Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (2015) Review

(Originally written for Youtube Mar 6 2015)

The spiritual successor to Kirby’s Canvas Curse, a very early title for the original Nintendo DS, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse updates the same draw-to-platform mechanics of that game to the Wii U, and brings with it an entirely new aesthetic.

The story, like those in most Kirby games is entirely unimportant. Something bad happens in dreamland, and Kirby, with his new paint-brush friend, and some Waddle Dee’s, if you’re playing Co-op, are the only ones who can restore everything to normal. What’s important to get from this story is that, for some unexplained reason, the entire Kirby universe is made up entirely of clay, and that Kirby is entirely too lazy to do any work what-so-ever, which is why instead of normal run-and-jump platforming, it’s up to you to guide the rolling ball of a protagonist to the goal.

The gameplay is incredibly intuitive. Everything is controlled using the stylus and touch-screen. To guide Kirby from the beginning of the level to the end, you have to draw a rainbow path through the level, making sure to avoid all the obstacles and pitfalls. You can tap Kirby once to give him a quick boost of speed that allows him to hurt enemies, or, after collecting 100 stars, hold the stylus to Kirby make him do a charge attack capable of obliterating enemies and otherwise unbreakable walls in his path. And, for the most part, that’s all the input the player has. Kirby can transform into either a Tank, Submarine, or Rocket, but they just add wrinkles to the control scheme rather than change it up outright. Aside from menus, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is played entirely without buttons, and this incredibly simple and intuitive control schemes is one of its biggest assets.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse constantly, and with great pacing, adds new ways to play with these limited controls, and by the end of the game’s twenty-something levels, you’ll feel as though the developers have exhausted every avenue of play they could have possibly squeezed out of this simple control scheme.

The game’s four bosses, of which three are used twice provide novel tests of skill of your grasp of these controls, and even the tried-and-tired Whispy Woods feels like a completely original challenge…the first time, that is.

Aside from just completing levels and besting bosses, there is a lot to collect in Rainbow Curse. Each level has at least four treasure chests to find, some of which are fiendishly hidden in the level, or locked behind legitimately difficult challenge room, where you’re given only 15 seconds to reach the treasure. And these collectables are entirely worth getting if you can nab ‘em. They either unlock more of this games brilliant score, or music from other Kirby games to listen to in the sound test; or incredibly realized clay models of in-game, or sir-not-appearing-in-this-game Kirby characters. These models are like the trophies in Smash bros, being viewable in 360 degrees, and coming with very entertaining descriptions. Also, the amount of detail put into each one is admirable, and makes the most of the game’s clay aesthetic.

Speaking of the aesthetic, the only word I can really find to accurately describe it is “unreal.” Kirby and the Rainbow Curse does not look like a video game. Watching it in motion, actually playing the game feels like something that shouldn’t be able to happen. The game is almost too beautiful, the clay looks too real, as if someone had photographed an arts-and-crafts diorama. From the way Kirby bounces off enemies and walls, to finer details like fingerprints left from molding the clay, it is obvious that the developers spared no expense in making the game looked like it hopped right out of a palette of play-doh. Looking at the game it is easy to imagine exactly how this world would smell and feel like in your hands. It is simply incredible.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is one of the most charming games I have ever had the pleasure to play. Some people might call it a little short, and it is a shame that so many of the bosses are reused; but the game more than makes up for it with incredibly strong and solid mechanics, and an undeniable adorableness. And for a reduced price game, at only $40 at launch, you get a great deal for your money.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse gets an 8 out of 10.

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