HAL Laboratory is no stranger to taking Nintendo's iconic Kirby character to new places. We've seen the pink puffball play golf in Kirby's Dream Course, battle his way through a gargantuan pinball world in Kirby's Pinball Land and even venture through a universe made entirely of string in Kirby's Epic Yarn. However, 2005's Canvas Curse was different from the usual platforming antics, rolling Kirby into ball form and having the player create his route by drawing a path on the Nintendo DS touchscreen.
Fans fell in love with the portable adventure, and they’ll finally be able to enjoy a sequel with Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, which will arrive for Wii U on February 20. Similar to the original effort, you’ll draw on the Wii U GamePad screen as you guide Kirby through many of the world's dangers.
Within each level, there's a certain amount of string that can be used, so drawing a route all over the screen probably isn't advised. That said, there's still room to maneuver, especially when it comes to defeating (or avoiding) enemies and collecting items.
Kirby speeds along at a pretty frantic pace, so it helps that you draw your lines accordingly, lest he fall off the level and you have to start over again. With that, you'll want to use inertia as your guide, drawing lines that safely lead him towards objectives – and past dangers that could otherwise bring his ride to a screeching halt.
Along the way, you'll collect stars scattered throughout each stage. Most of them are pretty easy to locate, although being a Kirby game, there are plenty of hidden ones throughout, making 100 percent completion a tough though not impossible task.
The stars provide the ability to make Kirby dash while he rolls around. Similar to Sonic the Hedgehog's spin dash, this allows him to gain speed that can quickly get him through a level, as well as break through blocks he wouldn't be able to destroy otherwise. Best of all, players can use this speed burst to their advantage in certain situations.
For example, to reach higher areas, players are encouraged to draw a loop, then send Kirby dashing so he gains enough speed to go flying into the air. It can take a little practice at first – just like in Canvas Curse – but it's fairly easy for players to learn and eventually, master.
You're not just stuck rolling around, however. Transformative powers play a role in Rainbow Curse, as you'll be able to turn the hero into a tank (ala Kirby's Epic Yarn), as well as a submarine and a rocket.
In addition, the game supports both GamePad and TV displays. Based on our play time, the GamePad seems to work best, since it provides better interactivity when it comes to drawing rope.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse also supports up to four players in co-op play, with one person drawing the path that Kirby is on, while the other three control Waddle Dees with Wii remotes or controllers. These characters play a part in keeping Kirby safe from obstacles (in case the ropes aren't enough) and attack certain enemies that get in the way.
There's also a challenge mode with 40 additional levels to complete, and each one will test the players' rolling mettle as they collect all the stars while avoiding danger. The more you complete, the more you unlock. In addition, players that have certain amiibo can unlock new abilities in the game. A Kirby figurine unlocks the Star Dash ability for use anytime in the game. Meanwhile, King Dedede (who releases next month) provides more hit points for Kirby to last longer, and Meta Knight (also arriving next month) gives Kirby increased attack power so he can bust through enemies and blocks easier than before.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse feels like a welcome return for the character, and there's no question that fans will dig the cute, claymation-like presentation. We'll see just how well this hero rolls when he arrives on Wii U in a few weeks.