KIRBY: CANVAS CURSE / Nintendo / DS


Though the idea of drawing stuff directly on the screen has become commonplace after a decade of smartphones and tablets, this early release for the Nintendo DS was hailed as novel at the time. It basically re-imagines the concept of Lemmings in a way that features the DS stylus and Kirby World. The setup is some nonsense about Kirby getting trapped in a world of paintings by an evil witch, what it boils down to is that he's stuck as a ball gently rolling to the right at the outset of each level and you'll have to use the stylus to draw walls and platforms to guide him to safety.


You have a limited amount of ink that recharges only when you're in contact with the ground, so you can't just draw a ramp to go over the whole level. In addition to drawing platforms to steer Kirby and walls to turn him around and protect him from attacks, you can tap on a number of objects to make them disappear. You also need to tap enemies to stun them so that Kirby will kill them instead of taking damage when he makes contact with them. Enemies also have some of the usual Kirby powers that can be absorbed; when you have one, the dash that you usually get from tapping directly on Kirby is replaced and you can discard it when you no longer want it.


I feel like this game is going to be EXTREMELY hit or miss for players, and unfortunately it was a total whiff for me. It's an interesting idea on paper, but the way it was designed here is absolutely exasperating to play. Levels are a string of very quick reactions from the very beginning, and the control is just too imprecise to be up to snuff. For example, the screen loves to lurch suddenly just as you're trying to tap Kirby or an enemy. It's exactly what you would expect from one of the very first platformers to ever try using touch controls, with all sorts of little hinks like that that were not anticipated by the designers.

The physics rules about the rainbow walls are also weird and fussy. Kirby tends to stick and ride up the walls unless they're at an absolutely perfect 90 degree angle, which is too much for how often and how quick the levels require you to draw these things. Enemies all respawn instantly the second you've scrolled away from them, making all of this even more infuriating to deal with.


This game got nearly universal praise in its time, which I think was the usual case of gaming media becoming too taken with a shiny pre-smartphone novelty and falling into groupthink. I don't otherwise understand how so many people overlooked control with this level of Wonk to it.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video