Not since Kirby Canvas Curse have I been so excited for a game so adorable. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Kirby, but it hasn’t been since his 2005 dual-screen debut that the pink ball of fluff that is Kirby has had a starring role in anything truly fresh and unique.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn pits you in a world crafted entirely from string, yarn, buttons, zippers and fabric thanks to the heinous and evil work of an evil sorcerer with a magical sock. Wait, what? Yeah, it’s as whimsical and childish as it sounds, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. I like realistic violence and gore as much as the next guy, but I love adorable, whimsical, imagination-driven tales twice as much. And thanks to Kirby’s brilliant art direction and impressive storybook-esque narrative approach, this is a game that’s had my full attention since its announcement.
We’ll start the review off with the game’s most innovative and interesting aspect: the visuals. As you can tell by simply looking at a handful of screenshots, Epic Yarn is absolutely gorgeous. But when you see it in motion, everything really comes together. The bright colors of the foreground pop off the bright colors of the background, everything is created from fabric and string, the animations are fluid, and the bosses are captivating.
In regards to visuals, Epic yarn is probably the most visually innovative game I’ve ever seen. It’s clear that a slight influence was likely taken from Little Big Planet on the Playstation 3, but Epic Yarn always has it’s own unique identity, especially when partnered with the brilliantly gorgeous and utterly enjoyable soundtrack and audio effects.
And don’t worry, if you’re thinking Epic Yarn is simply way too cute for you, it is. It’s way too cute for anyone, I don’t care how young or utterly flamboyant you are, this game is simply too adorable. But the fact that it is too cute will not alienate any Kirby or Nintendo fans from wanting to play this, because despite being nauseatingly adorable, it still manages to come off as simply charming. And any notion one may have about being too hardcore for this game will forget all about that once he gets his hands on it.
The gameplay is, while certainly traditional, very excellent. I admit that there isn’t really anything groundbreakingly innovative here, as was the case with Wario Land: Shake It from the same developer, the gameplay strengths lie in excellent level design and traditional, accessible controls. The Wiimote is held sideways, NES style, and nearly everything is handled with the D-Pad and two buttons. On the occasion players will be asked to tilt the controller to perform certain tasks, but that’s it.
Purists may be surprised to learn that Kirby no longer has the ability to inhale enemies, as he is now made entirely of yarn, but he can still transform. At will, players can turn into a car to move faster, a parachute to fall slower, and Kirby turns into a small tractor when pulling zippers and a Christmas ornament-type ball when swinging from grapple points. There are certain parts in certain levels where Kirby will do change drastically — be it a giant missile-launching tank, UFO, Fire Truck, or digging machine — but like I said, this only happens in designated spots in certain levels.
The most obnoxious thing by a long shot about Kirby’s Epic Yarn is the fact that you can’t die. At all. No matter what. Instead, players are tasked with collecting “beads,” and when hit those beads scatter Sonic The Hedgehog style. Only in Sonic, you die when you’re hit with no rings. In Epic Yarn, nothing happens. This makes the game embarrassingly easy, but making it to the end of the level isn’t the goal in Epic Yarn.
Instead, you must collect as many beads as possible to advance with a medal of either Bronze, Silver, or Gold, and during boss fights you must surpass the gold amount by a certain amount to gain access to additional, more challenging levels within each world.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn could easily be beaten in a week’s rental, but I still feel the game is worth a purchase. There is enough extra challenge in getting gold medals throughout all levels to warrant the price. Bundle that with the two-player coop mode which is an absolute delight (though no where near as engrossing as New Super Mario Bros. Wii), and you’ve got a game that you’ll easily want to come back to again and again, just like a true Nintendo classic.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn is an absolutely outstanding gaming experience. The neglect of traditional conventions such as death and innovation of standard gameplay mechanic partnered with creative visuals and gorgeous music help to create an immensely unique and engrossing title that will be sure to have you feeling engulfed throughout the entire duration of the game. There are a few shortcomings to be sure, but they are easily ignored in light of everything that Kirby’s Epic Yarn does absolutely right.
Oh, and don’t worry about it being “too cute.” If you are a fan of great games, you will love Kirby’s Epic Yarn.
Score: 9.0/10 (Outstanding)