Will this be the last time I have to type ver. 1.22474487139...? There are so many numbers, please save me from the numbers, I'm so scared of the numbers.
For years now, I’ve been quietly praying for Nintendo to release a sequel to the classic DS game Kirby: Canvas Curse. While the game was both a fan favorite and critically acclaimed, as the years went on I lost all hope that my favorite entry in the series would ever get a follow-up. Then Nintendo surprised me and many other fans when they announced that they were hard at work on a new claymation-inspired sequel nearly ten years later! My initial reaction was ecstatic enthusiasm, followed by a sprinkle of healthy skepticism that this sequel could live up to the hype. Having played through it from beginning to end, I can safely say that this game most definitely deserves your attention.
The game starts with Kirby and his pals enjoying a relaxing afternoon in Dreamland, which quickly gets interrupted when all of the color is drained out of the world, freezing everyone in place. Thankfully, a paintbrush girl named Elline flies in and returns both color and motion to Kirby and his bandanna-sporting Waddle Dee friend, who team up and save her from the literal clutches of two large disembodied hands. The trio then unites to return the stolen color back to Dreamland and defeat the evil force behind it. While the basic plot is simple, the game slightly expands on it through collectable diary entries as well, giving a little more backstory to barebones plot through adorable doodles.
If there’s one word I would use to describe this opening cutscene, it would be “cute”, and this pervasive cuteness never lets up through the entire adventure. The unique claymation aesthetic only further enhances the already natural cuteness one usually finds in a Kirby game, oozing nonstop cuteness out of its little clay pours. I’d even go as far as saying that this might be the cutest game in the entire series, which is really saying something when you’re talking about a franchise as well known for being adorable as Kirby. The lovingly crafted clay worlds are filled with adorable enemies both familiar and new. The game features collectible statuettes of the games many characters and enemies that show off the amazing amount of detail that went into each in-game model. I sometimes found myself looking over these figurines for extended periods of time, just admiring how well they were made.
The game’s visuals are accompanied by some amazing audio. While it can be easy to gloss over something like music in a game where the visuals are such a main event, the tunes that play through every level only further enhances the game’s already sizable charm. You can also collect and unlock remixes of songs from previous games to listen to and enjoy in the game’s “Music Room” while Kirby jiggles along to the songs. I’ve been listening to and enjoying these songs while writing this very review!
Of course, behind all the clay and paint is a game that’s intended to be a successor to Canvas Curse. It controls just like the previous game, having you use a stylus to paint paths for Kirby to travel on instead of directly controlling his movement. This time around, Kirby hasn’t been turned into a ball, but instead rolls around by choice, with his limbs curled up tightly but still visible to the player. This kind of control scheme isn’t for everyone, but it’s executed well in this game and won’t turn off any people who liked it in the first one.
The game also features asynchronous multiplayer to appease those turned off by Rainbow Curse’s standard control scheme, allowing up to four players to assist Kirby as multi-colored Waddle Dees. They control in a manner similar to the way Kirby does in his normal games, allowing them to assist Kirby by carrying him and throwing spears at enemies. There’s some exclusive content for multiplayer, but nothing that a single player will feel cheated out of.
The level design takes a bit of a different approach compared to its DS predecessor, with a more straightforward and linear structure to the average level, though they still feature secrets peppered throughout. One big difference between the two games are the powers, or rather, lack thereof. Following in the footsteps of Epic Yarn, another charming and artistic entry in the series, Kirby is unable to use his signature copy abilities in this game. Instead, he is able to an extra powerful dash attack that destroys almost anything in his path by collecting 100 stars.
Some levels allow Kirby to transform into various vehicle forms, another aspect borrowed from Epic Yarn. These levels are executed with mixed success. The touch-only controls that work well with basic Kirby are less than stellar on other his other forms. Both the tank and the sub would have definitely benefitted from being able to use the d-pad alongside touch controls. The levels themselves are almost entirely linear, usually employing auto-scroll to keep things moving. Another borrowed aspect that works against this game is repeat boss fights, the one thing from Canvas Curse that this game would have been better off dropping. It’s not a huge issue, but there’s definitely something disappointing about playing through a cloudy sky world thinking you’re going to fight a clay version of Kracko at the end, only to discover that you’ll be going up against Whispy Woods again but this time with a coat of metal paint slathered on his bark.
With the exception of the Waddle Dees in multiplayer, Kirby is the only playable character this time around. While a few of the unlockable characters from Canvas Curse make cameos as collectable figurines, that’s the extent of their appearance this time around. Bonus content in general is on the light side this time around, with most hidden treasure chests being easy to find. The challenge mode, while a fun little distraction, doesn’t do too much interesting in the end. While the main gameplay more than satisfies, things still feel a bit lighter on extras compared to its predecessor.
In the end, despite a few missteps, this game still stands out as a good sequel to a great game. While I wouldn’t rate it above the original, it definitely stands out on its own as a great game that is more than worth the $40 price tag. Whether you’re a fan of the series or just need something cute in your life, I would definitely recommend you pick this one up. Here’s hoping we get another sequel, hopefully sooner this time.