I am one of the filthiest, dirtiest, crawling through mud console peasants you could ever hope to meet. My glands salivate at the merest thought of my current beau the Wii U because Nintendoes what the other two don’t: produce great games.
I am a fan of the Kirby games for the Gameboy and have dabbled a little in the home console series and so I was looking forward to playing Nintendo’s latest release Kirby and the Rainbow Curse which came out around a month early for us folks in Japan. Story and plot take a sideline in this title as Nintendo tries to show off what it’s good at, creating new and innovative gameplay mechanics.
Unlike other Kirby titles where you control Kirby with his infamous sucking and blowing skills, our pink ball of cute is keeping decidedly tight lipped as you use rainbow ropes to guide his ever rolling form around the levels. Is this completely frustrating? Yes, but kind of in a good way. The levels aren’t so difficult to navigate, and this complex gameplay element creates the challenge that this game is screaming for.
There are other interesting elements that Nintendo has hesitantly introduced. In several levels you play as rocket, submarine or tank Kirby each with their own interesting gameplay styles, and in one level you control two Kirby’s simultaneously in order to make it through.
Nintendo has also integrated amiibo functionality into the game seamlessly. Using the King Dedede amiibo increases your health by two points, Kirby allows you to super charge at any time you like and Meta Knight adds bonus attack power but with frustrating to control consequences. While this could seem similar to titles such as Assassin’s Creed Unity‘s micro-transactions where you can pay simply to finish the game more quickly, Nintendo has limited the use of each amiibo to once per day. This means that the players advantage through purchasing amiibos is limited and the perks are simply for those who are already keen amiibo collectors like myself.
The elephant in the room is obviously the gorgeous claymation art style. Nintendo has been playing with different art styles for a while and you can see this attempt in Kirby’s Epic Yarn. But the use of claymation here sent me straight on the nostalgia train back to Skull Monkeys for the PS1 and was definitely a welcome visual. The music is cute, fun and really suits the title in every way.
Despite all these positives the title did let me down somewhat. With just 28 playable levels it is disappointingly short (around 4-5 hours) and seems more appropriate for an indie than a AAA game. Collectors will find several more hours available to them through unlocking chests, figures, Kirby art and challenge modes, but for simple players such as myself they will feel a bit disappointed. In Japan, it’s only a $30 title and for that I feel I got my money’s worth. However, buyers in more expensive locations might want to wait until there’s a sale.
Another thing which Nintendoes is amazing local multiplayer. While the player using Kirby is restricted to the gamepad to draw the rainbow ropes and tap to roll faster, other players can use Wii-motes and buttons to control their characters. While this is a big plus in terms of social gaming, being forced to play in single player leaves you at a huge disadvantage. Here your second player can use their expendable lives to clear the path for the less dispensable Kirby. At times without my second player though I think I would have become so frustrated the gamepad would have met with an accident.
In conclusion, this is a great title with new and unusual gameplay mechanics which really play to Nintendo’s strength in innovation. I enjoyed my time with Kirby, though I think significantly more because I had someone to play with and wished that we could have had a little longer together. It’s certainly worth the $30 I paid for it but when comparing it to Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker a game at a similar price point, I would have to recommend the latter.
Innovative gameplay, but too short and not enough story for me to give a better score.