Video Game Thoughts: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a 2015 platforming game for the Nintendo Wii U by Hal Laboratory and Nintendo. In the story, all the colors in Kirby’s world are sucked away by a mysterious beam that appears out of a hole in the sky. Elline, a paintbrush character, appears to explain that her friend, Claycia, somehow became evil and stole all the color. Kirby has his mission to defeat Claycia and return color to his world. Nintendo always likes to try something new with their games. This game does this in two ways: artstyle and gameplay.

Much like other recent Nintendo games, all the graphics have a theme to them. In Rainbow Curse, the theme is clay. Virtually everything is made out of clay from Kirby himself to the backgrounds to the enemies. It’s a similar idea to Kirby’s Epic Yarn (everything made of yarn) and Yoshi’s Woolly World (everything made of wool). The concept is not original, but I enjoyed seeing how they translated everything into clay. Most objects have a lumpy look to them and the animations are suitably clay-like. Because I’ve already seen this before, it wasn’t all that impressive, but it’s nice when games have a handmade touch to them.

The new thing in gameplay is that the entire game is played with the stylus rather than traditional button controls. Kirby automatically moves slowly until he hits a wall, then reverses direction. Tapping Kirby with the stylus causes him to do a spin attack to defeat enemies or just move faster. Lastly, the player can draw a rainbow rope on the screen with the stylus. If Kirby is nearby he will follow the rope. In this way, the player can draw elaborate paths over the screen to have Kirby collect stars and other collectibles.

There are some unique mechanics created by the touch controls. If the player draws a little loop with the rope, Kirby will gain a short speed increase. The direction the rope is drawn determines the direction Kirby goes when he touches it. The rope can also block bullets, lasers, and other hazards towards Kirby. This added a lot of skill to the controls that I only got the hang of in the last few levels.

The touch controls come with some downsides. Pressing a button is very easy, but drawing is not a universal skill. This meant the developers had to make the game easier than most platformers. While there are some quick parts, most of the game is pretty slow paced, giving the player maximum time to draw a good shape. Along with this, levels have no time limit. The player can many times take as long as they want to explore each level.

When Kirby loses a life, he gets to continue from the last door he exited. Most levels have several of these rooms with an entrance and exit door, meaning the player never has to do too much backtracking if Kirby dies. Also, if Kirby loses a lot of lives in the same level, the game has an option to skip that level without finishing it. The later levels have some annoying instant death scenarios, but they liberally placed extra life power-ups all over to compensate. I didn’t really like that they made the game easier than most platformers, but I agree that it was necessary. The controls would have been too frustrating otherwise.

As far as the traditional platforming, I really enjoyed the environmental mechanics and unique enemies in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. I had not seen these in other platforming games. I think they did a good job adding new things in each level. The only bad thing here is that there weren’t that many levels to play through. I don’t know if they ran out of time or the budget for this game just wasn’t that much to start with, but there are only 7 “worlds” with 4 levels each. That’s a total of 28 levels in Story Mode. A total of 7 worlds isn’t that bad, but 6 to 8 levels each would be more typical for a platformer. Just beating the game only took me around 10 hours, but there are other optional things to do.

Each level has several collectibles including a cute diary entry from Elline, one of three medals (bronze, silver, gold) depending on how many stars were collected in that level, and five treasure chests that award figurines of characters for close examination or music tracks to listen to in the music player. To get all these collectibles easily adds another 10 hours to the game. In addition, while playing through the story, challenges are unlocked.

Challenge Mode is the second gameplay mode in Rainbow Curse. There are two kinds: One-Minute Challenges and Survival Challenges. One-Minute Challenges contain 4 little puzzle rooms. Solving the puzzle unlocks a treasure chest. Unlike the treasure chests in Story Mode, these ones don’t contain anything. Each One-Minute Challenge has 4 treasure chests with medals awarded depending on how many the player gets.

Survival Challenges are much more difficult. They operate the same as One-Minute Challenges except there are 12 rooms with a treasure chest in each, and if you miss the treasure chest in one room, you don’t even get the chance to visit the later rooms. It’s a long gauntlet where perfect playing is required. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, but I do wish they had translated this work into more Story Mode levels. The Challenge Mode added another 10 hours to the game for a total of 30 hours to do everything in the game. There’s enough gameplay for the lower price Kirby and the Rainbow Curse sold for (around $40), but the length is not on par with most other platformers.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is one of my last Wii U games, so playing this game was bittersweet. This feeling kind of hampered my enjoyment of the game. I can see on paper that it’s a good game, but it also reminds me that I am moving on. I won’t be getting the new Switch console, for I am moving away from video games in general. I have a few unfinished games, but most of my free time now is focused on whatever God leads me to do. Right now he is leading me in a different direction, but things could always change in the future.

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