Kirby: Canvas Curse was one of the first games where the Nintendo DS really "clicked." It was a game that felt perfect for that system, and it really sold the DS's touch screen as a worthwhile feature for brand new gameplay experiences.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse on the Wii U is more or less a sequel to that game, and while it's not nearly as revolutionary (or even as varied) as the original it's still an enjoyable experience made better by an incredibly charming aesthetic.
Rainbow Curse is played entirely on the touch screen of the Wii U GamePad. In fact, unless you're playing the game cooperatively with a friend, the TV is entirely irrelevant. Rather than control Kirby directly as you do in most of his other games, you guide Kirby around by drawing paths for him to roll on. Using the stylus on the GamePad's touch screen you create a rainbow rope that Kirby, as a pinball-esque sphere, will roll along, allowing you to take him toward items and away from enemies.
Tapping Kirby will make him dash, which is your own form of attack for most of the game. But combat is rarely the focus of any given level. You're going to be more concerned by simply getting Kirby to the end of the stage despite all the dangers in his way. You might, for example, need to draw lines on the screen to block lasers as Kirby rolls through their path.
This makes up the majority of the game, but on occasion things are mixed up by levels in which Kirby transforms into something new, like a submarine or a tank. You still control him with the touch screen, but instead of exclusively drawing lines you can guide Kirby more directly by tapping where you want him to go. These levels force you to think in a different way to get past their puzzle-like environments. In a submarine level, for instance, the lines you draw on the screen don't affect Kirby himself, but they do affect the torpedos he shoots, allowing you to curve your shots around the screen to get rid of blocks and enemies that are in your path.
For the most part, that's Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. It can almost be relaxing in its simplicity until you encounter a boss that has you frantically scribbling on the screen to beat. Unlike its handheld predecessor, you won't even be stealing abilities from your enemies (which is Kirby's signature move, despite not being something he can do in every game he's in). There's not a lot of complexity to the adventure, which makes it great for younger players but potentially monotonous for someone looking for something more action-packed. That's not to say adult gamers should stay away (I'm certainly glad I didn't), just that it's a game that game be played by all ages.
While the moment-to-moment gameplay can get monotonous after long stretches, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is consistently a joy to look at.
Kirby's last console adventure, Kirby's Epic Yarn on the Wii, was similarly pleasing to the eye. It featured a world made entirely out of yarn and fabric, and as a straight man I don't mind telling you that it was extremely adorable. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse trades yarn for clay - the entire game is done in with a claymation style that looks like it could have come out of the world's most talented elementary school art class. It's a great look, and the only shame is that you rarely get to see it on your nice TV since you spend most of your time looking at the GamePad.
If you have any of the Kirby-related amiibo figures (Kirby, MetaKnight and King Dedede), you can use each of them once per day for bonus power-ups that can help you get through difficult levels. It's nothing super special, but it's at least another use for the toys that' I've been collecting - but not really using - since they started coming out back in November.
In terms of pure gameplay, Rainbow Curse does not beat Canvas Curse as Kirby's best touch-screen adventure. Not only did that game have more interesting gameplay and level design, it was also a much better showcase for the DS hardware than Rainbow Curse is for the Wii U. Still, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a delightful adventure that put a smile on my face many times, and it's a fun addition to the Wii U library.
A download code for Kirby and the Rainbow Curse was provided by Nintendo for the purpose of this review.