The Wii U Gamepad is the Canvas –
As a sequel to Kirby Canvas Curse, a launch title for the original DS, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is not only a worthy sequel but also a reason to actually use the Wii U stylus in a meaningful way.
Kirby’s homeland has been stripped of color so he joins forces with a magical paintbrush to bring life back to a drab world. Like Canvas Curse, the player does not actually directly control Kirby but instead guides him by drawing lines on the Wii U gameplay. This is both a blessing and a curse as it is a rather creative way to traverse environments but also results in frustrating moments of lacking of control. For example, sometimes it can be a challenge to grab that item floating right next to you or the player accidentally activates Kirby’s super move which is performed by tapping and holding the stylus directly on him. Even after playing for hours, these touchy mistakes were common.
While each stage is composed of creative set pieces and enemies, there are many times level design becomes more frustrating than fun simply because of the non-direct control mechanic. The one-hit kills in the later levels are super annoying and stage design even trolls the player by demanding multiply play-throughs to get all the collectables. More often than not, Kirby will lose the ability to travel backwards which means there is little chance on collecting all five hidden chests in each stage thanks to cheaply made branching paths. Yes, there are tons of optional collectables to find but the stage design will make this a true nightmare for completionists. Also, the game rates the player’s success at the end of each stage with a bronze, silver or gold medal but I was only able to earn a couple of golds even after seeing the end credit roll. In order to get a gold rating, absolute perfection is required which is a challenge unto itself.
The other frustrating element to the indirect control is the level-ending rotating bonus wheel. Here, the player ideally wants to collect the exclusive diary page as it unlocks a secret message on the main menu and required for 100% completion. However, the player needs to guide Kirby to this item as this giant wheel of items is rotating in a fast moving circle. To get Kirby that accurate with proper timing is tremendously difficult and caused me to swear more times than I would like to admit. Worse yet, instead of grabbing this diary page, I would often collect the one star item, the worst bonus available, furthering the level of trolling.
There are over half a dozen worlds to play through, each with three stages and one boss fight. Unfortunately, boss fights repeat and the final boss uses some cheap tactics to kill the player thanks to the stylus-only control. All in all, the main quest might only take around 10 hours to complete but there are tons of optional content to shift through like the dozens of challenge stages that become unlocked with each completed world. These challenges are composed of four 15-second gauntlets and actually remind me of WarioWare-style mini games. And like Smash Bros, there are tons of trophies and music tracks to collect.
Besides just drawing Kirby from Point A to Point B, Kirby usually has one specific transformation stage per world which takes the place of sucking up enemies to gain their powers like most Kirby games. Here, Kirby can transform into a submarine, a tank and even a rocket, each supporting a slightly new control scheme, gimmick, and way to attack. These transformation portions are usually the most entertaining parts of each world and early Kirby fans will even notice a small cameo from Kirby’s animal buddies of the sequel to the original Gameboy title.
While Kirby’s Epic Yarn contained a yarn-visual style, everything is made out of clay here in Rainbow Curse. In short, the game looks amazing and is backed up with a stellar soundtrack, as most Kirby titles are. Unfortunately, the player will probably never look up the HD TV screen as the player must constantly look at the Wii U gamepad. Sure, the entire game is playable by not even turning on your TV but then the player cannot truly appreciate the detail that was taken into composing this clay world.
There is also an optional multiplayer component in which Wii Remote users can help Kirby by attacking and running on the lines the Gamepad user draws. Honestly, this can throw off the balance of some stages and almost seems like an afterthought but having a co-op component is a welcomed feature. The Kirby, King Dedede, and Meta Knight amiibo also are compatible with Rainbow Curse. Scanning the Kirby amiibo will allow the user to use the super charge ability at will (normally only can be summoned after collecting 100 stars), the Dedede amiibo grants the player a little extra health which is especially helpful for boss battles, and Meta Knight gives Kirby a drill attack. Each amiibo can only be scanned once per day and doesn’t massively alter gameplay. If you already own these amiibo, great, go ahead and take advantage of the helpful perks but there is no need to go hunt for the rare and higher priced Dedede and Meta Knight amiibo.
Sold as a budget title of $40, Kirby and Rainbow Curse is one of the titles Wii U owners should seriously consider purchasing. It isn’t perfect and definitely has frustrating moments, but the charming art style, wealth of content, unique gameplay, and stylus control is an experience that can only be found on Nintendo latest console.
Better Than: Max and the Magic Marker
Also Try: Kirby Mass Attack
Wait For It: Kirby’s Tilt’n Tumble 2
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com