time to get them all. So far I have 180 or so and I've been playing the game for almost 20 hours. So for once this means Kirby actually has replay value something extremely rare in the series.
However as with all games, it really isn't perfect. Some of the paintbrush controls can be I'll put it blunt, a pain in the arse. First off, navigating through the underwater stages is just so hard. Kirby as he is a ball has buoyancy so doesn't sink, you have to create "C shapes" with the paintbrush to make him dive or you can frantically tap Kirby to make him dash downwards however you can lead yourself for a nice meeting with some spikes in the process. Also its really quite easy to get stuck on walls, as stupid as its sounds a lot of people have commented on this rather large control flaw, sure it shouldn't let you pass through the levels corners but why not just slip you through it? Instead of just jarring still till your line disappears.
Kirby's graphics are fantastic from a 2D point of view. The top screen displays your lives, stars, the map and your life bar. This means all the clutter that would be on the bottom screen on previous GBA games has been removed. The touch screen graphics are only in 2D also, but some of the effects are really great. When you dash in the water bubbles rise and pop, the wheel ability leaves a blurry trail behind it and all the character sprites especially the final boss are all excellently presented.
Sound is another strong point in Kirby. Old tunes have been remixed to give them new feels to fit with the new levels. The music is very memorable especially some of the old music that you can unlock and listen to in sound test. The sound effects are also some of the best I've heard on the DS also. Kirby's old cries have been removed though which is something that I do miss. But the new ones do quite easily make up for it.
Kirby truly is an outstanding game. It just takes everything the DS can do, throws it together and makes it work. The controls, the level design and the presentation are astounding.
N-Europe Final Verdict
This really is the greatest platformer, if not the greatest game on the Nintendo DS. Its fun, its challenging and it will take you quite a long time to unlock everything. Do yourself a favour and import it now.
A truly enjoyable Kirby game
Some levels are a little hard