Nintendo’s latest $40 title is another win for the Wii U.
Lately Nintendo has been setting what is hopefully a new trend for their first party games, pricing them below the industry standard of $60 for a new release. Last November’s Captain Toad: Treasure Track came in at the “bargain” price of $40, and the upcoming Mario Party 10 will be $50 for the base game, with the $60 price tag reserved for a special edition featuring a Mario Amiibo. Another title receiving the lower price level is the latest release for the Wii U, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is the follow-up to the Nintendo DS exclusive, Kirby: Canvas Curse. Now an exclusive for the Wii U, Rainbow Curse utilizes the same concept as the original: players use a stylus, and in this case the gamepad, to draw colorful paths for Kirby to follow as his main method of navigation. This lets you guide the title character to help a magic paintbrush return color to the world. It’s makes for an interesting platform/puzzle hybrid, as your time is used to navigate a character you can’t really move on your own – figuring out how to safely get Kirby from A to B is the meat of the gameplay.
The controls are mostly a hit, with the occasional misfire coming from the inherently cramped gamepad screen, especially when the action gets hectic, or when some of the tough boss fights require some incredible precision. The final boss battle specifically suffers from needing to be very accurate with your drawn paths, and having to use the gamepad leads to some unnecessary deaths. That being said, I would estimate around 95% of the time the stylus controls work fine.
Thankfully the variety of stages and clever ways to move through levels provide a solid balance to make the stylus gameplay never feel tedious. There are seven stages in the game, each with four levels. Each stage has it’s own theme based around another color of the rainbow and some new way to kill you. All the standard gaming tropes are present, from water to fire, and even “dead zones” where you can’t draw any lines to guide Kirby. Further variety comes from the vehicle missions that pop up every 3-4 levels, allowing you to transform Kirby into a tank, submarine, etc. Each stage also ends with boss level, which vary in quality, but always provide some level of challenge.
From start to finish, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse can be completed in around 5-6 hours, with only 28 main stages and no difficulty levels. However, the game does feature 40 challenge stages that can be unlocked, as well as collectible figures ala Smash Bros, different soundtrack pieces, and storybook pages, encouraging players to replay levels and scour for the full 100% completion.
Unfortunately the visuals are a major disappointment in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Are they bad? Absolutely not. Quite the opposite, in fact. They’re utterly gorgeous. Featuring a claymation style, Kirby is one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen. Therefore it’s really disappointing that you spend all of your time looking at the game on the small gamepad screen. Only if you play in the simple multiplayer mode can a second player enjoy the stunning 1080p, handmade visuals, so being forced to best enjoy it in a cramped style is a real shame.
Overall, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a delight. It might be a rather brief experience, but the gameplay is a treat and the visual style and presentation is almost second to none. Plus, with it’s $40 price point, it’s hard to deny that it’s another wonderful feather in Nintendo’s colorful cap.