With the Wii U Gamepad serving as a superb and versatile second screen a la 3DS, the world of Kirby: Canvas Curse was an obvious choice for Kirby’s first outing on Nintendo’s newest system (excluding his appearance in Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U of course). Taking full advantage of the Gamepad’s touch screen controls while bringing some insanely breathtaking clay animation-style visuals, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is an addictive and satisfying entry in the Wii U’s ever expanding library of fantastic games.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
Developed by HAL Laboratory / Published by Nintendo
Available on the Wii U.
*Review copy provided by Nintendo
The first thing that’ll obviously draw players to Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is of course the colorful and gorgeous clay animation visuals which look insanely impressive for the Wii U and rival some of the best looking games today. While it might look great in screenshots, these really don’t do the game justice, as it’s truly a marvel to behold on a high-definition screen, with lush and varied clay environments that really pop with color and detail, and excellent character and monster models that are exquisitely designed and animated. However, since all the action is controlled through the touch screen, it’s hard to appreciate the game’s beauty when your eyes are solely on the Gamepad, which is less than ideal since the small screen’s resolution is not even HD. It’s sad that players can’t appreciate the superb animation and crisp visuals when you’re forced to look elsewhere, but when you do get a chance to check out the big screen it’s a beautiful thing to behold.
Gameplay is thankfully just as great as the visuals, with some truly excellent and satisfying platforming. Just like Canvas Curse, players guide Kirby through stages by drawing rainbow lines on the touchscreen that propel the pink puff forward or backward depending on what a player draws, as Kirby is pretty much static and won’t move without it. A straight line will guide Kirby forward in the direction the line was drawn towards, while upward lines will carry Kirby straight into the sky, allowing him to avoid dangerous obstacles like pits, enemies, fire, etc. Curves will cause Kirby to follow along, going up then down, or vice versa, and intersecting lines will cause Kirby to bounce off the new one and head back the way he came. Lines can also protect him from attacks as well. The name of the game is to draw lines to push Kirby through the stage and get to the end of each one in one piece.
As you would expect, it isn’t as easy as it sounds, as players also have to contend with a variety of obstacles and puzzles that stand in Kirby’s way. Enemies litter each stage with the goal of running into our hero or hitting him with an attack to zap away some health, so players can tap on Kirby to cause him to charge forward in a spinning attack and bulldoze through enemies. Then there’s a variety of blocks that impede the little guys progress, so Kirby must bust through them in order to proceed. Additionally, there are all sorts of death-dealing pits, vertical climbs, and other impassable obstacles, so players must skillfully draw paths throughout to carry Kirby around and hopefully not let him fall, and must be careful to not exceed the line drawing limit or risk letting the pink puff fall to his death. It’s a challenge keeping Kirby afloat with lines while defeating enemies and navigating dangerous obstacles, but it quickly becomes second nature and is tons of fun.
There are also plenty of collectibles strewn about stages as well, some of which help Kirby out for a powerful, special attack. Collectible stars are plentiful in stages and can be found pretty much everywhere, but they also serve a function as collecting a hundred of them grant him the power of the Star Dash, which causes him to grow in size and spin attack, allowing to break through previously indestructible blocks or deal loads of damage to enemies. It’s a cool attack that reveals secret areas or can even the odds, and collecting all the stars you can in a stage usually grants the chance to use it multiple times, allowing for players to explore the environment for goodies or take on packs of foes without fear.
Kirby also gets to transform from time to time, despite losing the ability to suck in enemies and absorb their power. Certain stages allow Kirby to transform into a rocket, submarine and tank, granting our hero new abilities to combat enemies and ways to get around the stage. Not only do these do a great job at adding some variety to the game, but are also fun stages in their own right.
Finally, Kirby will also encounter boss battles at the end of each world, challenging players with large monsters that want nothing but Kirby’s defeat. Just like other Kirby games, these bosses follow attack patterns, so players need to learn their movements and animations to get the upper hand.
While the main campaign is pretty great and offers collectibles for those completionists out there, the game also features additional modes for some added replay value, like Challenge Mode and co-op gameplay. Challenge Mode features additional levels that task players to collect stars or finish levels in time for a ranking, while co-op allows up to three additional players to join in on the fun as Waddle Dees that can help defeat enemies and clear obstacles.
Overall, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a worthy successor to Kirby: Canvas Curse and one of the better platformers the Nintendo Wii U has to offer. While it really hurts that players spend most of their time staring at the Gamepad’s screen rather than the TV in order to appreciate the game’s amazing graphics, it’s definitively a game that’s worth checking out, and is a game that no Kirby fan should miss.