|Title:||Kirby and the Rainbow Curse|
|Release Date:||February 20, 2014|
Of the main franchises in the Nintendo roster (for the record, there are many!), Kirby could be described as the one that goes through the most changes in gameplay styles. True, Mario himself has the most games, and by definition different ways to play, but when we talk about “core titles” in the franchise, Kirby is king.
Why? Well, probably because of who Kirby is, and it’s easy to manipulate the formula into something just as fun without having to rely on the standard practices. Whereas titles like Kirby Superstar Ultra, Kirby Triple Deluxe, Kirby and the Crystal Shards, and more, have the standard Kirby gameplay, Nintendo has tried many different uses for their adorable pink ball with titles like Kirby Pinball, Kirby’s Air Ride, Kirby’s Epic Yarn and now Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.
Rainbow Curse is more or less the successor to the popular Kirby: Canvas Curse that came out on the DS years back. With Rainbow Curse, you see a lot of new touches that makes the gameplay even more intuitive, fun and challenging.
First off, unlike the main titles, Kirby does not have his copy ability here. Don’t think of that as a turn-off though, it actually helps make this a (more-or-less) unique experience. One that’ll push your drawing abilities, and skills with the stylus, to the test! And for the record, it was a blast testing my skills.
Much like in most Kirby games, the story is simple. Kirby and Waddle Dee (the game is set up for 4-player co-op) are in Dream Land enjoying their day when the color is suddenly sucked out of their world, themselves included. A paintbrush fairy (I kid you not) named Elline comes and restores your colors and, with your help, will guide you back to her world to stop an evil entity and regain the life of your world.
There are two big standouts for Kirby and the Rainbow Curse in my mind. First off, let’s talk gameplay.
Instead of standard controls, you use the touchscreen on the Wii U gamepad to help guide Kirby across the level. He rolls himself into a ball and, as Elline, you’ll draw a path to guide Kirby on where to go. However, Kirby does have powers of his own, mainly a dash attack that’ll allow him to beat enemies, smash blocks, kill bosses, and interact with numerous objects.
On the plus side, it’s very simple to make a rainbow path, and once you’re a few levels in, you’ll have a good grasp on how to get Kirby to do what you want. The real fun is that certain things you’d expect to work, or not, don’t exactly apply here. Kirby can defy gravity with the power of the rainbow path. Furthermore, if you draw it right, you can block harmful things like lasers, flamethrowers, mines and more. Also, you can draw more than one path at once, giving you options and freedom to help Kirby however you see fit.
It really is a joy going through all the levels. Especially as you notice the little details and tricks they use to make them unique. Gameplay may start out one way, but then it’ll have you do something completely different in order to shake things up. For example, Kirby can shift into a submarine, a tank and a rocketship for certain levels. Each one controls different and you’ll have to use your rainbow path and the stylus to get them to do what you need. This is fun because it makes you think about what to do because each form has its own advantages and disadvantages. The tank is slow, the submarine can’t fire backwards and the rocketship can only be guided by the rainbow path. It may seem like this is an unnecessary mechanic, but to the contrary, it adds a level of difficulty that many Kirby fans wish other games had.
On the down side, sometimes the paths you draw won’t work the way you want them to. Precision is a good word to describe gameplay here in Rainbow Curse. You’ll have to adapt your drawing skills to ensure you get Kirby to the place you want him to or else pay the price. Thankfully, the game provides plenty of lives, which will you need as the game goes on.
The other big standout is the look of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Much like Kirby’s Epic Yarn (a game I loved by the way), the entire look of Kirby, Dream Land, and all the worlds you visit have been overhauled. This time though, clay is the medium of choice and it is amazing.
While the clay itself may not be a key factor to the game (like how yarn was a weapon for Kirby in Epic Yarn), the clay aesthetic makes this game pop in a way that even fully rendered 3D worlds struggle to do. From the ways the clay bends, dents, then reforms, to how Kirby gets flattened and even how the enemies interact, the clay look just works. This is made two-fold by the level design, which I would argue rivals that of the recent Donkey Kong Country games as the most stunning levels I’ve ever seen. The layers look, fee and progression as you go through them just makes this game a marvel to look at, as much as it is a marvel to play.
For me, it’s really the simple touches that make it shine. Like when Kirby is in tank mode and you get 100 Stars to use your special attack. You get to watch as Kirby grows into a multi-layered gun tank, then fire numerous projectiles at enemies, that’s fun stuff! The team at Hal Laboratory really went all out for the design of this game and it shows. Also, the sound design really adds to the feel of the game, including both new themes and music, to traditional Kirby sound effects and the traditional dance at the end of the levels.
Now, aside from controls that sometimes will frustrate, the only real downside to Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is length and the bosses. You can literally beat the game in a day if you wanted to, I did it over the course of two days in roughly two 3-4 hour bursts. That’s not too bad compared to other Kirby games; but if you’re wanting a more in-depth experience this may not be for you. And I’m sure some people will not like the new style of Kirby gameplay, but I honestly would encourage you to try it out.
The second thing is the bosses. On one hand, they are tough, and will require you to fight them on their terms and not your own. However, the first three bosses get repeated in later levels with slight upgrades. It’s a good improvement from the first fight, but I wish there were more unique bosses to fight. However, the final boss (that I won’t spoil), is definitely a worthy challenge and marks a thrilling end to the game.
Outside of the main story, there are other little things to do. There are PLENTY of collectibles for you to get in the game. From statues to in-game music to entries in a diary that reveal even more backstory to the game and add some kiddish charm that’ll surely make you smile. Also, there’s a lengthy challenge mode that’ll test your skills even more than the main game did.
In the end, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is another worthy addition to the Kirby franchise. A fun look, tight and ever-growing gameplay, beautiful worlds and plenty to do, it will keep gamers entertained as they go through the story. There are a few drawbacks, but for what it is, this game is fun, and isn’t that what games are supposed to be?