Kirby’s Epic Yarn Review

Kirby's Epic Yarn

Kirby has been a flagship character for Nintendo for many years now, but he’s faded into the background in more recent years. He was featured in some portable titles and made appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series, but the last time the little pink ball had a console game all to himself was back in 2003 with Kirby Air Ride on the Gamecube. But now that Kirby’s Epic Yarn is here the little guy is making quite the comeback. The game’s visual aesthetic may be its most striking feature, but beyond that is a fantastic platformer filled with imaginative ideas.

The game starts with Kirby eyeing his favorite food, tomatoes. Unfortunately this one particular tomato belongs to Yin-Yarn, an evil wizard. Kirby is sucked into Yin-Yarn’s magic sock and finds himself in Patch Land. There, everything is made of yarn and Kirby can no longer suck up enemies. Despite this setback Kirby manages to save Prince Fluff, who explains that the two must find magic yarn to tie Patch Land back together and stop Yin-Yarn. It’s a very simplistic and kid-friendly tale, especially in the way it’s presented. The voice over telling the story seems to be a father reading a story to his child, even using the appropriate voices for each character. It’s a clever way of approaching the story and helps add to the game’s charm.

Now that Kirby can no longer inhale or swallow enemies he must rely on other abilities. Instead, his main attack is using a whip-like piece of yarn to unravel his enemies. Holding the attack button will allow him to turn that enemy into a ball of yarn, which can then be used to attack others or help open passages. In addition to getting rid of the bad guys, there’s running, jumping, and, well, that’s it… at first. The game is a platformer in the classic sense; you hold the Wii controller sideways and use two buttons most of the time. But Kirby’s ability to transform is where things get creative.

Kirby's Epic Yarn

At certain points in the game you will reach portals which transform Kirby into all kinds of things, from a UFO to a surfing penguin. Some of these will require you to use motion controls, such as tilting the controller or using the Wii remote’s infrared pointer to draw on the screen. It’s a subtle use of the Wiimote and never feels unnecessary or distracting. The result is arguably the most fun gameplay aspect in the entire game.

The environmental variety lends itself well to the core gameplay. Each of the worlds you visit in Patch Land has its own distinct theme, from an underwater world to one based on tasty treats like donuts and cake. In addition to the various levels, the game features bosses with both imaginitive design and battle presentation. Actually defeating a boss isn’t as worthwhile due to the game’s biggest flaw: a lack of challenge.

First and foremost, it is impossible to die in Kirby’s Epic Yarn. So obviously a sense of urgency and tension linked with most videogame boss fights is absent here. It isn’t as much of a problem during the rest of the game. The penalty for death is losing many of the beads you’ve collected up to that point. You’re given a bronze, silver, or gold ranking depending on how many beads you finish a level with, so the real challenge comes from striving for that gold rank in each level and trying to obtain all of the collectibles (furniture, music tracks, etc.) hidden throughout the world. That may not seem like much but you’d be surprised how enticing it is to get back in and repeat a level after missing its gold rank or a particular item.

Apart from the main adventure, you also have your very own apartment that you can furnish and decorate. Animal Crossing fans may be delighted to hear of this feature, but in reality there isn’t very much depth behind it. Adding furniture to a 2D apartment is fairly unsatisfying, and once you’re finished with your renovations there isn’t really anything to do. Some fellow tenants may visit you in your apartment but they don’t actually do anything. There is a way to join them in some activities though.

As you give the landlord beads to help expand the apartment, he will ask you to decorate the new rooms to attract new tenants. There you will find outlines for specific objects which you collect along the way. Once a room is finished the person living there will allow you to access some kind of minigame or side activity involving them. They range from collecting beads in an alloted time to playing hide and seek with small creatures. They’re not the most fun minigames in the world but prove to be a decent alternative if you feel like taking a break from the main adventure.

Kirby's Epic Yarn

Kirby’s Epic Yarn features 50 levels and plenty of minigames, but it does fall a bit on the short side, especially if you rush through each level without worrying about items or rank. Luckily the game features local co-op that allows you to play the entire game with two people (with Prince Fluff as the second character). The game is arguably even more fun with another person, as the two of you can work in tandem in some interesting ways. And even if one of you has trouble keeping up, the game allows you to travel to your partner with just the click of a button. So not only is the co-op fun, it’s convenient.

One can’t talk of the game without mentioning the visuals. The way in which the entire world is represented as yarn truly is astounding. The effect of pulling strings of yarn to shape the levels or take out enemies is by far the most graphically impressive aspect of the game. Vibrant colors and clever enemy design just add to an overall feeling of cuteness. Trying to describe this game without using the words “cute” or “adorable” just seems impossible. Comparisons to LittleBigPlanet‘s patchwork visuals could be made, but Kirby’s Epic Yarn manages its own unique style despite the similarities. The music in the game compliments that style well with plenty of peppy, cheerful tunes that are great, if a bit repetitive.

When Nintendo announced Kirby’s Epic Yarn we knew the game looked great. The question was whether it would be just as much fun to play as it is to look at. The answer is a resounding yes. The visuals and gameplay intertwine perfectly to create a platformer brimming with creativity and charm. A few very minor blemishes can’t overshadow Kirby’s triumphant return to videogame greatness.


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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