Stylus-ing and Profiling
Everyone’s favorite pink fluff is back, and as always, he’s accompanied by the same charm and inventive gameplay that we’ve come to expect from a Kirby title. Kirby and The Rainbow Curse offers an experience that dazzles in its visual spectacles and keeps you engaged with its familiar yet refreshing stylus/gamepad mechanic. Although it leaves little for you to dive back into it after a first playthrough, it’s still a game that Wii U owners must get their hands on.
This title isn’t the first in the series to feature the stylus driven gameplay mechanic, but it is by far the best implementation of it. Rainbow Curse abandons the traditional platforming mechanics in favor of guiding Kirby with the drag of your stylus. By moving your stylus across the gamepad screen, a glimmering rainbow line appears, allowing you to propel Kirby in the direction you need him to go. Although it feels moderately awkward in the beginning, after a while I was whisking Kirby through obstacles and bashing him against enemies.
Speaking of enemies, some of the most satisfying moments are the boss battles. Although I don’t believe it to be intended, the cute fluffy world of Kirby gives the illusion that this game would be a fun experience to easily sail through, but it actually provides quite the challenge. Each boss requires patience and excellent timing. I was forced to memorize the movements and attacks of my foes if I wanted serious shot at victory. If you thought that this game looked like a great introduction for a novice gamer - like I did initially - Rainbow Curse performs its due diligence in correcting that notion. It’s full of challenges, but the reward of triumphing over each level is quite fulfilling. But do not fret. This game does a great job of providing you with plenty of extra lives to keep the dream alive. If you like Kirby’s ability to shape-shift into different forms, then you’ll be delighted to see Kirby in tank form, submarine form, and several others.
Levels themselves are filled with secret passages and an abundance of collectibles. And that should come as no surprise, as Nintendo has traditionally rewarded the exploration of its games’ environments. Finding certain items unlock collectibles, which range from a gigantic list of music from the series’ long history to very detailed figurines that are great to look at. I’m not sure that it provides enough incentive to dive back into these levels, but I recognize that those dedicated Kirby fans will really appreciate it. I felt like these levels were a tad bit lengthier than were necessary. It never felt like a chore, but I wouldn’t have minded a minute or two shaved off of some of these 28 levels.
It’s not hard to tell that Rainbow Curse is 100% gorgeous. It has a unique flavor and tone that permeates the entire game. Its clay-animation art style reaches as far as to add slight fingerprints to the hand-molded world. We’re nearly 2 years into the next-gen phase and I am continually impressed with how great games can look on the Wii U, and Kirby and The Rainbow Curse is another example of that. However, the utilization of the gamepad introduces a paradox in which you have to focus on its screen, forsaking the more appealing visuals on your TV.
A hidden gem in all of this is the co-op gameplay. You and 3 of your friends can play through the game together. While one person controls Kirby on the gamepad, up to 3 other players using Wii Remotes can play as Waddle Dees, who can assist Kirby by carrying him around and attacking enemies. This offers a unique “game withing the game” moment where levels and obstacles take on new meaning - especially if you have friends that indulge in sabotaging each other.
I enjoyed my time in the world of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Not only was I charmed by the vibrant world but also by integration of the stylus and gamepad. My greatest compliment is that while I’ve been skeptical of the gamepad’s functionality, Rainbow Curse has molded me into a believer. It’s an experience that isn’t a masterpiece but it hits nearly every note with style. There’s no reason why Wii U owners should skip out on this title.