I never did check out Kirby: Canvas Curse, the DS title that shared the gameplay of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.
After playing through the Wii U version, I’m not apt to go back and check it out either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Rainbow Curse is a bad game. It actually has very enjoyable mechanics. I’ve just had my thirst quenched with the drawing gameplay.
What I would go back to the Wii U version to experience, though, are the graphics that definitely stand out in this generation of games. Like Kirby’s Epic Yarn, a new direction has been chosen for the Kirby series. This time, its clay, and it works great.
Before getting into the graphics, though, I’ll focus some more on the gameplay and story. Considering the reference to color in the title, it should come as no surprise that the story has a focus on color. All the color in the world has been stolen, so Kirby and Waddle Dee join up with the living paintbrush Elline to go around universes to recover the color of the world.
Like the 3DS title, you control Kirby not by running around, but by drawing paths for your Kirby ball to roll around. Kirby follows these rainbow roads up and down until he hits a wall or dead end, then either doubles back down the path or falls to a ledge below. However, unlimited paths can’t be drawn. You have a paint can that dries up as you use it and replenishes over time, or you can find paint while going through a level that instantly refills the paint for more roads on the go, perfect for longer segments without land.
The only other control you exert over Kirby is to tap him to do a dash to kill enemies or hit blocks, or hold on him to do a super spin dash to take out bigger blocks or multiple enemies. It’s very simplistic, but it’s perfect to get the younger generation interested in Kirby and away from mobile apps.
This simplistic control scheme actually becomes a puzzle in itself in later levels. While dashing, Kirby just rushes around everywhere without control, leaving you to put ropes ahead for him to control him without leading Kirby to doom. It sounds easy to do, but when you have a void below you with enemies around you it becomes easier said than done.
Besides moving around, the ropes are also used for defense and changing the terrain. Players will have to block lava and lasers, or dig through sand in some levels to keep progressing forward. The ropes can also lead you to various collectibles and stars, which is this game’s version of Mario’s coins. However, 100 stars get you a super spin dash, of which you can only hold a few at a time and allow you to break bigger blocks in the level.
While that may be the gist of the single player, the multiplayer is actually different and more enjoyable. While one player controls the ropes, the others are Waddle Dees, platforming around the level to help Kirby on the way. They actually control like normal Kirby games, being able to jump multiple times and attack around the area with their spears.
Unfortunately, the Waddle Dees have about half the health as Kirby, and can’t move forward without Kirby, but it’s a good tradeoff for the freedom of movement. Plus, the Waddle Dees can pick up Kirby and walk around with him. This can be great to get through the level or to get some items, but can also lead to some evil deaths and fights between friends.
The multiplayer also gives some miniboss fights not in the regular game. The evil hands that caused the disappearance of color will come back and attack the group from time to time, causing the Waddle Dees to defend Kirby with their spears. Kirby just has to keep moving away during the fight, as he is helpless against the hands.
Another small extra the game features is Amiibo support. Having a Kirby or Metaknight can give you a bit of extra power to use in the levels. It’s definitely not required, but having the extra help for having a puffball statue to display is handy.
Overall, there are 28 levels to march through, including some where you turn into a tank or submarine to wander through and some boss fights to take on. Additionally, there are 40 challenge levels to take on. Each one gives you 15 seconds to get through a room, and a level has four rooms to take on, meaning your rope game better be on target.
Now, to go back to the graphics. To say the game looks great seems like an understatement. The clay levels really pop out and look spectacular. It feels like something a person could make with stop-motion animation, similar to Robot Chicken, and not just a game. Even the little collectible statues in the game have had a ton of attention and detail put into them, leading to spending more time than you should looking at virtual figures.
HAL hasn’t been afraid to try different art styles with Kirby (look at Epic Yarn for instance), and the gamble has always paid off so far. Kirby is, by far, one of the best looking Wii U titles out there currently.