Nintendo has always made a name for themselves from mascot franchises. Donkey Kong, Mario, Yoshi, everyone who knows Nintendo knows these characters just by their name, if not definitely by their pictures. However, I feel that there is always one that is slightly overlooked, one that Nintendo doesn’t always keep in the limelight: Kirby. That’s a shame really, because I have often found that when they do make a Kirby game, it is a game that I truly fall in love with, and at the same time is an outstanding playing, looking, and atmospheric experience. Well, Nintendo has finally brought back the lovable pink ball, in the title Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and it is easily one of the best Wii games of 2010.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn takes a new direction for the series in terms of artistic style. All of the environments that you traverse are completely made of yarn. One day, Kirby is on a stroll when he comes across his favorite fruit, a tomato. He tries to eat it, but when he does, he realizes that it is the property of the evil sorcerer Yin-Yarn. He gets angry that Kirby is trying to eat his tomato, and zaps Kirby, as well as the world around him, into Yarn. Following this, Kirby also saves a young prince named Fluff, who explains that Yin-Yarn has separated the various patches that make up Patch Land. It is now up to Kirby and Fluff to stitch together the world once again and save the day.
It is a lighthearted premise, but ultimately it is the gameplay that makes up the bulk of your time with the game. Similar to most 2D platformers on the Wii, the Wiimote is held sideways as you play, with you simply jumping with the 2 button, flinging your yarn to attack with the 1 button and moving in and out of levels with the up arrow. The controls are not complicated, and can be picked up very quickly.
Your main goal in the game is to find yarn that can stitch together the main fabric of the world, but you also have gems that are scattered across each level. These are your currency in the game, and they are similar to Sonic’s rings, as in you do not die when you get hit, you just lose a large amount of the gems that you have picked up, and have to try to catch all the ones your drop before they disappear. At the end of each level, you have a tally in which you accumulate all of the gems that you gained through that level, as well as furniture and CD’s that are hidden in each level as well.
You will need all of the gems you acquire, as well as the furniture, because there is also another element to the game, where you can populate your own apartment. Similar to Animal Crossing, you are able to gain items as well as shop for them to decorate your house as you see fit. There really isn’t any reward to this other than finding some truly unique and interesting items, and having the coolest stuff in your house. Along with your own home, there are other homes in an apartment complex. However, with the other homes, the landlord that gave you your house has given special directions for you to place items in the other homes to attract certain guests. If you happen to attract these guests, you are able to play a mini game with them acquire more items for your own apartment. The mini games are simple and consist of traversing a small level searching for a number of little characters in a certain time limit.
Each main level has a particular elemental theme to it, ranging from grass to fire to even toys and candy. Each level truly stands out from one another, and makes for diverse landscapes that you need to trek across. At the end of the level, you go into a warp zone, and transform into a unique object with certain abilities. These can range from a tank, to a flying saucer to even a train. These are all really cool and add more depth into the gameplay. Each world also concludes with a boss battle against a giant yarn-made enemy, and requires a three-hit pattern to take them down. All of this is very standard for a 2D platformer, but there are some things that make it stand out.
First, each level is made of patchwork and stitching, and there are certain points in each level when you are able to scrunch together the fabric, in order to pull a platform closer, or to move upwards to a higher level. Also, there are multiple plains on which you can traverse, and there are times where you are able to go behind large objects in order to get items and gems that you need to. These two unique features make it stand out, and allow it to not just be too simple or straightforward.
However, at times it is surprisingly easy, and can be barely challenging. This can be kind of a downer for those of you that want a bare knuckle challenging platformer, and may turn off some of the old school gamers, but it doesn’t detract from the overall game. I would have liked a little more of a challenge as well, but I still enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t overbearing, and it made this game a good palette cleanser when I needed to take a break from other games.
The game also features a two player cooperative mode. The main controller still plays as Kirby, and then the second player comes in as Prince Fluff. You are not competing against each other individually, and are sharing the gems that you get, and adding to a cumulative score at the end. This causes you to be cautious, because you may be doing fine, but if your friend is not, you make not score high on the level. This mode is very fun, however I didn’t like the fact that you were unable to get very far away from your friend. I understand the design behind this, but there were certain points where we had to restart a level because I would get stuck somewhere, and the other player went far enough ahead that he could not come back. This cooperative mode is definitely a great way to continue the game, and get other people involved in playing it.
The art style is ridiculously gorgeous, creative and unique. Even towards the end of the game, I was still amazed at how they implemented the “yarn” art style into the game. Each level again has a particular atmosphere to it, and does something different every time. The music is also stupendous, and there are some amazing orchestral scores to be heard. The music goes along with each level, and fits into the atmosphere. The presentation is top notch and streamlined, with only a few ham-handed voice over cutscenes to break up the each world.
Overall, I cannot stress enough that if you own a Wii, you need to own this game. It is one of the most fun, unique and charming platforming games. With an amazing art style, and fun but not frustrating gameplay, it is a game that anyone can enjoy. Kirby again deserves more in this console generation, because if they can craft this incredible of a game, then they need to utilize his abilities even more. This is another outstanding addition to the Wii library.
Review copy provided by publisher.