|Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
(Nintendo, Wii U)
Replay Value: 7.0
Overall Score: 8.2Pros: Rainbow rope’s unique, tough challenges, fun environments.Cons: Game’s too short, no online multiplayer, Kirby needs more emotion.
The powerful, puffy, pink ball of cuteness returns with a brand new game that is as unusual as it is compelling. Thankfully, the folks at Nintendo took their time to craft a game containing originality, adventure and a decent story.
The story begins with a short scene that has no dialogue. Yet it needs no words. Chasing a shiny red apple, Kirby rolls about toward a lake and bumps into Bandana Waddle-Dee, who’s fishing. Suddenly, the blue sky opens up to the heavens. Down comes a rainbow-like ray of light that makes the world devoid of color, a dull black and white. Elline, a flying fairy, comes down from the sky to return the color to Kirby and Waddle-Dee. But that’s all she can do. After she paints a shimmering rainbow rope and the three walk up through the portal in the sky to bring color back, your adventure begins.
Drawing the rainbow rope
This game’s all about that rainbow rope, which almost seems alive as it shimmers with sparks and a swirling helix of colors. Using the stylus and the touch screen portion of the Wii U controller, you draw the rope to move up hills and around obstacles and enemies.
Kirby attaches to the rope like a sticky acrobat. Tap Kirby and he goes really fast. Hold the stylus to the screen and he grows to become a giant who can break through walls. You can draw the rope into a circle, too, to make Kirby grab a sphere of stars. As a kind of defense when drawn overhead, the rope can also protect the round one, but not from all enemies.
One of the most awesome things about the rope is how versatile it is. For instance, say there’s a rushing waterfall you need to pass under. You can draw a straight line through the water and the water stops long enough for your to move beneath.
A blast from the past
If you’re familiar with the Kirby games (which actually have been around since 1992), you’ll recognize one of the early bosses. Whispy Woods appears at the end of the Green Valley levels. His power isn’t just as stationary a mighty oak. This formidable opponent takes deep breaths through his round, open mouth and blows you away with a mighty wind as you try to get close and whack at him.
He shoots out twisty vines, spiky, blow-up mines and stinging bees that can steal your lives in moments. So you have to draw that rope carefully, away from the mini-enemies but toward Whispy Woods. At its toughest, it’s like threading a needle — and that’s just the easiest of bosses.
Go for the gold
At the end of a level, you’ll be given a rating and a bronze, silver or gold trophy. You’ll also collect music from the game and a variety of character figurines. Re-playability comes in with trying to get gold on every level.
And you’ll find multiplayer for up to four pals (but not online). This mode makes it easier to eliminate bosses. But it has its drawbacks. If you’re not playing as Kirby, you can only use the rope as, say, a bridge to walk on. But you can’t swiftly roll along the rope like Kirby does.
Challenging timed challenges
The hardest portions of Rainbow Curse are the timed challenges. These come to you in groups of four. You have just fifteen seconds to complete each challenge. So it can be maddening to win four out of four for a precious gold star. You really feel the tense pressure every time. While you can win some simply by drawing a line to a treasure chest, others make you kill enemies and draw a line to the treasure. Having to complete two or three tasks in just seconds can make you want to pull out your hair. If you accumulate enough gold-ratings, you won’t open all the challenges. So keep practicing.
The look of Rainbow Curse is new. Drawing with the rainbow rope is fun that never gets old. But there’s not enough here to make this edition of Kirby feel really alive. He’s always cute, but he’s not as lovable as he has been before in, say, Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Yes, he becomes a rocket or a submarine during the course of the game. That’s cool. But he’s so workman-like. While Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a good game over all, this particular Kirby needs more soul and more emotion.