Kirby: Canvas Curse is an early Nintendo DS game involving the HAL Laboratory mascot Kirby. It takes advantage of the DS's touchscreen with a game mechanic that involves drawing a route for Kirby to follow, twisting up and around enemies and obstacles. The game was released in Europe as Kirby's Power Paintbrush and in Japan as Touch! Kirby.
The game would eventually be followed with a 2015 spiritual sequel for the Wii U, which was also built around the Wii U's GamePad touchscreen controls: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.
In Kirby: Canvas Curse, all is good in Kirby's home of Dream Land, until a portal appears out of the sky. Out of the portal emerges a witch named Drawcia, who casts a spell on Dream Land, converting Dream Land entirely into paint. Kirby chases Drawcia into the portal, where the witch casts another spell, this time upon Kirby. The spell takes away Kirby's arms, legs, and even his power to suck up enemies, leaving him nothing more than a ball. The player is left to help Kirby defeat Drawcia, using an enchanted brush to draw rainbows across on which Kirby can ride in order to reach Drawcia, destroy her spell upon Dream Land, and restore things back to normal.
Kirby: Canvas Curse, a two-dimensional side-scrolling platformer, came out early in the lifespan of the Nintendo DS. It was one of the first games that made almost exclusive use of the stylus (save for the Start button, which could be used for Pausing) which is used to draw rainbows for Kirby to ride. Kirby is propelled in the direction the rainbows are drawn; drawing loops accelerates his propulsion.
The player is provided with a set amount of ink--which recharges fairly quickly--with which to draw rainbows. As such, they are prevented from drawing infinitely long rainbows.
Combat relies on tapping with the stylus. Tapping on many enemies stuns them, after which Kirby can simply bowl them over. Defeating many types of stunned enemies results in Kirby consuming their powers, such as hurtling forth as a fireball or spraying electric sparks in every direction.
The game also features spring boards (reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog) and teleportation devices. The stages both present some simple puzzles and a challenge to players' speed and reaction skills. The gameplay starts off simple and relaxed enough, but increases in both difficulty and complexity--more precarious ledges, new and unfamiliar obstacles, et al--later on.
To the right is a screenshot of the full Kirby: Canvas Curse layout. The top screen offers a map which gives the player a bigger picture of the level in which they're currently playing. The pink dot represents Kirby; the gold arch on the right is the door to the next level. The black bar on the bottom of the top shows that the player is almost out of rainbow ink. Right above it is Kirby's hit-point meter, which can be expanded as they earn medals and unlock bonuses in the Medal Swap mode. The player can also see how many lives and star Kirby currently has. Collect 100 stars, and they're awarded with a 1up.
The Art Style
Kirby: Canvas Curse utilizes a unique 2D art style that mimics watercolor paintings--hence the name Canvas Curse. The game keeps a bright pastel color palette, and has interesting transitions. Each of the 8 levels has a different motif such as a forest stage, future town (as pictured), an ice stage, and other platformer staples. The different level settings provide enough variety to keep the game fresh.
Additional Gameplay Modes
Kirby: Canvas Curse features additional gameplay modes on top of the main quest.
The Rainbow Road mode allows the player to revisit each stage in the game in a different manner than that of the main game mode--provided they have unlocked said stages with the medals they have earned. Each of the stages allows the player to earn up to six medals (three per sub-mode) as follows:
- Time Trial: This sub-mode requires the player to get from their starting point to the exit as quickly as possible, and by any means necessary. It judges the player on nothing but how long it takes. There are three benchmark times to beat, with each time counting for an additional medal. (In other words, if they manage to make it to the exit faster than the quickest benchmark on their first try, they get all three possible medals instantly.)
- Line Trial: This sub-mode requires the player to get from the starting point to the exit by drawing as little as possible. They are given a large "ink bucket" with which to draw (that depletes as the player draws, naturally), and they are judged on how much ink they have left by the time they reach the exit. The solution often lies in absorbing powers around Kirby and being intimately familiar with Kirby's physics to propel him the farthest distance with the smallest amount of ink.
The Subgame mode allows the player to partake in diversions that mimic the Boss Encounters from the main game. Scoring an "A" rank or above in each game results in a medal.
- Block Attack: This Subgame has the player breaking bricks, Arkanoid-style, by drawing launching pads for Kirby to bounce off of. Along the way, Kirby will have to avoid and/or defeat enemy critters who line the alley.
- Cart Run: This Subgame has Kirby racing against King Dedede in a mine cart, which the player steers by guiding a marker up or down with the stylus. The player will need to avoid obstacles such as spikes and enemies while guiding Kirby into fruit bonuses, which increase his speed.
- Paint Panic: This Subgame has Kirby playing a more frenetic, involved version of what is basically Connect-the-Dots, following what the "artist" draws. Each miss will send an enemy closer and closer to Kirby. Passing this section thrusts Kirby into a final segment where the player has to tap flashing blocks as quickly as possible.