Kirby's Canvas Curse was an early success story for the Nintendo DS, aptly demonstrating the platform's capacity for inventive touch screen-driven gameplay. Instead of assuming direct control of Kirby, players instead drew lines across vibrant backdrops to guide the pink puffball to each level's exit. The game was a unique dexterity test, challenging players to think ahead and draw lines quickly and accurately in order to keep Kirby from careening out of control.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse translates Canvas Curse's line-scrawling gameplay to the Wii U, and if the game's E3 2014 demo is of any indication, Nintendo's tablet peripheral is an even better fit for Kirby's serpentine adventures.
Rainbow Curse retains all of the basic mechanics introduced in Canvas Curse. Kirby, stuck in ball form, rolls through the game's colorful claymation-style environments, maintaining his momentum until he collides with a wall or an enemy critter. Tapping Kirby makes him dash forward, crushing enemies and destructible blocks in his path.
Players guide Kirby through the game's environments by drawing rainbow-colored lines on the Wii U GamePad's touch screen. When Kirby touches one of these lines, he latches onto them and travels in the direction drawn. This mechanic presents a number of unique traversal possibilities, ranging from simple gap-bridging lines to spiraling rollercoaster sketches that send Kirby flying skyward.
Kirby travels through sprawling multi-part levels that are made distinctly difficult by his limited but capable moveset. It's interesting to see familiar Kirby platforming elements recontextualized within Rainbow Curse's gameplay, as challenges that would be simple for Kirby's default platformer moveset are made much more difficult and interesting thanks to its indirect control scheme.
Kirby is also able to charge up for a powerful dash move that allows him to take out multiple enemies in a row. This move is crucial in bonus areas hidden in each level, some of which are timed and require precision dashing to complete. I also enjoyed the collecting element featured in Nintendo's E3 demo; by guiding Kirby to out-of-the-way areas and suspicious alcoves, you'll uncover hidden stars that add to your end-of-stage score, giving incentive to explore the game's imaginative level layouts.
If anything, Rainbow Curse's gameplay felt a little too familiar. Nintendo's initial beginner-focused E3 level didn't feature any major changes to the Canvas Curse formula, and its gameplay was practically identical. Regardless, it's been long enough since I've played Canvas Curse that I'm eager to play an expanded adventure presented in a similar style.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse will premiere exclusively for the Wii U in 2015.