Straight up, Kirby’s Epic Yarn was one of the most enjoyable titles I’ve have the pleasure of playing in 2010. If it doesn’t find its way onto every top ten list at the end of the year it’s going to be easy to identify who skipped over this little gem. Yes, it’s without a shred of doubt aimed at younger gamers, but don’t let that dissuade you. Playing Epic Yarn was on the level of relaxation that I got from playing Flower or even something as easy going as a game of Uno with friends.
Since its announcement and first presentation at E3 the art style of Epic Yarn was all that most people knew about the title. The highly texture filled fabric and thread theme that runs throughout the title is absolutely stunning to see in motion, and even more so when you realize you’re controlling the little piece of yarn on the screen. Fabrics bend and warp as you walk on them, they fold and crease when you tug on them, they bulge when you slip behind them – the game keeps the illusion of a world made of fabrics alive and interesting throughout the ~6 hour gameplay time. Graphically, this game has all the bells and whistles – enemies get twirled into balls, the quality of the wool deteriorates on bosses as you battle with them, and even the clouds and snowballs that litter the world are made from cotton – nothing escapes the motif.
Seeing as the game is geared towards the younger set and families playing together, it’s no surprise that you can’t die in the game. Instead of penalizing you in that way, you simply lose a portion of the crystals and stars that you collect as you work through a level, not unlike how Sonic’s rings scatter when hit. Only this time – falling into holes or being out of crystals isn’t the end either, you can keep on trucking. The crystals are used in the game to buy furniture and fabric samples, which will let you decorate Kirby’s apartment, so it’s key to hold on to as many as you can.
With game worlds ranging from the ‘Nintendo standard’ of fire, sand and ice levels to one dedicated to sweet treats and even a space world. Each contains smaller levels where you must collect gems and eventually patches which will eventually allow you to face a boss character for each world. The bosses themselves are really amazing to look at, with some great work done by the artists in the game to keep the characters looking alive, yet still made out of wool. Some of the levels culminate with Kirby needing to transform into a specific form to complete a small task, be it UFO Kirby, surfing Kirby or a giant tank that shoots missiles. These slight diversions keep the otherwise very straightforward game fresh throughout, as each section is just short enough to keep you wanting more.
Don’t feel like playing this alone? Fear not – as two players can join forces as the second player takes the roll of Kirby’s acquaintance Price Fluff. In keeping with the ease of gaming, if players get too far separated or one player gets stuck in a spot while the other waits, that character can be instantly transported to where the other is. This makes gaming with kids much more enjoyable, as the frustration level of both them trying to get somewhere and from older gamers who are more able to traverse levels quickly is evened out.
The musical score and sound effects only add to the joy while playing the game. With it’s light and airy soundtrack, I found myself sometimes just looking around the levels and exploring and enjoying the experience. The sound effects, while almost overly cute, really fit the game. The spinning sound when Kirby is balling up an enemy is perfect, as is the sound when pulling on a zipper to expose a different part of the level. This game just works on all levels. Both long time and new fans of Kirby should really be checking this title out – it’s a definite hit.
- With it’s whimsical art style, relaxing gameplay and cute story, Kirby fans of all ages will be hard pressed to not get enjoyment out of this title.
Platform reviewed: Nintendo Wii
— Jeff Paramchuk