Years ago, I got my hands on the fantastic Kirby and the Canvas Curse. It was a new type of Kirby game, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Charm, cuteness, and fun gameplay mechanics really helped to highlight the dual screens on Nintendo’s latest handheld console at the time. 10 years later, we now have a spiritual successor in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, but this time around it is for Nintendo’s home console, the Wii U. Does the gameplay transfer over well to the newest iteration of a Nintendo dual screen system?
Visuals – 9.25/10
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is absolutely gorgeous. Vibrant colors, excellent animations, and well designed levels and character builds are found throughout this title. Simply put, this is a great example to show off your Wii U to friends, pointing out the expertly crafted graphics and art style as eye candy.
Never did I grow tiresome of any world, thanks to the level designs, nor did I meet an enemy that didn’t fit in with the clay-made world. The attention to detail in the game is phenomenal. Every little dimple on Kirby as he rolls across the screen, the ground giving way as Kirby drops from above, little clay stars appearing when an enemy is defeated; I was amazed by the detail in Rainbow Curse. The exemplary job the developers and artists performed, in regard to the visuals, helps to not only build a fun world to explore, but makes the title incredibly endearing.
If I could sum up the visuals, it would be that word: endearing. Everything was created with care, and it shines through for our eyes to behold. When Kirby is low on energy, a bandaid appears on his little head – though he pretty much is just a giant head with arms and legs to begin with – and he has a look of exhaustion upon his face. When in water, Kirby suddenly dons a cute swimming mask. When transferring from one area to the next within a level, there is a “fade out” of sorts in which clay is unrolled to cover the screen. The backgrounds are blurry and out of focus, giving them depth, yet they don’t feel cheap or tacked on; they display a sprawling land fully made of clay. I cannot emphasize how much I enjoyed the look of this game.
I have two complaints, however; one being very minor, while the other is somewhat of a hindrance. Firstly, I would’ve liked the environment to be more interactive with puzzles and gameplay, much like Kirby Epic Yarn. Yes, there are some uses of the clay environment, such as having to “wipe away” clay to reveal hidden areas and items. Overall, though, I felt it could’ve used a little more environmental puzzles and capitalized on the outstanding art direction in the game.
My other complaint is that when playing single player, I was staring at the GamePad the entire time. Now, the game still looks great on the GamePad, and I greatly enjoy the gameplay mechanics, but when I took a moment to look up at the TV and see how glorious the title truly looks, I realized this was a flaw. Rainbow Curse is outstanding on the TV, and it gets me excited for titles like Yoshi’s Woolly World, so having to stare at the GamePad the entire time does take away from the graphical flare a bit. This is by no means a deal-breaker, but it is worth pointing out. Outside of this, however, Rainbow Curse looks absolutely brilliant.
Audio – 8/10
Rainbow Curse does an exceptional job with the audio, as well. Both general audio and the memorable compositions are intensely cute and well constructed.
From Kirby’s adorable grunts to the various bumps, bonks, and thumps, the audio cues in Rainbow Curse are well placed. Everything fits, without being overbearing. A game like this can easily get too “cutesy,” so using appropriate audio cues and clips really matters. Thankfully, HAL Laboratory walks the fine line between endearing and overbearing.
What I enjoyed with the audio cues is how they affected my gameplay. For instance, when I approached the end of a level, not only would the background darken to black, signifying the end was nigh, but there was a specific noise mixed with music that signaled the final act. The sound adds to the experience, creating a splendid mix between audio, compositions, and gameplay.
The various musical pieces sprinkled throughout Rainbow Curse do an exceptional job as well, fitting into the look and feel of the game without being too cute. There are both familiar and new compositions, as well. The music manages to stay fresh and robust throughout the entirety of game, and some may even get stuck in the player’s head. For instance, I had this one stuck in my head once I heard it.
The one downside to the music in Rainbow Curse, at least for me, was the lack of orchestral compositions. A title like this, with such artistic flare, would benefit from orchestral compositions giving the little game a grandiose feeling. What do I mean? Well, have a listen to “Green Greens Version 2” from the Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U official soundtrack.
The lack of orchestral compositions doesn’t hinder the overall audio experience in Rainbow Curse, however, and thanks to decent variety and quantity of musical pieces, the audio remains solid.
Gameplay – 8/10
If you had the chance to play Canvas Curse on the DS, then you will be right at home with Rainbow Curse. The player uses the stylus to draw rainbow lines which guide our heroic pink puffball around each stage, while tapping him to speed up and/or take down enemies. For each 100 stars collected within a level, a “star dash” is made available; the player taps on Kirby and holds for a few seconds, then releases to have Kirby launch to take out enemies and specific walls. Finally, the player has a set amount of life bars – which can be filled back up by food or drink – that, once depleted, make the player lose a life. The mechanics are simple, but still manage to be somewhat deep.
Rainbow Curse can be played solo or with four players total. When playing multiplayer, the first player uses the GamePad to direct Kirby around the level, while the other players use the TV to run around each level (since they don’t seem to curl up like Kirby does, for some reason). Multiplayer is fun, and works well enough.
Each regular level holds five treasure chests to be discovered, which contain rather neat clay statues of characters that can be viewed in the Figurine Showcase, and have the option of earning a bronze, silver, or gold medal. The medal earned at the end of each level depends on how many stars were collected. These collectibles/achievements serve well to extend gameplay without being too much; there isn’t an overload of collectibles to be obtained. One final type of collectible are pages from the Secret Diary that are obtained at the end of each regular level by having Kirby roll into them in a spinning selection wheel. The pages are fun to look at, featuring nice little animations and diary excerpts from Elline.
Within each world, there are three levels and a boss battle to be completed. This is where Rainbow Curse does not improve upon its predecessor: bosses are rehashed and reused. The player will fight bosses more than once, with the boss having undergone a slight skin change. The boss battles could’ve been very creative and memorable, but instead, they end up being somewhat cheap and easily forgettable. The character designs are fine, but the fact that they are re-used is a let down.
In addition to Story Mode, there are many challenges to try out as well. Much like the regular levels in Story Mode, each challenge offers a consolation prize or a bronze, silver, or gold medal as a reward. How fast the player completes the challenge affects which prize is earned. The challenges themselves are ok, though they could’ve used some more creativity; essentially, they boil down to “collect everything within a certain time period.” Challenges ended up feeling tacked on and more of a grind than anything.
What I found to be one of my favorite aspects of the gameplay were the transformation levels. Kirby turns into either a tank, submarine, or rocket; each having its own unique gameplay mechanics, and adding some fun levels into the mix. These levels were all incredibly fun, designed nicely, and help to create variety in the level designs. The transformation levels helped to get past the lack of interactivity with the environment, which I think was a missed opportunity. As stated before, I would’ve liked to have more puzzles and visual/gameplay interactivity like Kirby Epic Yarn.
Overall, the gameplay in Rainbow Curse isn’t anything new when compared to Canvas Curse, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The few hiccups – such as boss battles, challenges, and lack of environment interactivity – do not affect the game too much; Kirby is still fun to play.
Entertainment Factor – 8.5/10
To put it simply, I had tons of fun with Rainbow Curse. At the time of this writing, I have put in almost 15 hours of gameplay with some collectibles left to be obtained. Rainbow Curse isn’t incredibly difficult, but it isn’t a pushover either. The difficulty curve steepens by World 4, and some levels require your developed skills up to that point. The gameplay felt just right for this title, making it accessible to all ages, but difficult to master completely.
As far as story goes, Kirby and his buddies are suddenly attacked by some menacing hands sucking the color and life out of Dream Land. Luckily, Elline paints Kirby and Waddle Dee back to life so that they can head to her world and save the day. There isn’t much story told again until the final act of Story Mode, which is a bit sad, since the cutscenes are so well done (I had a good chuckle at Kirby’s interaction with an apple at the beginning of the game). The gameplay does make up for the lack of story told, but I would’ve liked more story, personally.
Finally, the usage of the GamePad is well done. One of the drawbacks is that the player cannot really focus on the TV, which is much prettier than the GamePad, but the gameplay more than makes up for it. The game is played entirely with the touch screen and offers a fun way to experience Kirby. I’m glad that this title will be able to give gamers who didn’t have a chance to play Canvas Curse another opportunity to test the gameplay. It’s unique, fun, and (for the most part) well implemented.
So, is Kirby and the Rainbow Curse worth your time and money? I believe so; outstanding art direction, nicely done audio, unique gameplay, and solid mechanics make this title a nice addition to a Wii U library. The flaws in the title are usually hiccups, with the focus being solely on the GamePad being the only big drawback. But, even that is a overshadowed by outstanding gameplay. I recommend Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, which is available right now for $39.99.
Overall – 8.4/10