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He rolls down stairs, but not in pairs.

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Kirby is back with a round, pink vengeance, and all should be thankful. Kirby Canvas Curse is being widely heralded as the first real must-own for the Nintendo DS, and that is entirely true. Canvas Curse isn?t a remake, it isn?t a knockoff and it isn?t a mediocre handheld version of a PC series. This sets Kirby apart from the rest as the DS?s first true masterpiece.

Canvas Curse, like every Kirby game, is virtually devoid of plot. Once upon a time Kirby was lounging happily in Dream Land when the evil sorceress Drawcia appeared. In order to take over Kirby?s homeland, she waved her magical paintbrush and turned the whole world into a painting, leaving Kirby as a tiny, lovable, limbless pink ball. Now, Kirby must be guided by a magical flying rainbow paintbrush (that?s the stylus) to defeat Drawcia, and save Dream Land. After the intro movie?it?s time for the rolling and drawing.

Simply put, the game plays very nicely. Unlike any other DS game, this one takes place almost entirely on the touch screen. With Kirby crippled, he can no longer rely on his own abilities to save Dream Land- now he must turn to the friendly flying paintbrush that is, coincidentally, controlled by the player. As the paintbrush, it is the gamer?s sacred duty to escort Kirby through each level unscathed. Once a level starts, give Kirby a poke and he?s on his way. Between Kirby and his goal are enemies, holes, platforms, spikes and more. Using the stylus, rainbows form paths to guide Kirby through each of the twenty-two levels. Enemies are many, and can be killed in only two ways. Poking an enemy on the touch screen with the stylus temporarily stuns them, and if Kirby touches the enemies while paralyzed, they are killed. The other is a direct Kirby attack. By poking Kirby with the stylus, he gains a temporary, but deadly speed boost, and if he hits an enemy while boosting, it kills them. Kirby is famous for his power boosts by inhaling enemies, and Canvas Curse keeps this reputation intact. If certain power-wielding baddies are killed, then Kirby automatically absorbs their abilities. In all, there are eleven abilities, most of which are staples in the series, like Beam Kirby and Flame Kirby. While eleven doesn?t sound like all that many, it?s more than enough, and they are all different enough to make each Kirby form unique. While the gameplay is nearly flawless, it isn?t perfect. Once Kirby is going, it is difficult to have him turn around, especially while Kirby is airborne. Also, controlling Kirby underwater can be very difficult, the constant upwards flow makes any quick movements or advanced maneuvers incredibly frustrating. However, the sheer ingenuity and core genius of the controls makes it all forgivable.

The graphics are very well done. Everything is bright, colorful and, despite the leap from GBA to DS, still bears the conventional Kirby style. The music is also conventional Kirby, with the same catchy tunes from previous installments. Hal Labs did a very nice job making the transition from old to new handheld, and while it is newer and better looking, it still has the same great Kirby feel.

There two large flaws in Canvas Curse; its easiness and its shortness. Canvas Curse, until the last few levels, is very simple. So simple, in fact, it can be played through without losing a life. Even though it is somewhat remedial, it is still very fun. However, that fun doesn?t last particularly long. The game can be beaten within six or seven hours, meaning it can be conquered within a simple day or two of dedicated play. There are some unlockables, like bonus missions and playing as Dedede, but that still adds only a minimal amount of replay value to Canvas Curse. It is still fun, and the game can last longer by mini-games and medal collecting, but it still won?t last past twenty hours.

Canvas Curse is still a must-own. It does great work in almost every way, from controls to maximizing the DS?s touch screen. It looks, feels and plays like historical Kirby installments. However, while it looks and plays well, it is incredibly short. Despite that, it is still a necessity for any DS owner, and while it may not get a very long run, it is still a track worth going on.

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