Think Pink! Day 7: Pink & Fuzzy Strokes of Genius
Posted by Captain K
Think Pink! is a week long tribute to the pink puff we all know as Kirby. In honor of Kirby’s new game Kirby’s Epic Yarn, every day this week we’ll be taking a look at a different set of his adventures. From Dream Land to amazing mirrors, golf to pinball, canvas to knitting, we will celebrating every single one of Kirby’s games. Enjoy!
For our final edition of Think Pink!, we’ll be taking a look at two of the most creative games in the Kirby franchise. Not only do these games represent the height of creativity in the series, they rank among the most innovative games I’ve ever seen. Just ahead, the boundaries of Kirby’s gameplay design will be stretched, and art style will reinvent a classic game design. Let’s dig in.
Kirby: Canvas Curse
Platform: Nintendo DS
Release: June 13, 2005
Developer: HAL Laboratory
When the Nintendo DS was first released, customers were treated to two things. First, they were offered a handful of crappy launch games to choose from that made uninspired use of the platform’s new interface. The reason for this was the Nintendo DS was the first game system to use a combination of touch sensitive controls and not one, but two screens. There were a few exceptions, like Sega’s completely bizarre Feel the Magic: XY/XX and Nintendo’s demo for Metroid Prime: Hunters, but for the most part it was very easy to tell that developers had not yet figured out what to do with this new technology. Second, there was a catalog available at most retail stores showing off the new features of the DS, as well as a list of upcoming titles. One of these games was called Touch: Kirby. It featured the bold concept of trying to make a platform game that exclusively used touch-screen controls. After a short wait and a new title that made the game seem less…creepy, gamers finally got to wrap their hands around the unusual, but brilliant, Kirby: Canvas Curse.
The game may not look like much in screen shots, but once you try it out, it’s obvious that you’re playing something truly unique. With Kirby once again being transformed into a ball, the player uses the touch-screen to draw paths for Kirby to roll on, while tapping the screen to stun enemies, perform a dash attack, and utilize acquired powers. The level designs are brilliant, featuring some of the franchise’s most difficult stages. The visuals are a mixture of traditional Kirby artwork and impressionistic paintings, as the story revolves around Kirby being sucked into a world of canvas, and the player uses a magic marker to guide him through his quest. Finally, the soundtrack features some of the most interesting music in the franchise. As usual, the game calls upon songs from the series’ history in addition to some new tracks. What sets these remixes apart is just how far they are taken from their source material. This game sounds unlike any Kirby before or since, while maintaining continuity with what the series is known for. All these pieces fit together to form what is still one of the best uses of the Nintendo DS hardware. For anyone looking to play something wholly unique, this game cannot be missed.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Release: October 17, 2010
Developer: Good-Feel Games
Kirby’s Epic Yarn goes against almost every major trend the video game industry right now. While most console games are striving for gritty realism and violence, this game presents the player with adorable fabric-based visuals and a complete inability to die. It’s a 2D platformer that features all the imagination of old-school design, and polishes it off with the technology of today. This visual style has been attempted before in games like LittleBigPlanet for PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s own Yoshi Story for N64, but nobody has pulled it off quite like this. Instead of a mere visual gimmick, the art direction is woven into the gameplay itself by making enemies and backgrounds behave like the materials they are made of. Zippers can be pulled to reveal new areas, strings can be tugged to unravel enemies, and fabric can be folded to alter the entire environment. Taking place almost entirely inside a magical sock, the whole thing seems rather silly at first. As it turns out, it’s that fact that gives the game its personality, and makes the player want to keep coming back for more.
Good-Feel Games’ previous work, the starkly beautiful Wario Land: Shake It!, proved that by using the power of a modern game console, 2D platformers can yield some stunning results. Epic Yarn, however, takes things to a whole new level of awesome. Seeing this game in action is an absolute joy, and playing it makes it even better. Tight controls, co-op play, intelligent level design, and tons of hidden secrets assure that, if you are willing to spend your $50, you will not be disappointed. I wish I could go into more detail, but my time with the game has been very short. Still, what little I’ve played and seen has me completely sold. Games like this are begging to be played. With so much shovelware in this industry, especially on the Wii, it can be easy to forget just how great gaming can be.
Well, that does it for Think Pink! The purpose of these articles was to try and point a spotlight on one of Nintendo’s second-tier characters. There is some truly wonderful gameplay to be found in this series, and while it’s easy to see how one could write them off as kiddie games, they’re much more than that. Yes, they’re appropriate for kids, but they’re also made for everyone. It’s this ageless appeal that has kept Kirby relevant through the years, and we’re all better off because of it. Thanks for reading!