Kirby and the Rainbow Curse review

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse brings mobile gaming into your living room

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a weird and beautiful game, but it's an odd fit for the Wii U.
MSRP $40.00
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a weird and beautiful game, but it's an odd fit for the Wii U.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a weird and beautiful game, but it's an odd fit for the Wii U.

Highs

  • Beautiful, claymation-style visuals
  • Charmingly unique gameplay
  • Co-op is a fun, party-friendly diversion

Lows

  • Impossible to play on your TV

DT Editors' Rating

Like a pink, amorphous Nostradamus, Kirby foretold the birth of mobile games.

When Nintendo launched Kirby: Canvas Curse for its DS handheld in 2005, it was a revalatory moment. Using the device’s stylus and touch screen, players guided the globular hero around by drawing out a path that pulled him along, no D-pad needed. The iPhone revolution was still two years away, but little Kirby got there first. Now, a full decade later, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse brings that line-drawn thinking to a much larger screen.

Sort of. It gets a little weird.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse may be the world’s first mobile game that you can only play at home.

Rainbow Curse may be the world’s first mobile game that you can only play at home. Bound to the Wii U, and requiring the console’s touchscreen-equipped GamePad to play, Kirby’s latest adventure follows the same player-sketched path as its 10-years-gone predecessor: Draw lines to make the little fella move around, grabbing stars, sparkling food items, and other baubles as he avoids or rams into a wacky bestiary of Nintenemies.

It’s as satisfying as ever, if oddly out of place as a Wii U game. All of the essential play in Rainbow Curse is relegated to the GamePad’s touch screen. The action is mirrored on your TV, and its claymation stylings look gorgeous in motion, like Yellow Submarine rendered in Play-Doh. But your eyes are always cast downward, attending to the moving stylus as it summons thick strands of rainbow rope into existence. The TV’s larger screen is simply a distraction.

Your GamePad-sized window into Kirby’s world doesn’t diminish the simple joy of drawing lines to navigate trademark Nintendo platforming puzzles. Beefy strands of rainbow rope create temporary paths for Kirby to roll along, but that’s not the end of it. The rope doubles as a barrier, halting the pink hero’s forward momentum or shielding him from danger. Rockets and bombs explode against its rainbow strands, and straight lines carve a safe path beneath thundering waterfalls.

Kirby is always in motion, regardless of the dangers ahead. You can prod him to go faster with gentle taps of the stylus and reverse his course using rope barriers, but he never comes to a full halt. This sensation of non-stop movement serves to ratchet up the tension, as there’s always another danger to ward off, another bottomless pit to bridge. Much like Kirby, your eyes are constantly on the move, rubber-banding around the little guy as they hunt for threats.

The worlds, beautiful as they are in virtual claymation, are still classic Nintendo. Kirby starts out in a four-part world of rolling, green hills, a gentle introduction that mirrors the early Grass Lands stages of Super Mario Bros. 3. The sense of familiarity carries on throughout, from sandy deserts to bubbling seascapes to high-flying cloud palaces.

Its claymation stylings look gorgeous in motion, like Yellow Submarine rendered in Play-Doh.

There’s a loose structure to it all built, once again, on familiar Nintendo turf. Four levels per world; the last one is always a boss fight, and the third typically sees Kirby transform into some vehicle or another. A rolling tank, a torpedo-spitting submarine, and a bouncing rocket all require a fresh approach to familiar controls, whether it’s taps to target enemies and destructible blocks with tank shells or rainbow strands that carve a path for torpedoes to follow.

The first four worlds amount to training wheels, introducing basic concepts alongside a gently ascending difficulty. The final stretch roughly mirrors the game’s first half, but the levels are more crowded with enemies and obstructions. There’s a definite ebb and flow to the pace all throughout, with even the most challenging levels offering leisurely stretches between the harder bits, but leisure time for gathering stars, treasure chests, and other collectibles becomes an increasingly precious commodity during the later stages.

A Challenge Mode offers bite-sized puzzles that unlock as you progress through the story mode. Each Challenge room distills the core experience, ditching the story’s ambling, uneven pace in favor of time-limited exercises that test skills in extreme scenarios. Like many of the collectible hunts in Rainbow Curse, self-satisfaction is the only real reward for completing a Challenge room. But there’s enough here to sate the appetites of players that finish the story and are hungry for more.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse screenshot 3

There’s also a cooperative option inside the story mode that allows up to three players to jump in as spear-wielding, bandanna-wearing Waddle Dees. This is the only moment in all of Rainbow Curse that sitting in front of your TV becomes a necessity. The Kirby player continues to wield the GamePad, same as usual, but the (up to) three Waddle Dees use much more traditional platforming controls. Co-op is a cute, party-friendly diversion, but the introduction of more conventional play robs the game of much of its charm.

There’s a delightful simplicity in Kirby’s grand adventure to restore color to the world – that’s the gist of the story, by the by – that belies the punishing challenge at its heart. That core virtue of every successful mobile game is what propelled Kirby’s first line-drawing adventure to greatness, and it does so again here. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is weird and beautiful, yes, but it’s also confounding as a Wii U release. The little pink blob of joy saw the mobile revolution coming two years before it happened, but his continuing adventures are an odd fit on big screens.

This game was reviewed on a Wii U using a code provided by Nintendo.

Highs

  • Beautiful, claymation-style visuals
  • Charmingly unique gameplay
  • Co-op is a fun, party-friendly diversion

Lows

  • Impossible to play on your TV
Deals

Amazon Prime Day deals are ending, but you can still get great bargains

Prime Day 2019 has come to an end for Amazon, but that doesn't mean the Prime Day deals are over. With deals from Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon still going on, this massive shopping event is continuing on through the week.
Gaming

Get Nindie with it and check out these awesome indie games for the Switch

The Nintendo Switch's portability makes indies feel at home on the platform. Luckily, there are plenty of great titles to choose from. Here are our picks for the best Nintendo Switch indie games.
Gaming

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 with these awesome space games

50 years ago on July 20, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon. In celebration of their momentous accomplishment, we put together a list of the top ten space games.
Gaming

The best Nintendo Switch games, from Breath of the Wild to Rocket League

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Deals

Walmart extends Prime Day sale into Sunday: 4K TV, Apple, and Smart Watch deals

Prime Day 2019 has come to an end for Amazon, but that doesn't mean the deals are over. Walmart's Prime Day sale has been extended into the weekend. With 4K TVs, Apple Watches, and Nintendo Switch deals, there are great savings.
News

A fan re-created a FF7 Remake battle scene using Dreams and it looks awesome

Final Fantasy 7 Remake will arrive early 2020 but someone has made a modern spin on the classic JRPG using the tools available in Media Molecule’s Dreams. It follows the formula of the remake and looks pretty impressive.
Gaming

Clobber Innocence with this FFXIV: Shadowbringers Crown of the Immaculate guide

Congratulations on making it this far. This FFXIV: Shadowbringers Crown of the Immaculate normal mode guide will teach you all you need to know of this enduring brawl against the final Sin Eater.
Gaming

Did your PS1 favorite make our list of the best PlayStation games?

Take a stroll down memory lane with the 50 best games ever released for the original PlayStation. From all-time classics like Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil 2 to quirky gems like PaRappa the Rapper, the PS1 had it all.
Gaming

Here's where to find Xur and what he has for wares this week

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

Send Hades packing with our FFXIV: Shadowbringers guide to The Dying Gasp

The final stretch of the FFXIV: Shadowbringers storyline brings you here: to The Dying Gasp. If you're already feeling the pressure from past battles, you'll want to read on.
Gaming

History unfolds in this Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers Amaurot dungeon guide

Practically throwing you back in time with his fancy creation magicks, you'll bear witness to the calamity that befell Amaurot, the ancient city of his people. In this FFXIV: Shadowbringers Amaurot dungeon guide, we'll see you through what…
Mobile

Get your game on with the best controllers for Android smartphones

If you're looking to do some serious gaming on an Android device, you're going to need a gamepad. Here are the best controllers for Android games on smartphones and tablets, with rechargeable and wireless options.
Computing

The Keystone keyboard powers your typing or gaming with built-in A.I.

A new keyboard from Input Club, called Keystone, aims to improve consumer's typing response and accuracy by including an adaptive A.I. process in the hardware. By finding patterns in typists' behavior, it adapts for greater efficiency.