At first glance, “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” seems to appeal to a younger audience with its overwhelming adorable art style where everything is made out of materials one would find in an arts and crafts store. Appearances can be deceiving however, and such is the case with “Kirby’s Epic Yarn.” The game is a great 2-D platformer for players of all ages and skill levels.
The first console Kirby game since 2003, “Epic Yarn” is a very different Kirby experience. Kirby is known for sucking up enemies like a vacuum to absorb their powers to save the day. In “Epic Yarn,” however, Kirby is made entirely out of yarn and can no longer eat anything. Another unique aspect is that it is literally impossible to die and fail. Kirby games have been short and simple in the past, but “Epic Yarn” removes failure entirely, making sure that anybody can finish the game. While the game does cater to the younger audience and is accessible to anyone, the hardcore will discover a lot to enjoy about the game.
“Epic Yarn” has all of the ingredients necessary to make a great platformer and it weaves them together expertly to stand up with the best of the genre. The game plays more similar to a Mario game than a Kirby game. Kirby has a nice weight to his jumps and although you can’t fail, the game is not afraid to present some tricky platforming. Even in the earlier stages it is fairly hard to avoid falling into bottomless cliffs when numerous enemies are shooting projectiles or charging straight at you. Kirby may not be able to inhale enemies, but his yarn whip is a useful replacement. Lassoing and unraveling enemies looks great, but it also serves to create a projectile ready to be thrown.
Similar to the “Mario Galaxy” games, every time a new obstacle or challenge is presented, it rarely resurfaces again. Every level is thus brimming with new mechanics and ideas. One aspect of this is that Kirby can manipulate his own body to transform into different things. This significantly changes the pacing from the core game. In one level, Kirby can transform into a massive tank and in another he transforms into a fire truck to extinguish flames. These transformations are a lot of fun and handle just as well as the core game.
Clever uses of the yarn aesthetic make sure the fancy style isn’t just for show. Zippers for example can be pulled to reveal new areas in the level. Buttons often stitch together parts of the environment, and pulling them toward you can compress the environment to open new areas or make it easier to navigate the current one. Kirby can even go behind the fabric. By entering certain doors, Kirby will appear as a bulge on the background and can navigate a hidden level. While these elements do appear frequently, they are always presented in a new way that is always impressive.
One will want to thoroughly explore every area if they want to see all this game has to offer. Gems are scattered around the stage and collecting and holding onto to these gems is the game’s greatest challenge. Although one cannot fail a level, one is graded upon how many gems one is holding on to at the end of the level.
Just as Sonic the Hedgehog loses a bunch of his rings when he is hit, Kirby loses a significant amount of gems every time he is hit. This is where the hardcore player can really have a good time. Every level has three medals (bronze, silver and gold) that can be collected based on the gems left over. Earning the medals is a great challenge as it is difficult to finish a level with enough gems remaining. One will definitely want to shoot for medals to unlock all of the extra levels and collectibles.
The core game is fantastic, but there is even more for good measure. Kirby has an apartment in the game called “Kirby’s Pad,” where one can arrange furniture collected in the game similar to “Animal Crossing.” New tenants move into Kirby’s apartment, offering mini-games, but only if one furnishes their rooms correctly. Even better, there is drop-in drop-out co-op play where a second player can play as Kirby’s new buddy, Prince Fluff. Co-op is awesome. It makes parts of the game easier and other parts harder, but is a lot of fun.
“Kirby’s Epic Yarn” is great for just about anyone. The game doesn’t punish those who just want to have fun, but also provides loads of extra content for the hardcore to pursue and earn. Unless you think you are too cool for a game this cute, this is one of the best games for Wii.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5