Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is what you’d get if you combined 2005′s Kirby: Canvas Curse with Gumby. Rainbow Curse is a direct sequel to the DS original, but it’s been long enough since we last played that everything seems fresh. For those of you unfamiliar with Canvas Curse, the general concept is this: By playing entirely on the touchscreen you are able to draw lines for Kirby to follow. Whenever he touches a line that you’ve drawn he will follow along until the end, while tapping Kirby or sending him through a loop will causes a speedburst that can be used to defeat enemies or break blocks. Rainbow Curse operates exactly in this manner, only this time it has replaced the hand-painted graphical style with claymation.
I only had time to try the introductory level and it immediately brought on flashbacks of Canvas Curse. I guided Kirby through the stage by drawing lines and attempting to collect stars and defeat enemies along the way. Not much has changed in terms of gameplay aside from a few new blocks and moves for Kirby. The one that stood out most was a super charge: By tapping and holding on Kirby, you’re able to make him spin super fast and grow twice as big, allowing him to break normally unbreakable blocks and defeat enemies in his path. It’s also worth noting that Nintendo says the game will feature transformations, something which was missing from Canvas Curse but has been present on some other Kirby games. According to Nintendo, Kirby will be able to transform into a rocket, tank, and submarine that will give him new abilities.
Graphically, one thing that really stuck out to me was the animation. In general, most objects and enemies have a fewer frames of animation than you’d expect; this is a deliberate choice by the developers to further the claymation look. Don’t get me wrong, the game is very smooth and responsive, but the animations are just choppy enough that when viewed from a distance the entire game looks like a legitimate, fully claymation film. That’s quite the accomplishment. Much like I said in my preview of Yoshi’s Wooly World, the effect is convincing enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if the team at Nintendo actually modeled every character and object out of clay and scanned them into the game.
Kirby: Canvas Curse was an incredibly innovative and fun game and I’m glad Nintendo is returning to that style. Furthermore, it makes me happy to know that the Kirby franchise is a testing bed for new graphical styles. From the brief time I spent with the title I can already that Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is going to be a very good game and a work of art in motion.