Published Feb 20, 2015It's easy to like the hot singles off an album, but hardcore fans live for the deep cuts. So consider Kirby a Nintendo deep cut, a character who has been around since 1992(!) but who has never enjoyed the recognition or acclaim of the Mario Brothers or Zelda's Link.
But that's just fine, because fans of the ever-adorable pink puffball are secure in our knowledge that his side-scrolling platformers are among the best Nintendo puts out.
Kirby is actually a co-production with original creator HAL Laboratory, and because it's HAL's primary focus, and because of Kirby's not-quite-iconic status, the series has been allowed to get wildly experimental over the years.
Kirby's most impressive last-gen console appearance was Kirby's Epic Yarn, which re-envisioned his world as being built out of arts and crafts materials like, well, yarn. Instead of textiles, this time Kirby's environment is constructed out of clay, an unorthodox art design choice that gives the aged franchise an immediate freshness.
The control scheme, however, is actually pulled from the DS experiment Kirby: Canvas Curse. That 2005 game was essentially a tech demo for the then-new handheld in which players used the stylus to draw lines for Kirby to roll across rather than the traditional platformer controls, which have otherwise remained constant from the old-school era to the 2011 throwback Kirby's Return to Dreamland.
In fact, the game even omits the series' traditional power-mimicking skill set, because you're not actually controlling Kirby yourself; rather, you control a paintbrush fairy named Elline who paints the rainbow ropes that guide Kirby along.
This Curse sequel, however, is on the Wii U, not the 3DS, which is a somewhat odd choice. Although Nintendo's living room console has a touchscreen controller and stylus like its smaller sibling, it's difficult when the touch controls require you to stare at the gamepad instead of the TV. A co-op player can watch the big HD screen, but the main or solo player has to settle for their low-resolution small screen or try and watch both at once.
This isn't a deal breaker, though — at least, not for me. I've taken to playing it just on the controller with the television off because it's just that much fun to lead Kirby through the seven increasingly challenging worlds, ranging from ocean to volcano themes, of brightly colourful Claymation cuteness.