I never thought we were going to get a follow-up to 2005’s magnificent Kirby: Power Paintbrush. It was a unique game in which our Pink Puffball hero was a ball, and we drew lines to move him about the levels. I never thought in a million years that we would get a follow-up to that.
Fast-forward to ten years later and that’s exactly what we got with Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush. The gameplay of Power Paintbrush is still here in Rainbow Paintbrush, and the stages are equally as inventive but there is one key difference. The graphics. Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush is one of the nicest looking games I have ever played. The claymation style is outstanding, brimming with colour and personality.
The aesthetics are incredible, and on more than a few occasions, all I wanted to do was stop to take in the lush, vibrant surroundings. Everything in the game is so happy and cute, I didn’t care that everything wanted to kill me because I had a massive, idiotic grin slapped over my face throughout the whole game. Even the bosses were joyous to behold, but I don’t want to spoil those.
Traditional copy abilities are sadly missing from the game, but Kirby can transform at certain times into a rocket, tank and submarine. Each transformation allows for a different style of gameplay outside of the normal level-design in the game. The rocket offers up some intense puzzle solving involving route-planning. The submarine slows down the pace, and works in a point-and-click style fashion, with you drawing lines to guide its missiles into the correct areas. The tank turns the game into a shooter, with you aiming the weaponry with the touch-screen, but just wait to see the ultimate shot with tank-Kirby, it’s spectacular.
Each of these transformations are great fun and give an extra dimension to the game outside of drawing lines to guide our spherical hero. As it turns out, drawing lines takes some getting used to. The game’s action is shown on the Gamepad and the TV screen, so you can just use the Gamepad, but the fantastic visuals of the game are wasted on its small screen.
You almost need to teach yourself how to draw the lines correctly whilst focusing on the TV. It’s certainly possible, but you will find yourself looking down at the Gamepad a lot, especially for the trickier sections of the game. Drawing lines not only guides Kirby, but they can be used to stop a waterfall, move an object such as a ball and even block projectiles. Getting your head around the two screens takes time, but it’s worth it once it clicks. If it never clicks, no worries, the game still looks great on the Gamepad.
Make sure the TV is on though, as you want the music in this game as loud as you can take it. The soundtrack is glorious. Kirby games have always excelled in music, and Rainbow Paintbrush is no exception. You can also unlock classic tunes by finding the treasure chests scattered across each of the levels. This is how you unlock character models too, which are great. At the end of each stage you will find a lot of bubbles containing items spinning around, you need to go into the one containing a book, as it will give you a page in a storybook that adds a little more to the story.
The plot sees you trying to return colour and life back to Dreamland, as it was stolen by some big, evil hands. It’s pretty much your standard Kirby affair, so those expecting storytelling on the level of The Last of Us will probably be disappointed. Collecting the aforementioned pages just adds a little more meat to the bones of the plot. The plot isn’t an issue at all, but the length is.
Unfortunately, Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush is incredibly short. I finished the game, and did a few extras in around eight hours. To 100% complete the game will require a little more time, but be aware that this is a very, very short game.
The game moves at quite a slow pace too, but if it was any faster it would be very difficult. As it is, the game is quite tricky, thanks in part to the controls taking some getting used to. You will find your lines not quite taking you exactly where you want, or obstacles proving trickier than they should be to get past. Some of the puzzles are hard too, often coming down to timing. There will be plenty of times where you only see a treasure chest after it’s too late to collect it, but you can replay the levels whenever you want if you really want it.
The boss battles can be difficult too, but if you have any Kirby amiibo to hand, then you can cheat the game a little if you want. The Kirby amiibo allows you to use the ‘Star Dash’ power at any time, which is a God-send for completionists, as the standard way to activate it is to collect 100 stars in the level. King Dedede gives you extra health, whereas Meta-Knight gives you increased attack for Kirby’s touch-activated spin-dash attack. The only catch to using the amiibo is that you can only use them once a day, on only one level.
Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush is a joy. The graphics are outstanding, the soundtrack is incredible and level-design is top-notch. The controls require a little patience, but the slow pace does help with that. This game’s biggest flaw is its length. It’s too short, but damn sweet.