Looking for a game that combines the aesthetics of Earthbound’s Player’s Guide with the tricky, stylus-based gameplay of Kirby: Canvas Curse? Well, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is your huckleberry. While Star Fox and Metroid seem to pave the way for new technology, Kirby seems to be Nintendo’s leader in aesthetic experimentation.

 

At the very least, Rainbow Curse is the perfect visual complement to Yoshi’s Wooly World, both of which masterfully showcase the Wii U’s talent at creating eerily convincing textures.

 

The basics of Rainbow Curse are more or less the same as its predecessor: instead of controlling Kirby directly, you propel the puffy-pink hero along paths made of rainbow yarn drawn directly onto the stage using the gamepad and stylus. These lines are like escalators—Kirby will move in the direction they were drawn.

 

Tapping Kirby will give him a speed boost and help him knock obstacles and enemies alike out of his way. This becomes pivotal in some of the trickier areas, where you can create trick loops to find secrets or gather stars.

 

The E3 demo had three stages available—a beginner stage, a tank stage, and a *shiver* underwater stage. The beginner stage lets you explore an open, grassy area that eases you into the game’s basic mechanics (tap to propel Kirby, create paths for him to traverse). The tank stage turns the adorable pink ball into a war machine, letting fire away at enemies as the stage scrolls ever onwards. I was challenged by the gamers running the kiosk, so I chose to do the demo’s most difficult level: the underwater stage.

 

Don’t let the cute island setting distract you—you’ll soon be sucked away by underwater vacuums and propelled into dangerous caverns filled with mazes of spiky Gordos. In this level, it’s all about understanding the consequences of your navigation. Not necessarily the direction of your rainbow-yarn paths. You have to take into consideration the movement of the current, obstacles that will flip you around. One miscalculation can be the difference between an extra life and death.

 

It may take a while for folks to get used to Rainbow Curse’s control scheme, but once they do, there’s plenty to explore: cleverly hidden secrets are scattered about the levels, stars are placed in patterns that will test even the best of players. It might not end up being as intense as I suggest it is, but it has the potential to create some truly harrowing experiences.

 

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is slated for release in 2015.

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