One of Nintendo’s most simplistic, yet versatile, characters is about to receive its first outing on the Wii U. It’s in essence the sequel to the DS game, Kirby: Canvas Curse. Like that 2005 classic, Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush will bring an immense amount of fun and innovation, though it’s very short-lived.
More clay than Morph
As with most Kirby games before this you’ll embark on a colourful wonderland journey. Everything is bright and beautiful, until that one terrible afternoon. Kirby is chilling in Dream Land when suddenly a vortex opens and sucks away all the colours. Say hi to the villain, Claycia, who’s some sort of colour thief. She’s also called Claycia as the world she resides in, Seventopia, is made from clay. Not before long Elline, a acquaintance of Claycia, who can turn into a paintbrush, introduces herself to Kirby and they make their way up into the vortex to find and return the colours to Dream Land.
Everything is made of clay. Kirby, his surroundings, the paintbrush and everything you can think of. It’s another one of Nintendo’s clever ideas to play with different texture styles and materials. As magical as Kirby’s Epic Yarn was, the first time you laid your eyes on it, so this will light up your day. There’s nothing Nintendo left untouched. As with the Canvas Curse you’ll control everything using the stylus. Your aim is to draw (or paint) rainbows that Kirby can travel on. Tap Kirby and he’ll dash forward in the direction he’s facing. You’ll be doing lot of tapping as you’ll often find yourself drawing weird angular shapes that require you to keep the momentum going. Kirby will also lose health if you don’t dash him into a foe. It sounds simple, but you’re constantly drawing lines to access out-of-reach areas while keeping your eyes open for enemies. Then there’s other obstacles.
The story mode is not very long. It’s made up of 7 levels with 3 stages and 1 boss fight in each level. As with most Nintendo themes you’ll encounter various cliché stages that include lava, water, lasers and in some cases – a lack of colour that prohibits you from drawing rainbows. As this is your only means of travel it’s generally a puzzle solving technique on-the-go. You’re constantly keeping your eyes on the ink gauge in the top-left-hand corner of the screen. Run out of ink and your painting endeavours come to an abrupt end. Once you touch the ground the paint meter will instantly fill, but knowing how to draw precisely is a massive advantage to finish the later stages (Though scattered ink bottles will always come to your rescue). It’ll throw some tough obstacles at you. For instance, to stop volcano lava from burning or lasers from zapping you you’re required to draw a line at the starting point of the lava or laser beam so you can sneak underneath or over it without being hurt. Draw the line incorrectly and you can cancel that rainbow by drawing another over it. Boss fights will also require you to use your noggin by painting Kirby out of harms way. Thankfully Kirby has a trick up his pink sleeve.
One for the money, four for the game
Kirby can perform a Star Dash by tapping and holding (for him to wind up), and then letting go. You do however require 100 Star Points which then allows him to bash through solid walls, which generally host tough-to-get-hold-of treasures. It’s also a great way to access keys, switches and out-of-reach launch cannons. He can also transform into various forms that, should he and Elline find a canvas (which is a very linear scenario), he’ll transform into a weapon that’s just about unstopable. He can tranform into a Kirby Tank, Kirby Submarine and Kirby Rocket with their own unique abilities. Collect 100 Star Points and you can activate a special attack for each form.
For those of you who might find the challenge a bit tough, there is multiplayer support. It works similar to a game of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on the SEGA Mega Drive where Tails was not quite ‘Player 2’, but more of a helping hand. Waddle Dee will join you to help gather items, food to regain health and defeat enemies. There is a catch. Of course there is. It’s Nintendo. They’re not going to hand you a free ticket. Grab Hand (which is part of Claycia’s evil doings) will randomly appear. Once defeated the two, three or four of you can move on. Then there’s amiibo support.
Three amiibos are supported and they grant Kirby abilities to help him on his journey. Kirby amiibo will provide him with unlimited Star Dashes, King Dedede amiibo increases maximum health and Meta Knight amiibo speeds up the Tap Dash which helps Kirby make short work of opponents. The catch? You can only use it once per day. Die and that’s it for you on the day. All your powers vanish. It feels a little cheap, especially considering that the story mode will last you no longer than 7 hours, so you’ll likely only try each amiibo twice at most.
Once you’re done with Story Mode you can attempt the Challenge Mode, which will add another 2-3 hours of playtime, but that’s as much as you’ll get from this, unless you love virtual figurines, the music and the pages of a secret diary. The above-mentioned treasures will unlock clay figurines and music which can be accessed as you would in Super Smash Bros., but there is unfortunately very little to no replay value. Once you’ve found all the treasures on every stage you’re pretty much done with the game.
Who needs TV’s anyway?
There’s one more thing. You won’t need a TV to play this game. Being exclusive to using a stylus converts this to a ‘Gamepad-only’ game. You can still play using the TV, if you wish to increase the difficulty. Whenever you touch on the Gamepad the ‘touch area’ shows up on your television, but it feels like you’re the one with the steering wheel and another handling the pedals. It feels quite disconnected.
At the end Kirby fans are in for a treat. It’s exactly what you’re hoping for and more, seeing the ‘Gamepad-only’ function does not bother you. It’s not a long game, but point out a Kirby game that exceeds 10 hours of play and you’ll have a tough time doing so. If it’s your first Kirby entry you’ll discover very quickly what’s so magical about this paintbrush, just don’t expect the length of the game to be all unicorns and rainbows.