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Kirby and the Rainbow Curse review

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse  (1)

Much like the pink protagonist’s aptitude for shapeshifting, HAL Laboratory’s Kirby games have adapted a variety of forms. Beyond the platforming mechanics of Kirby’s Dream Land, Kirby’s Adventure, and Kirby: Super Star, the character has employed his transformative abilities to tweak traditional genres, whether bouncing off bumpers in Kirby’s Pinball Land, offering an ingenious take on miniature golf with Kirby’s Dream Course, or careening across race tracks in the criminally underrated Kirby Air Ride.

But the gelatinous globule’s most experimental outings was Kirby: Canvas Curse, a DS-based title that seized direct control over the character. In its place, players used their styluses to draw rainbow ropes on the touchscreen, which would guide Kirby across stages filled with both foe and collectable. While the title substantiated Nintendo’s decision for a dual screen portable, Canvas Curse wasn’t faultless. Sporadically, indirect control could prove to vexing, with a misplaced line ensnaring the effervescent little blob. The subsequent release of Kirby Mass Attack tried to remedy this control culpabilities by returning Kirby to his platforming roots, but flinging a pack of protagonists over a cliff proved to be more frustrating than fun.

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As such, the release of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse feels like HAL Laboratory finally accomplishing their aspirations, with fruition stemming from the game’s control scheme. Using the Gamepad’s touchscreen, players still sketch polychromatic lines around the playfield, which Kirby can ride like a winding escalators. Deftly, the character’s AI has been augmented, so when a route doesn’t quite connect with a piece of the environment, he’ll automatically hop up and right himself. Tapping on Kirby issues a dash, which has the ability to defeat basic enemies and break through blocks. Collecting a hundred stars puts a distinctive blue aura around the lead, with an extended stylus hold transforming Kirby into a whirlwind of destruction. When this maneuver is trigger, Kirby grows to gargantuan proportions, rebound off both foe and block, and occasionally launching himself temporarily off-screen, with only a Super Smash Bros.-like indictor to affirm his safety.

Skillfully, level design is every bit as adept as Rainbow Curse’s control scheme. Once players pass a short tutorial intended to impart the tenets of play, stages open up, offering environments that reward exploration with alcoves filled with stars, collectable treasure chests, 1 Ups, and other perks. And while the games’ collection of twenty-eight levels (with seven dedicated to boss battles) might seem truncated, HAL rarely pads the experience. Mechanics where players have to do things like regulate the flow of lava and water, or guide both halves of a split Kirby to the level exit are used once and seldom duplicated.

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Naturally, Rainbow Curse’s play style doesn’t lend itself to Kirby’s typical transformative capabilities, so set pieces where the endearing lead transforms into a tank, sub, or rocket are given their own separate zones. Here, the developer flaunts their creative competence, thinking up variations for the game’s input methods, from doing things like drawing rainbow rope to bend the trajectory of torpedoes to launching cannon balls as your adorable pink tank automatically inches along. Whereas other developers might have found a comfortable groove and elongated the technique across several stages, Rainbow Curse confidently charges forward, confronting adversary as well as stagnancy.

Unfortunately, an ambition toward variety is undermined by the reuse of several bosses. Sure, meeting a baddy for the second time introduces new attack patterns or a change in context, but the thrill of discovery is weakened when you’re forced into a rematch. Given the amount of lore HAL has created across two dozen Kirby titles, players might be expected a bit more diversity in the boss battles.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse  (2)

But that’s not to say that Rainbow Curse doesn’t warrant its forty dollar MSRP. Buried in each level are five treasure chests which can be acquired using either a bit of stylish stylusing or creative thinking. Obtaining each glimmering trunk offers more than just hollow incentive to revisit levels, with dividends like near-photorealistic figurines and animated diary pages that offer extra exposition. For local participants, there’s also an asymmetrical co-operative mode where one player controls Kirby, while others direct spear-wielding Waddle Dees using Wiimotes. Unsurprisingly, this deviation radically changes the way Rainbow Curse is tackled, especially in exclusive mid-boss fights render Kirby powerless, compelling the character to assist his teammates. Rounding out the package are a collection of forty challenge rooms, where players have fifteen seconds to figure out how to grab the loot in each mini-puzzle.

Where Kirby’s Epic Yarn reinvigorated the franchise’s visual aesthetic with a fabric-based motif, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse uses Claymation to create distinction. Sure, games like Clayfighter, Skullmonkeys, and Platypus have employed the method in an effort to remove the sterility of computer graphics, but each of those titles wasn’t really able to capitalize on the concept. Capably, pulls the feat off, rendering animation that rivals the quality of stop-motion films, while nimbly shirking the protracted load times of the aforementioned titles. Of course, the one caveat is that in order to truly appreciate Rainbow Curse’s visual artistry, you have to watch the game being played on a television. Given the touchscreen-based input method, that means only co-op partners and onlookers will be privy to the picturesque. Sonically, Rainbow Curse mines Kirby’s catalog of refrains, offering bubbly remixes of melodic favorites.

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Like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is another economically-priced second-party gem that belongs in any Wii U owner’s library. By eschewing the goal of a drawn-out playtime, Rainbow Curse offers a digestible dose of captivating gameplay which warrants the continued support of the Gamepad. Perhaps if Microsoft treated the Kinect in the same manner, game rooms wouldn’t be littered with orphaned piles of unrealized potential.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse was played on the Wii U with review code provided by the publisher.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
Platform: Wii U
Developer: HAL Laboratory Inc.
Publisher: Nintendo
Release date: February 20th, 2015
Price: $39.99 retail and via eShop
ESRB: Everyone
Much like the pink protagonist’s aptitude for shapeshifting, HAL Laboratory’s Kirby games have adapted a variety of forms. Beyond the platforming mechanics of Kirby’s Dream Land, Kirby’s Adventure, and Kirby: Super Star, the character has employed his transformative abilities to tweak traditional genres, whether bouncing off bumpers in Kirby’s Pinball Land, offering an ingenious take on miniature golf with Kirby’s Dream Course, or careening across race tracks in the criminally underrated Kirby Air Ride. But the gelatinous globule’s most experimental outings was Kirby: Canvas Curse, a DS-based title that seized direct control over the character. In its place, players used…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 90%
Controls - 85%
Aesthetics - 95%
Content - 80%
Accessibility - 85%

87%

VERY GOOD

Summary : Once again, HAL Laboratory demonstrates the Kirby franchise proficiently straddling the space between safe sequels with more experimental spin-offs. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse might not be prototypical platforming, but it does show the ideas developed for Kirby: Canvas Curse expertly executed.

User Rating: 4.48 ( 7 votes)

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

19 comments

  1. Didn’t someone call Deagle a Nintendo-hater? Look at the last sentence. He’s a Microsoft hater for sure.

    • Being disappointed about the Kinect doesn’t make you a MS hater, just an individual of normal intelligence.

  2. Here’s the problem: no one is going to spend $250 to buy a console to play a touchscreen game. We already have phones that can play games like this.

    • But who said anyone is paying $250+$40 to play Kirby. The issue is whether Wii U owners will pay $40 to play a really good Nintendo game. I have and should be getting this game on Monday.

      • Right, but no one buys a console just to have a fancy piece of plastic under their TV. They buys them to play games. And a game experience that isn’t all that different from the ones on my phone and going to make me shell out $250 dollars. I need something that so different that I feel that there’s no other way to get that experience.

        • That’s assuming we haven’t already bough the Wii U because of all the great 1st party stuff on it. Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2, Pikmin 3, Wonderful 101, New Super Mario Bros U, Luigi U, etc.

  3. Good review. One question: how big is the download. My Wii U is running out of room.

  4. I’ve been on the fence with this one since I want a new Wii U game, but Canvas Curse wasn’t that enjoyable for me.

  5. Great review. You absolutely nailed it.

  6. really good review! Sounds like you really know the Kirby games.

  7. Just waiting for a sale at Best buy to pick it up. Even though I can get it for $32.99 (GCU), I’m still waiting on a price drop.

  8. Well written review. I’ve bookmarked the site and plan to keep coming back.

  9. Thanks for the review. I didn’t know this was related to the DS game.

  10. So you have to play with the Gamepad? I’d rather play on TV.

  11. Aren’t the Kirby games co-developed by Nintendo?

  12. I like the look of the game. How did HAL do it? Real Claymation or did they just CG it?

  13. Kirby is so damn cute that the kills. He’s worse that smoking.

  14. i bought this last Friday and absolutely love it. Level design is so good.