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Joystiq presents

Gaming to Go: Kirby: Canvas Curse (p2)

As previously mentioned, one of the main draws of Canvas Curse's gameplay mechanics is the exclusive use of the stylus. You won't use a single button during the course of the game to manipulate your character, a completely risky move that frankly can make or break a DS game. Where other developers have gone completely off track, however, HAL Laboratory nails the control scheme effortlessly, turning what already would have been an interesting platformer into an excellent one.

You'll use the stylus to stun enemies, boost Kirby forward, and draw ramps and walls, all with the intention of rolling Kirby from point A to point B. A multitude of enemies and environmental hazards mix things up nicely, forcing you to use quick strokes of the stylus to keep the pink ball from harm. The stylus is ideal for this kind of control scheme, and the way such a simple scheme enhances the core gameplay is evident by the first few levels of the game.

The number of levels, additionally, cannot be ignored. Kirby titles characteristically are considered short games, and while Canvas Curse isn't a true exception to the rule, you'll need to sink a good twenty hours or more into it if you hope to unlock every single secret. The main adventure levels won't last nearly that number, but if you're one of those crazy completionist types, you'll find an incredible amount of things to do. And even if you're not, you can still have a blast working through the levels themselves, as most are just short and interesting enough to be ideal for a pleasant burst of gaming.

Another way to entertain yourself is to try and collect all of the medals. 250 of them are scattered throughout the game, a total which will require you to find every medal in every level and then work your way through the subgames, line trials, and time trials. Some of Canvas Curse's most entertaining experiences come from those time trials, where you'll have to find a way to push Kirby from one end of the level to another in the shortest time possible. These sorts of challenges are clearly well-suited for gaming on the go, especially since a fair number of the levels have time limits of five minutes or less.

Even if you aren't the completionist type, however, you'll still find plenty to do in Canvas Curse, especially if you stick solely with the main adventure. It'll take you through around twenty-five colorful levels, with boss fights -- the aforementioned subgames -- occurring regularly. Those three subgames provide a pleasant diversion from the main adventure, challenging you to use your stylus skills in new ways -- explosive connect the dots comes to mind -- to lead Kirby to victory. It's unfortunate that only three subgames are available, but the differering difficulty levels for each make playing through them again worthwhile. The subgames also last about as long as your typical level, making them equally ideal for quick gaming.

As you might have already guessed, however, both the time trials and subgames aren't immediately available for quick play. You'll have to work your way through the main adventure to unlock them, or, in some cases, earn enough medals to purchase the ability to play them freely. It's an unfortunate thing for anyone wanting to just jump in and see everything the game has to offer, but the main adventure is fun enough that playing through it is easily recommendable.

Gaming to Go!

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