Kirby & The Rainbow Curse on the Wii U is a franchise that allows itself to be played by both casual and hardcore fans alike. The levels are interesting and complicated enough for the extreme gamers while being casual enough for those that just want to dip their toe in the madness.
Kirby has a long history in the world of video games dating back over a decade. 'Kirby and the Rainbow Curse' is the latest continuation in what is surely one of the most storied franchises of all time. The game was developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Wii U in 2015. It released to mostly positive reviews but we felt that it wasn't quite getting the credit that the game deserved. Harnessing the new strength of the Wii U hardware along with the customization offered through the unique controller, the game explored new territory while staying true to its nostalgia driven roots. Let's dive into this platformer and see if it matches what you need out of a video game.
Back in Dream Land..
We find ourselves back in Dream Land with Kirby and the rest of the gang when suddenly a giant mysterious hole rips open the sky, pulling all color from the world. Kirby is soon confronted by a paintbrush fairy from Seventopia and it is through her that he learns his mission: Kirby must put an end to evil Claycia in order to save his world. And with that mostly hard to decipher plot we are off and on our next great adventure as the original pink blob of fun. It isn't an elaborate set up and it hardly is unique but the story is enough to drive younger audiences forward while giving older audiences a little bit to chew on.
Upon picking up our controller we were immediately struck by how vivid the game looks. While the Wii U is typically scoffed at in regards to its power, when compared to the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, the console was the perfect home for the continuing adventures of Kirby and his gang. The colors on screen, always a strength with Nintendo products, absolutely pop off of our televisions in beautiful HD. Looking down at our controller allows us to see the art style up close. It's beautiful and nostalgic all while driving the game into the next generation of gaming.
Fundamentally what we are getting out of 'Rainbow Curse' is no different than the myriad of other platformers that the guys at Nintendo have released over the year. As Kirby you will fly, float, eat, and transform your way through a world of colorful bosses, intricate puzzles, and amazing music. There is one solid wrinkle that changes the core of the gameplay in a unique and fascinating way: the stylus.
Like in the original version of Rainbow Curse, for the Nintendo DS, the Wii U iteration relies on players drawing the path that Kirby will take with their stylus. You don't directly control the pink wonder with the D-pad and thumbsticks. Rather you use your stylus to draw a path for Kirby to follow. Be careful though as you only have so much ink to be able to move around and direct your on screen character. It is a bizarre way to play the game and for many casual players it might be a deal breaker. We found, however, that after an hour or two of playing the concept became second hand nature and we were able to bounce forward with little thought to the different set up of controls.
While Kirby may seem like one of the lighter characters in the Nintendo pantheon, the game doesn't let you feel too safe or comfortable. Once you get into the groove of the controls you will find Kirby barreling down screen in a flurry of movements and actions. You will have to be on top of your game at all times as the levels get increasingly harder. Soon you will have to dodge sneaky traps, enemies that can kill you with one hit, hard to decipher bosses, and insane level constructions. The challenge in the game is out of this world if you are coming from the perspective that the game is for children. However, the truly determined gamer will quickly find the concept rewarding and adjust accordingly.
'Rainbow Curse' has 28 different stages for gamers to push their way through and the bulk of the campaign will take you around ten hours to complete, if not a little less. The game emphasizes forward momentum in the game, both literally and conceptually, and you'll find yourself pushing forward rather than dawdling about. Indeed this may be one of the most divisive facets of the game: you are in a hurry. Not controlling Kirby directly makes you conscious of the way you move the character. Exploration isn't encouraged and there is a focus on speed over style that may irk some gamers. We are living in the age of sandbox video games, and this is definitely an averse way to approach the topic.
For those of us that actually end up taking the time to explore, there are some things to be found. The game takes a page out of 'Super Mario World' with its hidden items, collectible trophies, and various other completion challenges. This gives the game some replayability and serves to extend your experience, if only by a little bit. You can unlock fun statues and musical samples as well along your way.
On the whole the first time through the game you should find yourself in an almost unblinking focus. The various levels are gorgeous and they run the gamut from soaring sky levels to underwater missions all the way to volcanic ruins. The graphics are sparkling and Kirby has never looked better. His jumps, floats, flies and sucks up his enemies with the same charm that we've known for so many years.
Some gamers will complain about the length of the campaign but we can't find ourselves too bothered by it. Kirby & The Rainbow Curse on the Wii U is a franchise that allows itself to be played by both casual and hardcore fans alike. The levels are interesting and complicated enough for the extreme gamers while being casual enough for those that just want to dip their toe in the madness.