Review: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

This clay-tacular adventure is anything but a curse.

By Kyle England. Posted 02/23/2015 09:00 1 Comment     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Creative level design; Large variety of gameplay; Absolutely fantastic presentation; Warm feelings of happiness all around
Poison Mushroom for...
Multiplayer is hit or miss; Television is underutilized

Kirby’s first Wii U title has all the charm, polish, and fun we’ve come to expect from his delightful games. I told you it would be good! As a follow-up to 2005’s Canvas Curse for DS, Rainbow Curse delivers even more mileage to the compelling touch-based gameplay while still throwing in new ideas and tricks at every turn. Beneath its saccharine cuteness, Rainbow Curse also manages to add in surprises and challenges for those willing to dig. HAL has made a lush and lovingly crafted game that should not be missed by Wii U owners. It’s Kirby! What’s not to love?

A witch with the power of crafting worlds and creatures from clay has stolen all of the color from Kirby’s homeworld of Pop Star to use in her own clay universe! So of course, it’s up to Kirby to bring back the rainbow. With his new friend Elline and your handy stylus, it’s time to get drawing.

First and foremost, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is an astoundingly beautiful game. The clay-mation look is truly unique– creating a vibrant world that feels consistent and lifelike. All of the characters, props, environments, and menus look like real modeling clay. Many moving objects have a stop-motion feel to them that makes it hard to believe you are playing a fully interactive game rather than watching an Aardman Animation film. Any given screenshot could totally be recreated with actual clay! Every dimple and smudged fingerprint present on the clay makes it apparent that a ton of love went into developing the style, and Rainbow Curse is assuredly the most visually striking Wii U game yet. In fact, the unique look makes the game stand out as having some of the best aesthetics of any game in recent memory.

Fans of Kirby: Canvas Curse will need little help getting started with Rainbow Curse, as it plays largely identical to the portable game– but with a few major change-ups. Kirby is still stuck to being indirectly controlled with rainbow lines drawn on the GamePad’s touch screen, but this time around he just sticks to the basics. Copy abilities are gone, and interactivity is limited to just Kirby and the lines you draw. Enemies and switches can’t be messed with directly using the stylus, which means you must carefully maneuver Kirby at all times. The change in mechanics keeps things fresh even if you have played Canvas Curse in and out as I have. This approach led to some thoughtful design decisions, as HAL managed to stretch the gameplay to continually introduce new ways to use your rainbow ropes up until the very end of the game.

In lieu of copy abilities are several new powers that Kirby has. For one, Kirby can now use a special dash attack whenever you collect 100 stars. Having to save up and conserve stars to destroy certain obstacles adds another layer to the navigation and action. Kirby can also transform into new forms at certain times. These tank, submarine, and rocket forms totally change up how Kirby moves and attacks, which offer an interesting twist and act as a break form the normal gameplay. The forms have substance and thought put into their levels, and don’t merely serve as mid-level gimmicks. Rainbow Curse also features real boss battles rather than the old boss mini-games that were present in its predecessor. The battles can be quite challenging and really put your reflexes and mastery of the drawing mechanics to the test.

Like most Kirby games, beating the main quest is only part of the overall package. Every level contains hidden items like clay figurines, special music tracks, and pages of Elline’s adorable animated diary. The figurines in particular are quite nice; they’re very detailed clay models of many of the game’s characters with some hilarious and witty descriptions. The challenge mode offers some brutally tough mini-games that require some truly quick thinking. Amiibo figures also add some small features to the experience. Using a Kirby character figure, some buffs can be applied during the main adventure. These features are a bit like cheat codes that grant Kirby extra health or speed during a level. Players who don’t own the figures aren’t missing much here, but they might feel just a little left out.

Game music aficionados know that the Kirby series has a pedigree of sound excellence, and Rainbow Curse‘s soundtrack does not disappoint. The game is filled with awesome musical arrangements played by real instruments, and the aforementioned collectibles feature remixed tracks lifted from games all throughout Kirby’s previous adventures.

One design aspect that might have been hard to get around is the total reliance on the Wii U GamePad. Due to the touch based nature of the game, one’s eyes must firmly be affixed down on the smaller screen at all times. The same thing is on both screens at all times, so this means that you’ll be missing the full glory of the HD visuals on the television screen most of the time, which is a shame. This can’t really be helped, but you can’t help but realize you aren’t getting to absorb all of the beautiful art in the best way possible. It’s great to spectate on the TV screen, or to play multiplayer.

And speaking of multiplayer, a simple drop-in co-op mechanic allows for up to three other players to take control of Waddle Dees and assist Kirby. Waddle Dee helpers run on solid ground and control like they would in a normal platformer. Some levels are more suited for this than others, as helpers often cannot keep up with Kirby in some of the more complicated sections without being assisted with more rainbow ropes. It’s a nice addition that can add a bit of fun to the game, but the levels were clearly designed for Kirby’s unique control scheme first.

Truly no other game uses the Wii U touch screen to its fullest with such flair. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a beautiful, creative, and fun-loving game that absolutely deserves your time and attention. It’s even got a budget price, the same as a 3DS game, to encourage you to give it a whirl. Rainbow Curse is simply a treat from start to finish worth nothing less than the highest recommendation. Kirby has a certain way of just making you happy, and there’s no exception here. No matter your age or skill level, it’s tough to not play this game with a giant grin on your face. That is why I dearly love Kirby, and I hope we never stop getting his charming games.

One Response to “Review: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

  • 81 points
    Anthony Pelone says...

    Been playing this since launch and it’s composed of the same smile-inducing relaxation factor that made Kirby’s Epic Yarn such a delight. I’m actually listening to the sound test right now!

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