The upcoming Kirby game seems a bit familiar. I say that in a good way. Nintendo had a little surprise up their sleeve this E3 with the reveal of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for the Wii U. Developed by HAL Laboratory, Inc., Kirby’s new game is actually a successor to the critically acclaimed Canvas Curse on the DS. Now when the original DS launched, the library took it’s time to build up, but for me, it was Kirby Canvas Curse that really showed off the potential the system had to make wonderful use of the touch screen for gameplay.
That potential is still very much alive in Rainbow Curse, and now with an all new Claymation style. The Wii U gamepad gives you a much larger surface to draw your rainbow lines on and really feels right at home. Touching Kirby makes him do a short dash attack that could hurt enemies or break blocks, so fans that have played Canvas Curse will feel right at home. During my gameplay demo, I was given three levels to choose from, the beginner level, the water level, or the tank level. I felt confident in my abilities and skipped the beginner level, taking on the water level for my first taste.
Right from the start, the clay style showed so much tender love and care, moving in subtle yet charming frame animation to give it that stop-motion feel. Kirby, again in a ball form for the game, rides the lines in the direction you draw on the gamepad. The trick with the water level is that Kirby actually floats, so instead of making Kirby ride above the line, you have to draw the line above Kirby so that he doesn’t float up. As I traversed my way through the flowing underwater jet streams, avoiding spiked Gordo’s and collecting stars, I felt a bit of a rush. This level was definitely made more for skilled players (as the demo had told me when I skipped the beginner level), as I was constantly drawing lines to avoid the various traps. I caught myself constantly running out of my rainbow “ink”, having to wait until it automatically refilled so I could continue my path safely.
Certain moments had blue stars that activated events, one of which put me in a sort of rectangular loop tunnel, where stars flowed clockwise, despite the current flowing counter-clockwise. I drew a line in front of Kirby to prevent him from moving as it made the stars come to me, making an extra-life appear as I collected them all. After a couple minutes, I ended up beating my first level with a platinum medal, the best the Nintendo representative had seen someone get so far apparently. I really enjoyed it, though as I moved onto my second level, I had realized the Nintendo representative failed to tell me about the new star power until I tried the tank level, which like the name suggest, has Kirby in the form of a cannonball spouting tank.
New to the gameplay mechanics is a temporary power-up that allows Kirby great new abilities. Collect 100 stars, and you have the ability to activate new attacks. I found out that in the scrolling tank level, this made Kirby’s mouth load up several missiles, shooting at my target of choice. This allowed me to break iron blocks that contained a treasure chest, allowing me to collect it as I went back to shooting regular cannonballs with the simple tap of the touch screen. You’re able to stock up two star power-ups at a time, being able to break them out whenever you wish. This adds a little strategy, as the levels are riddled with hidden secrets and challenges, some of which are timed and require a bit of speed to maneuver through. Using the star power makes it possible to access hidden areas or activate some of the special challenges, and I can see this adding some depth for a hardcore player to enjoy, as each level that I played had four hidden treasure chests to collect. After surviving an onslaught of flying clay enemies that attacked me, I finished the level, again with a Platinum medal.
I have to say, I really loved Canvas Curse, beating the game 100% with all five characters, twice! After my brief demo, I’m looking forward to seeing more of the clay style, as well as more of Kirby’s new powers and transformations. It’s also a nice change of pace for the iconic pink puffball, as his most recent outings have been lacking in the challenge department, so it’s nice to have a Kirby game that needs a little skill to complete. With a 2015 release in sight, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse has marked a spot on my radar and I can’t wait to add it to my Wii U collection.