Kirby Canvas Curse is the perfect marriage of a handheld game and a touch-sensitive screen. The power of the touch screen has been hinted at with games such as Pac-Pix and Yoshi's Touch and Go but Canvas Curse has finally got it right. This game just wouldn't be the same without it.

Kirby has been changed into a legless, rotund, ball due to the canvas curse. Using nothing but the touch screen, you move him around various environments avoiding traps, knocking out enemies and searching for the three bronze coins hidden in each level. Although it may sound like the formula for every adventure/platformer ever invented the use of the touch controls and the interaction with each level is truly unique. There's no filler and even locating the three coins in each level has some significance to the gameplay other than a make-work feature.

Kirby is controlled by touching him. If you tap him, he will pick up speed and travel in the direction that he's pointed. He will gain momentum so that he'll be able to roll up mountains and over other obstacles. When he enters boost mode he can run right into enemies and knock them out. The only other way to neutralize enemies is to tap them on the head and run into them temporarily stunning them.

By using the stylus you can draw rainbow paths in the air that Kirby will follow. The paths have to be drawn somewhat correctly to be followed properly but it won't take long to acquire that skill. Horizontal lines will also have to be drawn to stop Kirby from rolling off of cliffs. These lines will also protect him from projectiles and heavy winds as well as other dangerous elements that you will encounter. Each level is rich in interaction and you have to keep your eyes open to plan your next move.

Power-ups give you more control. You can shoot sparks in all directions, turn into a tire and mow everything down in your path or become a bubble and float your way over traps to safety. More abilities can be unlocked when you collect all of the coins.

Instead of the typical boss battles, you will play mini-games. There is no multi-player mode to extend the replay value but you can replay the levels in Time Trial and try to get through them faster and faster. Another mode is the Line Trial which gives you a limited amount of paint in which to construct paths and protective lines.

Graphically the game looks good although it's only 2D. It's bright, colorful and the characters are large and easy to see. The music is catchy and perfectly fits the "cute" Kirby characterization that is aimed at a primarily younger demographic.

At last Nintendo has finally proven that the touch screen is more than a novelty or a substitute for button controllers. Hopefully the future of the system will continue to evolve and keep us from getting any more jaded.

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System: DS
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Mar 2005
Players: 1
Review By Shelby