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New clay Kirby game doesn't fall flat

Mar 6, 2015

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Kirby and the Rainbow CurseKirby's latest adventure, this time on the Wii U, proves that this adorable sphere can do no wrong. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse features rehashed gameplay mechanics from a previous game in the series, and an art style that risks being little more than a gimmick, but everything comes together to form a charming and adorable package.

Rainbow Curse borrows the line-drawing mechanic from the acclaimed Kirby: Canvas Curse, which appeared a full decade ago in 2005 on the Nintendo DS. It's an easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master concept: instead of walking, jumping, and floating from one side of the screen to the other, players tap Kirby to make him charge forward, and draw lines - which appear onscreen as coloured ropes - which Kirby will always follow obediently.

It's a fairly simple idea but the developers at HAL Laboratory, Inc, added in all sorts of puzzles and environmental hazards to keep the game and its admittedly short single player campaign constantly fresh.

Kirby and the Rainbow CurseOne example harkens to the game's title. Certain parts of the world have had their colour erased (hence the "Rainbow Curse"), and whenever you see these black and white sections, you'll be unable to draw the ropes on which you so heavily rely. If you see a treasure floating just above that black and white section, you'll have to figure out another way of getting up there.

You'll also use the rope as a shield to block bombs and lasers, as a net to catch dangerous Kirby-damaging threats, and as an eraser to uncover hidden doorways, treasures, and other goodies.

Most levels last longer than those found in your average platformer, although checkpoints are more than fair. The developers smartly sprinkled in levels that feature Kirby transforming into vehicles from past games, including a rocket, a tank, and a submarine. These levels do have their share of challenges, but generally speaking offer a more laid back experience.

Kirby and the Rainbow CurseEach world, meanwhile, culminates in a boss battle that forces you to think fast and draw ropes even faster.

All of these things are thrown at the player (though not in a haphazard way), making the game a delight. There may be a level or two that isn't your cup of tea, but it's not long before you're on to the next unique challenge.

And it is worth noting that while the first few worlds in the Rainbow Curse are a breeze to get through for the most part, the difficulty ramps up quite quickly. If you're the kind of player who needs to attain every hidden item, you can expect to play some levels several times in order to open up all the unlockables.

Beyond the campaign, there are dozens of challenge levels that task the player with grabbing a treasure chest in four consecutive rooms before time runs out. These offer a legitimately fun alternative to the single player campaign. These challenges are addictive, and I played many of them several times in order to complete all four rooms without failing. They also serve as a great way to train for some tougher challenges later on in the story mode.

Kirby and the Rainbow CurseYou'd better believe that you will need some practice. The game isn't always forgiving, and the longer you play the story mode, the more precise your rope drawing abilities need to be.

For instance, you'll likely find yourself quickly sketching a rope over and around some enemies or a particular object, only to have Kirby stop dead in his tracks because you accidentally drew under a corner somewhere. You'll learn quickly just how easy it is to mess something up, but during my time with the game, I was successfully conditioned to watch for these things, and eventually made far fewer mistakes.

I'd be doing a big disservice by not mentioning the art style on display in the Rainbow Curse. The entire world - including Kirby and every character - takes on a claymation look, and it truly is a feast for the eyes.

The game is the spitting image of a TV show like Robot Chicken (albeit with much tamer subject matter), and the artists behind the Rainbow Curse clearly had a ton of fun. When Kirby gets shot out of a cannon and hits a wall, he gets smooshed into a flat handful of plasticene. Every background object, meanwhile, looks like it was crafted from its own individual human being, with no two flowers or sections of a wall looking alike.

Kirby and the Rainbow CurseThe biggest shame about all this is that the player really can't admire the beauty of the game on his or her high-definition TV. It's virtually impossible to accurately draw ropes on the Wii U Gamepad while watching the game on the TV. As I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of precision involved, and you simply won't get unless you're looking at the Gamepad.

This may seem like a deal breaker to some people - many of whom may ask why the game wasn't simply developed for the 3DS - but not for me. Even though I was endlessly teased with the idea of not being able to truly admire such a gorgeous game on my TV, it didn't take away from a game that features superb level design, a thorough challenge, and a surprising amount of replayability.


Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
Format: Nintendo Wii U
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: HAL Laboratory, Inc.
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site:

Rating: 8.5 / 10

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