Kirby's Epic YarnESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Nintendo has quite a stable of mascot characters, from Mario to Zelda. One other character, who has finally gotten his own game on the Wii, is Kirby. That adorable pink, pudgy, enemy inhaling character has a special place in my heart, given that he and I share the same name. Name aside though, Kirby has starred in some pretty good games, and his first solo outing on the Wii, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, shows that he still has some magic in him, and that Nintendo continues to make great 2D platforming games.
Visually speaking, Kirby’s Epic Yarn emits a style of its own. It is colourful, original, and darn nice to look at. There is so much detail in something so simple that it is mind numbing. Developers Good-Feel have put a lot of thought into the levels, utilizing the idea that Kirby is in a land of yarn, cloth, and buttons, to a tee. It is quite amazing. For example, I had to let out a small chuckle when Kirby disappeared behind the level’s wall and all I saw was a bulge in the cloth or paper as I guided him to the next part of the area he needed to be. Along with the original look of each level, you should also pay close attention to the animation of all the characters. You will see such fine detail as Kirby’s different faces and his movement during specific actions (e.g. when he tries to balance). Technically, and creatively speaking, this is no doubt one of the better looking games to hit Wii in quite some time.
The audio in Kirby’s Epic Yarn is very suitable to the content found on the screen. From Kirby and Prince Puff’s grunts as they whip, swing, jump and fly through the air to the somewhat magical sound when acquiring beads, it all screams cute Nintendo platform game. As for the music, it is as equally as cute as the sound effects and each track manages to match the specific game levels you are venturing on. You may find a track or two that grates you the wrong way, but for such a cute game such as this, it was amazing that I didn’t find too many of these.
Now I am of the belief that reviews should not give too much away in terms of a game’s story, and it is no different with Kirby’s Epic Yarn. I am sure you can scour the “interwebz” for every sordid detail, but I won’t buckle; I just don’t believe in giving up all the details. That being said, I can tell you that Kirby gets himself into a bit of trouble by doing what he does best, inhaling things. This trouble results in him being transported to Patch Land where everything is made of yarn, cloth, buttons, and anything else you can think of when one thinks of arts and crafts class from school. Interestingly enough, Kirby also finds himself made of yarn, and thus starts his newest adventure.
Given the premise of Kirby’s new fate, being made of yarn, there are new game dynamics in play. No longer will you be able to inhale your enemies and absorb their powers. You now have to rely on platforming skills like jumping, whipping, grabbing, and even tossing your enemies to progress along the approximately 50 levels or so. This new twist of being made of yarn works very well and adds some great gameplay elements to the whole experience as the amount of stuff you can do is pretty amazing, and surprisingly, it stays quite fresh throughout. Of course you’ll find your typical jumping, but new to Kirby’s repertoire is the ability to transform his shape for brief periods in order to traverse various sections of any given level. From transforming into a parachute to glide in the air to transforming into a underwater sub to swim underwater, you’ll find many different things to transform into in order to get through many of the levels.
Although the transformations I just mentioned are for brief periods of time, you will come across various points in the game where Kirby transforms into something new for pretty much the whole level. This adds a somewhat original feel to this newest Kirby game. For example, in one such level Kirby transforms into a fire truck enabling him to put out fires and spray enemies aside. There are other levels where his transformation is required, such as when he becomes a UFO, train, or a spaceship. All in all these periods in the game really add more oomph, and most should enjoy what these transformations do for the game as a whole.
So you take Kirby through the levels by whipping enemies, jumping around levels, and by transforming our pink pudgy hero into various vehicles or items. All in all this is the essence of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, but these aspects are broken into two different categories. Let me explain:
The first category is the skill involved to just get through the game. In a nutshell it is quite easy to get from start to finish given that you do not die. Yes, you heard me right, you do not die. If you fall off a ledge, get hit by an enemy, or do something that puts Kirby’s safety at jeopardy, you are punished by losing beads that you collect as you go through each level. Even the eventual boss fights don’t end in your demise should you falter. Some may complain that this type of play element, the inability to die, hurts the game, and in some ways it may for some, but for me I can see why they did this. It allows the younger or more inexperienced gamers in the house to experience the charm of Kirby and allow them to play and have some fun. Hey, the Wii is a family console, so why not let all members of the family enjoy this game.
The second category is somewhat an opposite polar of what I just explained. Sure, you can navigate each level, take some hits, lose some beads, and finish a level, but the better you do, the less hits you take, and the more beads you accumulate and finish the level with, the more you are rewarded. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded at the end of each level and they correlate with how many beads you finish with. Along these same lines, if you beat a boss in quick and impressive fashion, while taking little to no damage, you are rewarded as well, with secret levels. This is where the real skill is required. Do you want more? Well there is more. There are a TON of mini-games to play even after beating the main quest. There are approximately 100 or so to play through. The reward for beating these; you earn furniture and fabric to decorate Kirby’s own home. All of these aspects really reach toward the true gamer or one who is a completionist. This is where Kirby’s Epic Yarn separates itself from the new or casual gamer and those who love to play and play again. Collecting all the beads, getting all the medals, and beating all the mini-games will take time, effort, and skill. Oh yeah, and some time as well.
Kirby’ Epic Yarn has also included a drop in, drop out cooperative mode. You can play the game from start to finish with a second player. The second player takes on the roll of Prince Fluff, a blue coloured Kirby-like character who has the identical move set as his pink partner. The ability to play with a second player adds two distinct differences to the game. The first being that you can know complete levels in a totally different manner than when playing solo. You can toss each other up into hard to reach places, hard to reach items, or through specific barriers. The other change in gameplay is the ability to finish with the maximum amount of beads. With two people playing you now you have two on-screen characters who are collecting, and sharing the beads on each level. These two on-screen characters can also be hit by enemies and lose those beads. Cooperative takes teamwork and mindful play to finish each level with the minimum number of beads needed for a gold medal. That being said, if you are not looking to finish with any particular medal awarded this mode can definitely be fun for playing with the real younger members of a family as they can just have fun and you can have fun with them.
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