Kirby's Epic Yarn Review
The perfect game for anyone who likes platformers, sewing, adorable pink puff balls, or fun.
Those who played previous Kirby titles will reminisce moments of sucking up enemies to steal their powers and puffing up Kirby's body to fly through the air. Kirby's Epic Yarn contains neither of these features. The new yarn-based Kirby adventure is quite a bit different from any other, and even cuter than usual. Kirby is turned into a yarn figure after running afoul of a yarn sorcerer who sucks the little guy into a sock and somehow transports him to an entire yarn world called Patch Land. Here, Kirby cannot suck up enemies or fly, but he can turn into a parachute and slowly float down, or turn into a large weight and crush enemies below. He can also grab yarn enemies with a length of yarn and roll them up into a yarn ball to throw at other enemies. You'll be surprised at how well the yarn motif works.
The game's tutorial is quick, yet sufficient, since the controls are simple and easy to get used to. Kirby walks a bit slow, but you can double tap the directional button to transform into a car, which is accompanied by an adorable little honk. Did I mention that this game is cute? Moving with Kirby is always smooth and satisfying, whether on the ground, in the air, or underwater. There are many shiny beads to collect in each level to appeal to the raccoon in all of us, as well as special items which can be used to decorate Kirby's apartment, which is there to justify the collection of beads. The apartment building also houses five cute little tenants, which you earn after finding items and/or paying lots of beads. The tenants play minigames with you, which will earn you different fabrics which you can use to further decorate your living space. Playing decorator leaves a lot to be desired, but the minigames are fun and sometimes even challenging, and are a nice break from the main game.
Probably the biggest complaint about Kirby's Epic Yarn is the difficulty level, which is quite low. I was surprised to learn that you can't actually die in the game. The only penalty for getting hurt is losing beads, which for a completionist is still bad, but early on you have to make an effort to get hurt. The game doesn't present any kind of challenge until you get past the halfway point, and then only if you insist on getting all of the items and a gold medal on every level. It makes for a pretty short game.
Some of the most entertaining parts of the game are when Kirby transforms. In certain levels, Kirby will transform into a tank, a monster truck, a snowboarding penguin, or a rocket ship with serious firepower to name a few. Most of these are very enjoyable. However, one of the transformations can be seen as broken: the train. Here's the joke: this is also the only part of the game (besides decorating the apartments) where you point the controller at the screen and attempt to use the Wii's motion controls. Players must draw a track on the screen to get the Kirby train over obstacles to tems, and every kink in the track is liable to send the train falling to the ground. For someone who has less than steady hands, these (thankfully rare) parts of the game can be a nightmare. I don't know how this managed to get by quality control.
So ends the part of the review where I complain. Everything else about the game is great. The visuals in particular are fantastic. I hope whoever came up with the yarn idea got a large bonus for their genius. Each level is an adorable yarn-based masterpiece, adorned with tons of small yarn-related details, from the stitching on the grass to the googly eyes on the fabric dinosaurs. There is so much variety that it's impossible to get bored, with each level having a distinct theme and new kinds of obstacles to overcome-repetitive is not a word that can be used to describe this game. Every effort is made to incorporate the yarn theme into the game's environments, from allowing players to swing from buttons to letting them pull on loose threads to scrunch up parts of the level, opening up new areas. Levels are well-designed and easy to navigate, with a good amount of secret areas to keep things interesting (even if you don't need the beads found there). The music is classic Kirby, with a generally cheerful tone that is never annoying and sometimes rather catchy. Sound effects only add to the game's lighthearted nature and general cuteness.
The writing in Kirby's Epic Yarn has all of Nintendo's usual charm and child-appropriate humor. A single narrator tells the story and does the voices in the style of children's book. The characters are simple, and the story doesn't bother to take itself seriously, which is definitely the right move with a yarn-themed game. The ridiculous antagonist, Yin-Yarn the Sorcerer, at one point declares: "Dream Land will be mine! I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet, but I'll figure something out." Classic Nintendo.
The multiplayer also works great in this game. A second player can take control of Prince Fluff, who is basically a blue Kirby with a crown and angry eyebrows. This can make some levels easier and some levels harder, but either way adds another layer to a game that already stands up on its own. Grabbing your wingman, carrying his baseball form around on your head, and throwing him at enemies never ever gets old. You will occasionally get in each other's way, accidentally grabbing each other or bumping each other off cliffs, but since the difficulty level is so low, most of the time it's just funny. I had just as much fun racing through levels with a friend as I had playing alone, hunting down every bead and item to get perfect scores on every level.
Every Kirby fan, platformer fan, and cuteness fan should own Kirby's Epic Yarn. Anyone looking for a significant challenge might just want to rent it. Still, despite the difficulty level, Kirby's Epic Yarn is an excellent game, overflowing with charm and "adorability" right down to the slightest detail. With the exception of those containing the broken train, every level in the game is great fun with a distinct lack of anything to disrupt gameplay or annoy the player. When it comes time to review a game, I always consider whether it appears that the developers put enough effort into their work to justify the price and the hours it took to play through the game. Kirby's Epic Yarn more than justifies both, and is easily one of the best Wii games of the year.
Kirby's Epic Yarn is careful to not take itself seriously, and delivers a few good laughs. It's obvious that a lot of effort went into this game, down to the smallest detail.
The developers make great use of the Wii's specifications with a unique style. Everywhere Kirby turns, there's a new perfectly designed yarn environment to explore. No one could possibly think of more ways to use yarn.
The music is appropriate, never annoying yet never distracting, and there are a couple old Kirby hits thrown in. Sound effects are sufficiently adorable.
Epic Yarn's adorable charm and fantastic design more than makes up for its two or three minor annoyances, wrapping things up into one almost perfect package.