Last time it was yarn and this time Kirby’s world is all clay.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse takes the ideas of touch-screen controls from 2005′s Canvas Curse and brings it to console form on Wii U. Canvas Curse made sense for the DS as the touch-screen controls for the portable felt right and worked perfectly for the newly introduced system. Rainbow Curse doesn’t fit quite as gracefully as its offerings feel a bit forced and you can only wish this Canvas Curse follow-up would have followed suit and arrived on 3DS instead.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse has a very basic story that gets the job done to tie the game together and explain why rainbows are the main theme. The story starts as Kirby and Waddle Dee are hanging around when suddenly all the color in Dream Land is drained. Thankfully, a fairy named Elline saves the two and restores their color. They then embark on an adventure to stop the evil Claycia. The story is told in completely clay cutscenes, which is very reminiscent to stop motion cartoons like Gumby or Wallace and Gromit. I’m a fan of this look and this style is certainly welcomed for future installments of Kirby or other games.
Getting through Rainbow Curse requires the touch-screen all the way through.
You guide Kirby along by drawing rainbow lines that Kirby will snap on to and you can also tap Kirby to speed him up. Tapping Kirby is also your main form of attack, which will rush through enemies and defeat them. Unfortunately, unlike touch-screen predecessor Canvas Curse, there is no gaining of power-ups from other enemies. This is a real shame, because absorbing powers from normal enemies like Freeze and Burning is a big part of the Kirby charm. Instead, there is a charge up ability available after collecting 100 stars that can blast through multiple enemies and certain types of walls. Kirby will also find himself in different forms, such as a submarine or a tank, to get through specific levels and they certainly do bring some variety.
The Rainbows you draw on screen not only guide and maneuver Kirby as they also affect the environment. This is where the game sets itself apart with some of the puzzle elements coming into play. To get through some areas you’ll have to draw lines in order to block waterfalls from weighing Kirby down or draw ramps to have a metal ball hit a switch in Rube Goldberg fashion. These aspects make everything click and makes the choice for touch controls not feel like a gimmick. Boss battles are also satisfying as they require some reactionary swipes and use of the rainbow to protect yourself from projectiles. And yes, Whispy Woods is back.
The serious downfall to all of this is the fact that the player is strapped to looking down at the Wii U GamePad. For a game that is showing off the unique and creative art style in having everything made of clay, this is seldom enjoyed throughout the entire game. The television might as well be turned off, because looking up and controlling Kirby is not a plausible way to play. I found myself taking glances at the screen every once in a while to see some of the clay in HD glory, but then I’m quickly burdened to look back down at the low quality screen. The only reason why the television should ever need to be on is for the multiplayer.
Multiplayer mode is where the game shines.
The 2nd, 3rd and 4th player can play the game in the traditional Kirby set up with a Wiimote tilted sideways. Playing as one of potentially three Waddle Dees, you can jump, poke things with a sharp harpoon and do certain things that are just easier when not enslaved to the rainbow path. There were many occasions where getting a hard to reach item was much more feasible with the co-op partner than Kirby who is always rolling and magnetized to whatever rainbow course is drawn on screen. It is definitely a much more manageable experience moving around with a D-pad.
Overall, the game feels very mediocre and it’s dragged down by a clumsy gameplay scheme. I would have even preferred to use the Wiimote pointer as a paintbrush more than the touch-screen just so I can actually enjoy the eye candy that is Kirby in clay form! The use of clay is very nice to see when they opportunity arises and I would love to see more games adopting clay art in order to push style over hyperrealism. But in the end, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a letdown and it could have been a good game or at least a solid game if it weren’t for one or two design choices.Review copy of this game was provided by the the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Unique gameplay and art style that doesn't mix as well as it could have.