Kirby is a useful franchise for Nintendo. Not just content with transformation within his games, the incredibly malleable puff ball is excellent at shifting genres. Sure, he’s well suited to his usual 2D platforming escapades, but he’s also just as comfortable anywhere Nintendo need him. Be it in a golf game, pinball, racing or puzzle game, he’s just as capable as Mario at trying his hand at anything. He’s perfect for experimentation.
So he we are at Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush (or Curse in North America), a sequel to the well received Kirby Canvas Curse on the DS. Having never played that game however, I can only comment on this sequel for the Wii U.
The story follows our little pink hero on his adventure to stop Claycia in order to restore dreamland back to its colourful self. The story is basic of course and generally inconsequential to the game as a whole. In fact the first cut scene barely lasts a minute to establish what is going on and nothing else happens to.progress the story until the end. If you want an engrossing storyline then this is not one for you.
The first thing that will instantly strike you is the art style. It is brilliantly bright and beautiful claymation at its video game finest. Alongside Yoshi’s Woolly World, Nintendo have recently shown that creative art styles can destroy any need for horsepower from the Wii U. Each asset looks hand sculpted and everything is animated in faux low frames per second to authenticate the style. It’s marvelous.
So how does the game play? Kirby, bless him, is for some reason only happy to roly-poly these days. He can be prompted forward by tapping on him via the Wii U pad screen; one tap will allow him to do a small attack, powerful enough to take out most enemies and destroy blocks that hinder your path. In this roly-poly state however, Kirby cannot jump. Instead you take control of Elline, a paintbrush fairy (hey, this is Kirby!), via the stylus. She has the ability to draw a rainbow rope that allows Kirby to take a ride anywhere you choose, as long as you have enough ink to draw. That’s not all she can do however. You can use her ropes to shield Kirby and also nullify any obstacles in his way. My favourite example of this is when waterfalls are blocking your way. You can draw a line through them to stop the water falling to the bottom. It’s simple but smile inducing.
It’s a great concept to base a game around. Unfortunately it’s also one of its hurdles. While not a major flaw, it can occasional be finicky trying to get Kirby exactly where you want him to go. He often faces the wrong way, doesn’t climb the rope intended for him or flies off somewhere you didn’t intend. The biggest issue with the game is that due to the mechanics, you end up staring at the gamepad 90% of the time while playing the game. It’s almost impossible to draw ropes accurately without looking at it. A mighty shame considering how gorgeous the game is. Player 2 is sorted though!
Aside from getting from one end of the level to the other you are enticed to collect as many stars as possible along the way. The greater number of stars you acquire, the greater your ranking at the end of the level be it bronze, silver or gold. To further persuade you to hoover up as many as possible, every time 100 are collected Kirby gains access to a powerful charge attack if the stylus is held on him for a few seconds. This can help to defeat bosses and also to pick up the other extra collectables: Treasure chests. There are 5 of them spread across each stage, either hidden, or teasingly presented in sight. Some of them are easier to collect than others but to grab them all in each level will often require more than one play through. Each treasure chest contains either a beautifully rendered figure similar to Smash trophies, or music from the game to view or listen to at your leisure.
To break up the standard gameplay, Kirby is intermittently given stages where he is transformed into a few vehicle forms: A tank, rocket and submarine. Each of them changes how Kirby functions and the responsibilities of the ropes. Out of all the transformations, Submarine Kirby is definitely my favourite. He constantly fires torpedoes which can be aimed via ropes, while he is moved with a point and click method. It’s also the vehicle that you feel much more in control of.
Each world is split into 4 stages and at the last stage presents Kirby with a boss battle. For me personally, the difficulty between bosses is up and down, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent difficulty curve. One disappointment is that there are only a few bosses to fight as the same ones are often repeated. Due to this, the later bosses can feel somewhat easier due to you already possessing the knowledge of how to deal with it from the previous encounter.
As with many Nintendo games, multiplayer is included with up to 4-player co-op in the main story. Other players can join in at any point and become a spear-equipped Waddle Dee to help Kirby in his endeavors. This is perfect for less skilled or young players who can play as Kirby, with the more experienced player being the Waddle Dee. In fact, my other half who can barely even look at games, let alone play them, enjoyed playing with me during the earlier levels.
Naturally, being a Kirby game, the main story doesn’t last too long, although it could be one of the longer Kirby games out there. There is however the replayability to achieve those gold medals and treasure chests along with a rather fun and difficult challenge mode for those who want to 100% everything. It might take awhile.
The music is brilliant. It’s fun, energetic and funky. The music fits each of the level themes well and includes a lot of remixes from previous Kirby games. The only probably I have is that it often remixes the main theme into almost every song. More original compositions would have been welcome, but it doesn’t detract from the quality of the sounds.
To conclude, Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush is a fun, interesting and beautiful game. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted and is generally more difficult than the usual Kirby installments. It may frustrate some but if you can look over some small issues with control and the fact you need to neglect the TV, it’s a decent game to have in your Wii U collection.
– Gorgeous visuals
– Inventive use of drawing ropes
– Offers incentive for replayability
– Dat music
-Repeated boss battles
-Need to stare at the gamepad throughout
– Sometimes frustrating controls