Kirby’s Epic Yarn Review

October 26, 2010 at 10:25 AM | Posted in (All Posts), Reviews, Video Game Reviews | Leave a comment
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Nintendo fans have been very vocal about a console-based return for characters like Donkey Kong and Kirby over the past few years. Nintendo has a deep library of exclusive characters to use in their games, but it does feel as though some properties (Mario/Pokemon/Zelda)  are used more often than others (Kirby/Star Fox/Kid Icarus). More than anything, fans were asking for these characters like to be included in GREAT games like they have been in the past, such as Kirby’s Dream Land or Donkey Kong Country. That’s not to say that games like Donkey Kong Jungle Beat or Kirby: Canvas Curse are bad games, but it’s hard to deny that the games didn’t feel like the big hits that these characters deserved.

At E3 2010, Kirby’s Epic Yarn was unveiled. At first glance, the concept certainly makes you raise your eyebrow. Yarn? EPIC Yarn? What?

But Nintendo eased most concerns by showing the product in action. Kirby still had his classic transforming ability. Kirby was still pink. Kirby still sounded like Kirby. He was just made of yarn. Kirby was Kirby. He was without the sucking (ability), but he was still Kirby.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn Review

 

Kirby’s Epic Yarn
System: Nintendo Wii
Release Date: October 17th, 2010
Developer: Good-Feel / HAL Laboratories
Publisher: Nintendo

Read on for the full review:

The game has a storybook setting that takes over as soon as you start playing. There are multiple cutscenes that are narrated by this man who sounds like he came out of retirement from a “bedtime story” cassette tape series. The plot is rather simple — Kirby — being the pink glutton that he is — eats a tomato that belongs to a villain named Yin-Yarn. Yin-Yarn gets upset and sucks Kirby into a magical sock that sits like a belt around his waist. I am not making this up.

Inside this new world called Patch Land, Kirby himself and everything around him is made of cloth. Kirby even thinks to himself, “It feels like…pants.” (Which would probably be my first thought too, if I were in a world made of cloth.)

Right away, Kirby becomes a hero as he saves “Prince Fluff” — the prince to Patch Land. Kirby and Fluff become allies, and then the game really begins. Similar to certain Kirby sidescrollers of the past, Kirby’s Epic Yarn offers a sidescrolling experience that can be played with a friend. The first player takes control of Kirby while the second player takes control of Prince Fluff, but multiplayer is optional and by no means required to complete the game.

The goal of each level is to collect beads, defeat enemies, platform, collect special items, and get to the end of the level. This is basic Kirby gameplay, but without the sucking ability or the ability to float.

Basic controls are mapped as the following (with the Wii remote held sideways):

D-Pad: Move
1 Button: Use yarn-whip
2 Button: Jump
+ Button: Pause
– Button: View vontrols (for current form)

Kirby can still transform, but this is handled two different ways. First is the standard transformations which happen manually through the controls, such as transforming into a car (running) or turning into a parachute (floating).

There are also more intricate transformations that not only change Kirby’s appearance in a major way, but change the gameplay style entirely. Kirby will transform into these special transformations when he comes into contact with a Metamortex Patch. These special transformations include (but are not limited to) a dolphin, a giant tank, a train, and even a spaceship. With a transformation like the spaceship, the gameplay style shifts into traveling vertically onscreen while you shoot enemies above you, similar to the gameplay style of Space Invaders. With the train, you actually point the Wii remote at the screen and draw a set of tracks on screen that Kirby can travel on.

If playing with two players, Prince Fluff usually becomes an identical transformation, but there are times when the two characters combine to become one transformation with the controls being split.

These special transformations are great. Sidescrollers are expected to be repetitive to some degree, but nothing changes things up like having Kirby transform into (something like) a UFO and abduct enemies and items on screen. The variety in gameplay is always simple enough that you can figure out what to do almost right away, so it really is an easy transition.

Fans longing for characters and enemies from Kirby’s past need not worry. Yin-Yarn has his own duplicate army of Waddle Dees and some of Kirby’s oldest rivals make appearances. King Dedede takes a backseat to Yin-Yarn as the main villain, but his presence is definitely an interesting part of the plot. Meta Knight also shows up and walks a thin line between ally/enemy as usual. A lot of new characters are introduced as well, such as Dom Woole. Dom Woole owns a set of apartments and lets Kirby shack up. He has two brothers who own both a furniture and wallpaper store, and you can collect and buy items to decorate your apartment (just for fun) on the side.

The game is not hard at all. In fact, Kirby basically can’t die. You collect beads as you go through the level, and the biggest punishment for running into an enemy or getting hurt is losing your beads or just bouncing backwards. The real challenge for the game isn’t whether or not the player can survive, but whether or not you can find the hidden items and finish the level with a large amount of beads.

The main plot is anywhere from six to eight hours in length. Kirby has to patch up all seven worlds in Patch Land, but collecting all the special items and furniture could add length to the game. You can always go back and watch previous cutscenes or listen to the soundtrack songs you’ve collected, not to mention that you always have the option to return to previous worlds and play through any level again.

There is nothing wrong with Kirby’s Epic Yarn, so long as you just expect it to be another entry into the Kirby series. I quickly figured out that this is a game that you enjoy because of it’s simplicity. It looks visually interesting, the music is fitting (and enjoyable) for every setting, and the overall concept somehow works with Kirby. Kirby games have never been known to be very hard anyways, so having a Kirby game where you just play and have fun with no real punishment for getting hit by an enemy really isn’t that surprising. This is one of the easiest games I’ve ever played, but not once did I find myself wishing that I could have had some life-bar or time limit.

Quite possibly the best thing about Kirby’s Epic Yarn is how much this game still feels like a “Kirby game,” but that’s also the most frustrating thing as well. As strange as the yarn concept is, you’ll realize that this game is still a Kirby game to the core. The most fun aspects of these games have always been the charm of playing as pink ball-of-puff that can transform, and that remains the same.

I found myself a little less enthusiastic about the experience when I realized how similar this is to other Kirby games. Many Nintendo franchises have had drastic changes to their games at some point in time. When Ocarina of Time came out on the N64, the series followed in that gameplay style and has rarely looked back. Even with the recent Super Mario Galaxy transformation, Nintendo took a strange concept and made it something that almost feels necessary to Mario now. But Kirby is still largely unchanged. Even with some “epic yarn” concept, the game could have been achieved on the last generation of consoles.

If you’ve loved Kirby games in the past, you’re probably going to love this — even if you can’t accept the visual change. But gamers who were hoping to play in an “epic” adventure with a more serious tone similar to the SubSpace Emisary from Super Smash Bros. Brawl will be severely disappointed. This is the same cute and brave Kirby we’ve always known. It’s up to you whether that’s a good or bad thing. Kirby’s Epic Yarn IS a Kirby game on the Nintendo Wii, and that’s something that Wii gamers have been clamoring for for a long time.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn gets an 8 out of 10. The game is near-perfect in what it tries to achieve — and certainly worth a purchase, but considering this is the first time we’ve seen a Kirby (adventure) game on a home-console in 10 years, a lot more should have been done for our hero from Dream Land.

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