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Game Review

The pink 'n' bouncy hero known as Kirby is back. But this time he's facing new challenges ... and he'll need the help of a new partner.

In his last game, Kirby: Triple Deluxe (for the 3DS), the cute little ball hero from Dream Land lived up to his name and used plenty of sucking power to swallow up baddies and gain their special abilities. For this contest, though, he's left his vacuuming skills in the broom closet. Instead, he's out to make the most of the Wii U's touchscreen and stylus to solve his platforming puzzles.

Color Me Colorless
So what's happening in Dream Land now? Well, it seems a mysterious hole has opened up in the sky above Kirby's colorful, Claymation-like world, and it soon starts draining the tints and hues from everything. Then Elline, a paintbrush fairy from the land of Seventopia, comes popping through the hole too. We learn from her that the magician-like Claycia is using evil magic to drain the universe's color. And only Kirby and Elline can restore the rainbow-and-sunshine balance of things, by besting that pigment pilfering perpetrator.

After setting up that storyline, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse tosses gamers into 28 bite-sized stages of platform-jumping acrobatics as Kirby and his crew traverse and defend a series of visually charming lands.

A Stylus Way of Doing Things
Players don't control the ol' Kirbster through button punches or analog stick wiggles as you might expect. Instead they use Elline's paintbrush—in the form of the Wii U's stylus—to guide our hero with rainbow ropes or tracks drawn on the game controller's screen. So as Kirby rolls happily along, your sketched rainbow path will help him climb over obstacles or make his way to higher platforms and tougher foes.

That requires quite a lot of strategy. There's only so much paint available at any point, for instance. The colorful liquid recharges after a few seconds of non-use, but if Elline's brush goes dry while Kirby is hung out over a mountain cavern or surrounded by spikey baddies, well, he'll bounce off the screen with an "ouch" and it'll be back to the last checkpoint. In other levels, you'll need to tap a rope-climbing Kirby at just the right moment to get him spinning fast enough to bop or smash through obstacles in his path.

Elline has yet another skill up her brush-bristle sleeves that comes in handy. When she and Kirby run across a canvas and easel, she can paint a picture and transform Kirby from a rolling pink orb into a tank, a rocket or a submarine. As a tank, Kirby can shoot in any direction and bop scores of approaching enemies when players tap those foes. And those other forms offer similarly useful new abilities. Finally, when Kirby collects enough golden stars in his journeys, he can also power up to Hulk-like, smash-through-everything strength for a few seconds.

Finding Your Rainbow Groove
OK. You've already figured out that this game romps 'n' rollicks and smashes 'n' bashes whimsically through an obviously magical, fantastical world. And though it's a relatively straightforward platformer, Rainbow Curse definitely demands getting into a certain rhythm. Painting with short stylus strokes, and being aware of your abilities and surrounding threats is a necessity—especially in some particularly tricky puzzles and when facing some surprisingly lethal bosses.

Mastering Rainbow Curse, then, might prove a challenge for the youngest players. It's not that the obstacles are impossible, mind you. But the onslaught of traps and enemies—and the fact that the stylus demands that you stay glued to the small Wii U controller screen—can get frustrating. And that could very easily mean that Mom or Dad will have to tag in for little bouncing-hero support from time to time.

(Not a bad thing to do with any game, by the way.)

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Wii U




February 20, 2015

On Video

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Bob Hoose

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