Somewhere Over The Wii U Rainbow
By Corey Dirrig
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is the console follow-up to Kirby’s Canvas Curse, the Original DS game. Nintendo’s long running franchise doesn’t differentiate much from that game in terms of gameplay innovation. How it does identify itself is it’s stunning claymation aesthetic and how it stays focused on what it sets out to accomplish. Nintendo has been known for getting creative with it’s smaller franchises and this game shines with flying colors in that respect, definitely being one of Nintendo’s most charming titles to date.
| Kirby and the Rainbow Curse Opening Cinematic |
Rainbow Curse has a simple story. Dreamland has been drained of color by an evil force and it is up to Kirby and his newly found friend, the paintbrush fairy (who the player actually controls in this game), to restore it. But there’s a twist. Kirby has been stripped of all his basic powers, including the ability to move around worlds on his own and swallowing his enemies to absorb their powers. Players must control our round pink, friend by drawing a path on the GamePad’s screen with the stylus to keep him moving, gain momentum, get through each stage and save his friends. This may seem repetitive, and it is, but in a way that is so well implemented that I hardly noticed at all.
Each world is carefully crafted in adorable claymation, down to the stop-motion animation of the cutscenes and imperfect smudges in the environments. Nintendo’s artists actually crafted physical models of the levels before diving into them digitally to get a feel of what characteristics of clay really look like. I caught myself getting distracted constantly by all of the amazing details, as it is apparent that they took the time to get each one correct. Though these details will be lost on most players, those that do notice will definitely appreciate them as it makes the game more immersive. Even the currents in the water levels and the wind are shown with clay swirls and lines. The environments also hide a ton of collectables, including trophies, diary entries, and stars. Finding them will take a lot of experimenting by drawing different paths.
| Draw paths to collect items and travel through the environments |
In it’s simplest form, the rainbow trail the player draws can be a way for Kirby to reach a higher platform or to cross gaps as a bridge. As I began to experiment, I found that I could shield myself from enemies, draw loops to keep up Kirby’s momentum, and twist the path to climb higher and find new areas. The paint isn’t infinite, however, as it is measured by a meter that depletes after continuous use, making the player find more efficient routes. The meter automatically recharges after a few moments, though I rarely found myself needing to wait for a full refill. It is fun to explore different ways to make Kirby move about the levels by combining multiple paths. As I mentioned before, Kirby can’t swallow and absorb his enemy’s powers, but he can transform into multiple vehicles from time to time, including a tank, a rocket, and a submarine. The vehicles add some cool ways to switch up the gameplay. The tank was an especially fun way to not only take out enemies, but to break obstacles and find more secrets. The game also has a similar option to New Super Mario Bros. U, where the game offers help to get through the current level and progress to the next.
Kirby games have always been criticized for being easy, especially the last few entries, and this game seems to follow that trend. The game never really steers into the way of being “Hard,” though the game does get a little frustrating. At times I found that the GamePad was a little unresponsive, experiencing disrupted paths or unexpected deaths. Though this was a rare occurrence, I did find it frustrating, especially during some boss fights. Also, getting Kirby to catch the path I had drawn seemed unforgiving, causing me to draw the same path multiple times. Lastly, I found I couldn’t enjoy the amazing aesthetic on the TV because I was too busy looking down at the GamePad. The game is gorgeous, and it’s a shame that whoever has the GamePad while playing can’t enjoy it on the big screen. None of these criticisms hindered my experience with the game that much, but they are worth mentioning.
| Find fruit and stars to gain unlocks at the end of each stage |
The one aspect of the game that really stands out is the surprisingly stellar co-op play. A second (and third and fourth if you want) player controls Waddle Dee, who controls more like a traditional platforming game. Waddle Dee can carry Kirby if Player One gets him stuck, find and gather items, and battle off enemies while Player One navigates. He can even use the platforms that are drawn on the GamePad. It makes the game less frustrating and way more fun. I found myself as Player 2 battling off enemies while my co-op partner could concentrate her focus on drawing us new paths.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a great game because it excels at what it is trying to be: a visually charming game designed around a simple concept. Nintendo takes that concept and creates challenging and fun ways to get around the stages with tons to do. The game keeps players revisiting levels by hiding tons of collectables as well as giving them a challenge mode. The Kirby, Meta Knight, and King Dedede amiibo are also compatible with Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, providing items and powers to the players. The game left me with a very satisfying feeling of accomplishment, as Nintendo games often do. I was surprised that the GamePad controls didn’t feel out of place as I barely felt the want for normal controls, even if sometimes they were a little unresponsive. Though this game definitely isn’t for the super hardcore gamer, Nintendo fans should at least give it a try.