E3 2014: Hands-on: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

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Longtime fans of the franchise know there are two types of Kirby games: the traditional fare like Kirby: Triple Deluxe, as well as a more experimental Kirby like Kirby Mass Attack or…Kirby’s Canvas Curse. Nintendo surprised us all during its Digital Event by announcing a brand new take on the gameplay precedent that Kirby’s Canvas Curse set: a game (tentatively, if I understand correctly) being called Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Many, many people consider the game it looks inspired by to be one of the greatest games available on the Nintendo DS. This time, Kirby takes the rainbow brush to the Wii U. And I think he’s better for it.

While I was waiting my turn, I watched someone play the water-based level offered in the demo. What he played reminded me of an intermediate level from Kirby’s Canvas Curse–the water-based physics pushed him forward, and he needed to decide what to do quickly before running into a Gordo…or a handful of them. I’m sure the final product will offer a decent balance of “advanced” levels like these and the calmer, more exploration-based level that I played.

E3 2014: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse | oprainfall E3 2014: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse | oprainfall
E3 2014: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse | oprainfall E3 2014: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse | oprainfall


Sure enough–it plays very similarly to the DS game that inspired it. One exception I noticed immediately is that Kirby needed to bash into star blocks in his way, instead of letting the player take them out by means of the stylus. There have been a few improvements to the gameplay formula…Kirby’s rainbow path feels tighter; it seems like what little frustrations I had with controls on the handheld will be all but evaporated. Tapping Kirby and propelling him forward feels more fluid to me…but maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I played Kirby’s Canvas Curse. Regardless, as far as gameplay goes: it’s definitely more of that. And it’s got a few new bells and whistles, like (when you collect enough stars) being able to hold the stylus upon Kirby to charge him up to blast forward and destroy metal/hard obstacles. It’s got treasure chests to find (I grabbed four out of five in the level I played; was really frustrated when I missed one) and plenty of secret paths. So much to look forward to in terms of gameplay!

The visuals, though, are where this game shines the most. Putting Kirby and the Rainbow Curse on the Wii U allows it to go far beyond what the DS (or the 3DS) is capable of. Everything was a joy to look at; the clay-based visuals make environments colorful and inviting. Curious if the final game will take advantage of the clay-based aesthetics in the same way that something like Yoshi’s Woolly World uses yarn.

This is definitely a game that will be worth waiting for, whether you’re a longtime Kirby fan or a first-timer. The gameplay is more of what series veterans loved on the Nintendo DS, and newcomers will warm up to the simple premise of guiding a ball of Kirby along a rainbow path very quickly and easily. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse launches on Nintendo Wii U in 2015.