Saturday 6 June 2015

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse/Paintbrush

Oh Kirby, you try and you try and you try but you've never even gotten close to being as big as Mario. Since his debut on the Gameboy in Kirby's Dream Land back in 1992, he has always played second fiddle to the mushroom eating, star grabbing, coin collecting plumber that Nintendo is famous for. Well, not exactly second fiddle either, as he's far less popular than even Link, Zelda, Samus Aran, Luigi, Princess Peach and Bowser. So what's that, ninth fiddle? Anyway, though I've never been a major fan of the character of Kirby myself in the past, I have enjoyed some of his games in recent years. A new one is out now, and it's exclusive to the Wii U, the console that just can't get a break.

Developed by HAL Laboratory and out now on the Wii U comes Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (US) / Rainbow Paintbrush (everywhere else), yet another title that proves the console has plenty of life left in it yet. The plot is pretty basic and like any good platformer, it's merely a simple narrative structure that holds a bunch of cool levels together. The story revolves around Kirby and Waddle Dee witnessing a magical portal open directly over Dream Land. The portal is the evil doing of Claycia, a character that looks like a cross between a cute anime character and a gorilla. By opening the portal over Dream Land, Claycia has sucked all of the colour out of the once colourful and happy place. Now it's up to both Kirby and Waddle Dee to restore colour to Dream Land and bring it back to its former glory. Like I said, it's super basic stuff. But yeah, it works in terms of setting up some pretty nice game mechanics and great looking locations.

The first thing to realise about Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is that it's one of those games that embraces the unique features of the Wii U, namely the touch sensitive Gamepad bundled along with the console. Throughout the entirety of the game Kirby is in ball form, but rather than directly controlling him as you would like any other platforming game, you instead drawn lines on the Gamepad's screen that he'll then roll along. It's a concept that's hard to get used to, but soon you'll find yourself drawing ramps for Kirby to zip up, sketching platforms for him use in order to avoid certain death, and creating barriers between him and various harmful objects. This game mechanic works incredibly well with the Gamepad, and though some of the levels are pretty easy at the start, as the game progresses your skill and dexterity with the Gamepad and stylus becomes crucial. What's more is that these drawn lines for Kirby fade away over time, and you can only drawn only so much at once. Later in the game this keeps you on your toes, because as the levels get harder and more traps are in Kirby's way, you'll need to avoid wasting useless lines.

However, the only downside is that due to how important the Gamepad's screen is here, you'll often find yourself gawking at that during the game, rather than the action on your main TV screen. Though this leads to the game feeling as if it would have been better suited on the Nintendo 3DS, this drawing game mechanic is wonderfully utilised in creative and fun ways. The game also tries to shake it up a bit by allowing Kirby a chance to change his form. At certain set points during the game Kirby can change into a submarine, tank and rocket. Each form has its own abilities, and though each one uses the game mechanic of drawing lines on the Gamepad, when in these new forms it's for different uses. For instance, when using the submarine version of Kirby you're allowed to move where you wish, but your bullets will directly follow the path of your drawn lines, as opposed to the lines controlling Kirby himself.

Like almost every game that's given the Nintendo seal of approval, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse looks beautiful. Whereas Paper Mario was based around a paper-craft visual style, this game looks like Wallace and Gromit at times. Characters move in a classic claymation way, almost every clay object has finger prints impressed on them, while dropping Kirby from a height will flatten him into a pancake. The visual design is really stunning throughout, and it really does make for one of the most original and memorable looking games I've played it quite awhile, and that quality stays strong for all 28 levels.

Packed alongside Kirby and the Rainbow Curse are various trials and puzzles to undertake in Challenge Mode. These trials are timed and are gradually unlocked as you play through the main game. They're a nice distraction from the main game, but possibly the best aspect of the game is the fact that up to 4-players can play the main game at once. Though this does lead to the main game becoming laughably easy, with one character controlling Kirby and the other 3 taking command of Waddle Dee's, it adds an extra dimension to the gameplay that's really quite refreshing. You'll breeze through it pretty quickly, but if you're looking for a fun, charming and addictive game for all the family, look no further than Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse gets a hand-made 4/5.


Denis Murphy

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