Kirby may not have the fame or stardom of some of his (or maybe her) Nintendo siblings like Mario or Donkey Kong, but each game in the franchise has been enormously successful and wonderfully consistent for almost 25 years. Kirby’s latest outing is no different, building on what has been established throughout previous games, while adding some new elements as well.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is fun and addictive, and is capable of providing hours of frustratingly enjoyable gameplay. It certainly isn’t an amazing game, and it definitely has its flaws. But if you can look past the things that it does wrong, you’ll be able to appreciate everything that it does right, and enjoy the game to its fullest.
The first thing I noticed about Rainbow Curse is that it looks brilliant. 2010’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn had an entire world made out of yarn and wool, and in similar fashion, Rainbow Curse appears to be completely modelled by clay, playable characters and all. The level of detail in each course is amazing, and the bright, colourful worlds throughout the game are total eye candy. Each of the twenty-eight story mode levels provide a different theme or motif, and each is completely unique from those around it. Whether it is deep forests, dry deserts, or rolling grasslands, Rainbow Curse has it all.
Rainbow Curse gives you a lot for the price tag that it carries. I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to purchase it for $44.99 rather than the standard $59-$69 range. Story Mode, as mentioned before, contains twenty-eight different levels, and can be cleared in about seven to ten hours, depending on how long it takes you to get used to the controls, which certainly aren’t easy to grasp at first. In addition to Story Mode, there is also Challenge Mode, which provides another forty-plus levels to conquer. So, all in all, considering the seven hour campaign, Challenge Mode, and the obligatory slaving for each treasure chest and gold medal ranking, Rainbow Curse certainly has a lot to offer in terms of length and replay value.
The game is essentially a spiritual successor to 2005’s Kirby: Canvas Curse for the Nintendo DS. If you’ve played Canvas Curse and are familiar with its controls and mechanics, you will certainly be able to see how similar the two games are. Rainbow Curse is a bit on the unconventional side as far as platforming games go, and I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me well over a minute to realize that the controls are based entirely on the Wii U Gamepad’s touchscreen. That means that you will not be pressing any buttons or moving any thumbsticks whatsoever while playing the title unless you are the second, third, or fourth player.
The controls are definitely a bit strange at first, unless you got used to them by playing Canvas Curse. Basically, Kirby constantly rolls along and gains speed as you tap on him, and when you need to reach a new platform, you use the stylus to draw a clay rainbow-bridge which Kirby will roll along rather than jumping like you would in a conventional platformer. This will likely be fairly divisive among players as far as gameplay mechanics go, and as for myself, I’m not a huge fan. My issues with the touchscreen controls are twofold: it makes the game feel like it should be played on a mobile phone or handheld game system, and you spend the entire time looking at the gamepad, not the TV.
I think that if Rainbow Curse had been released for the 3DS instead of the Wii U, I would likely enjoy it much more. I understand that Nintendo wants to utilize the Gamepad as much as possible, but it is better served as a secondary screen, not the primary one. I feel like I missed out on a lot of the beauty of the game because instead of viewing a 45-inch screen, I was playing on the small 6-inch screen of the Gamepad. I ended up feeling like I was playing a high-budget, platformer version of Cut the Rope. In co-op mode, whoever is in control of Kirby still suffers from this issue, but any other players get to use standard Wii Remote controls and have no need to view the Gamepad at all. While some may enjoy the full integration of the Gamepad, I found it distracting and underwhelming.
The multiplayer co-op element is a great addition to the game. It allows the player controlling Kirby to not have to loop back over and over for missed stars or items, and generally makes each level much easier. Other players can run along the rainbow-bridges that Player 1 creates, can assist in collecting items, and even pick up, carry and toss Kirby. And although I ended up being a bit jealous of Player 2’s unrestricted view of the TV and regular button controls, my enjoyment of Rainbow Curse was greatly enhanced when more players joined in.
Kirby enthusiasts might be disappointed by some of the series’ classic elements being overlooked in Rainbow Curse. The most obvious element that is left out is the ability to inhale enemies and steal their powers. You still gain cool power-ups like Tank Kirby and Submarine Kirby, but you won’t be stealing any abilities this time around. There is no jumping, flying, or even legitimate attacking. There is just a lot of rolling, tapping and swiping. This tends to make the game feel fairly repetitive at times, but for the most part, the varying level designs and increasing difficulty keep things interesting.
There are three Amiibo figurines that are compatible with Rainbow Curse: Kirby, Meta Knight, and King Dedede. I picked up the latter two in anticipation for this game, and I already had the Kirby figurine since its release date. After learning the controls and getting used to the flow of each level, I decided to try out the different powers that each Amiibo figurine gives. Using the Kirby Amiibo allows you to use the Star Dash ability at any time, which normally requires the collection of one hundred stars. Meta Knight slightly changes Kirby’s appearance and raises his attack power, and King Dedede likewise changes Kirby’s appearance, but grants extra health rather than increased strength. After trying all three, I placed Meta Knight back on the Amiibo scanner to get some extra attack power for another level. I was shocked to then learn that you can only use each Amiibo on one level, per day. There is no way to hide my disappointment with the Amiibo use in Rainbow Curse. If I pay $45 for all three figurines, I expect to be able to use them as often as I want. Only being able to use each power-up once a day gives the game nasty pay-to-play feel, which nobody wants from a console game.
Although I was initially disappointed with the controls and Gamepad integration, I ended up looking up a few hours later and wondering where the time had gone. Rainbow Curse is incredibly addictive, and once I got the hang of the controls, I was constantly testing myself to see how much speed I could gain, and how fancy or perfectly formed my rainbow-bridges could be. You won’t be able to help showing off your bridge drawing skills to whoever is in the room, even if it’s just yourself.
So if you’re looking for a way to sit back and kill a few hours, Rainbow Dream is a good fit. Kirby fans will definitely enjoy it, as will anybody who wants a fun couch co-op game, or a change of pace from typical Nintendo platformers. Just don’t expect too much from the Amiibo, and don’t bother using your TV unless you are playing co-op.
Forced GamePad integration holds it back
Single player is a chore, but players 2-4 will have plenty of platforming fun.