Nintendo’s Kirby has to be one of the most deceptive characters in video game history. On the surface, he looks so soft and cuddly, you can’t help but smile when you see him. However, that is how he sucks you in (pun intended) and then he punishes you with a combination of addictiveness and difficulty. That is the best way to describe Kirby and the Rainbow Curse: addictive and, at times, ridiculously difficult. Despite that fact, it still proved to be one of the most enjoyable platformers that I have played in a long time.
The game is basically a follow up to the DS’s Kirby: Canvas Curse, adopting its gameplay style to Nintendo’s modern console. In this world, as opposed to the traditional Kirby game, you will never get direct control of Kirby. Instead, you will use the Wii U controller’s touchscreen to paint lines that guide him along a path. When Kirby comes in contact with these rainbow-colored brush strokes, he will move in the direction of the stroke that was used to draw them. The brush that you wield has a limited supply of paint, so you need to be thoughtful and strategic with each and every stroke that you place on the screen. Some other interactions will be used with the little pink marshmallow, such as tapping Kirby to speed him up or propel him to attack an enemy and holding your finger / stylus on him for a few seconds after collecting 100 stars in order to unleash your super-charge.
While this sounds simple enough, it becomes anything but in the long run. Honestly, it becomes downright difficult at times, even infuriating. The game starts you out with simple stages that task you with simply escorting him from point A to point B while keeping him away from enemies and dangers. It doesn’t take long though before that simplicity is out the door and the game begins to test not only your ability with the brush, but your patience as you meet a variety of enemy types and huge bosses that require you to go on the offensive. It is a bit hard to take down enemies with a character that you do not have direct control of; that is the challenge of the game though and what tests you as a player. Even when I was to the point where I was ready to throw the controller, I still found myself going back for more punishment.
The cooperative options make things a little easier to manage as players two through four get to play as different Waddle Dees rather than directing Kirby. Controlling Waddle Dee feels a bit more like a traditional game as you control him directly, as you would Kirby in other games. You get to turn the Wiimote sideways and use the directional pad and buttons. Things are a lot of fun with multiple players. If you’re getting this for a younger gamer, plan on going along with them for the ride in order to help ease the difficulty of the experience as it ramps up pretty quickly.
The game takes you through seven chapters in all, each consisting of three stages and a boss battle. Every world is completely different than the others, both in looks and in terms of the obstacles that they throw your way, implementing slight gameplay variations that keep things fresh. One stage might have task you with moving Kirby within the confines of fast-moving ocean currents, while another may have you struggling to keep him off of the ground from start to finish. All along the way there are collectible treasure chests to find that will unlock music tracks and trophies that you can access in a separate gallery mode, giving you reason to go back and explore after you have already beaten a level.
Most of the worlds also give you a vehicle-oriented stage which transforms Kirby into something like a tank, plane, or submarine. Despite the variation in your character, you still have indirect control and must rely on your ability to paint your way through the world. The paint is often used differently though, perhaps to guide missiles on complicated paths to your enemies or even identifying which enemies your Kirby-tank should attack. These levels, in particular, are a ton of fun to play through and I wish that they were featured more often throughout the game. Waddle Dee players usually get a change of pace on these levels as well, often being equipped with some sort of special weapon beyond their standard spear.
The soundtrack is your typical, quirky Nintendo fare, but the visuals are definitely something special and beyond the norm of a Kirby adventure. Most of the games are traditional sprite based adventures, and we have seen Kirby enter a world made completely of yarn; this time however Kirby and friends are molded entirely of clay. There is no denying how gorgeous the game is when you see it in motion. Screenshots just don’t do Kirby’s latest adventure justice as you really need to see the whole world in motion to truly appreciate the claymation aesthetics. The minute details are just astonishing when you take the time to look for them; you will find things such as fingerprints and imperfect indentations in the characters and environments. If you want to see these things you will need to see it in full high-definition. Unfortunately you rarely get to do while playing the game.
Due to the gameplay mechanics of the game, you will be focused solely on the Wii U gamepad the entire time that you are playing. Only when you play cooperatively and control one of the Waddle Dee characters do you get to enjoy the game in all of its glory. This is perhaps the biggest issue that I take with the game as its ingenious mechanics sell the experience short. The game truly belongs on the 3DS and I could imagine they could use the claymation styled visuals in combination with the 3D capabilities of the system to produce some cool effects. The difficulty ramping is the game’s other real problem as it really jumps from being simple to complicated very early on. You really have to master the painting mechanic in order to be successful and they don’t give you a whole lot of time to do that before they start piling on the challenges.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a great game, however it just doesn’t feel like it belongs on the Wii U. While it is one of the most beautiful games the Wii U has to offer, you don’t get to see it in all of its HD glory as you will be staring at the gamepad the entire time. Wii U owners deserve a gorgeous, HD adventure with Kirby and for now, only spectators get to experience that. The Amiibo support, which is something that is becoming a cornerstone of first-party Wii U games, is also severely lacking. The game only supports three figures (Kirby, King Dedede, and Meta knight) and their contribution to the experience is minimal at best. Despite all of that, it is a fun adventure with an intriguing and well-executed gameplay mechanic in terms of the brush-related controls. One just has to wonder if it would have been better suited to have been made for the 3DS.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Guess who's back!!! If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, former certified news monkey. I still consider myself all of those things, just maybe not in the grand scale that I once did. I’ve been blogging on the industry for more than decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die (in some form or another).
I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it (at least once).