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Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii) artwork

Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii) review


"It's just a darn good game."


The Wii was never a doomed platform; it sparkles with possibility and is home to some of gamingís most iconic motion controls. Well, the controls that people actually enjoyed. Masahiro Sakurai took the road less traveled, however: There are no motion controls in Epic Yarn.

Thatís a sharp departure for a system that was build upon that feature. It was, at the time, a surprise and a welcome shift in visual quality. Sakurai had a clear message for us gamers: ďI havenít forgotten what makes a good game.Ē That, my friends, is what Epic Yarn is ... a darn good game.

Okay, Iíll try to take it easy on the puns, because in point of fact, Epic Yarn has a light hearted gravity to its story. For those not in the know: Kirbyís Epic Yarn recounts the adventure of everybodyís favorite pink hoover pulled into a universe in which everything is made of textiles.

Strung Together
The world is a segmented pie of fabrics; space is but one large sheet of ... probably felt. Buildings, platforms and everything else consist of buttons, string, yarn and more. Kirby and Prince Fluff can interact with these things to pull apart enemies, or pull together large structures. Oh, so whoís Prince Fluff?

Epic Yarn is presented in a storybook format, which word has it was developed by Good-Feel, and then adapted by HAL Laboratories into a Kirby branded title. Prince Fluff was to be the protagonist, and still rules his Kingdom, except that a nasty thief by the name of Yin-Yarn is using his magic to disrupt the world.

Prince Fluff, of course, needs Kirbyís help to recover all of the missing buttons, defeat Yin-Yarnís unruly minions and bring order to his kingdom. Kirby, ever the helpful little starfella, is pleased to oblige. For an introduction, weíre welcomed by a gentle sounding narrator who explains, and almost participates, in the cut fabric scenes which serve as exposition.

Does the story matter? In this case yes, as understanding the world youíre in does help you to realize how some of the interactions play out. You begin by exploring the Princeís castle, which provides easy to follow visual instructions for new players. Itís a short run that acquaints you with Epic Yarnís fairly simple mechanics.

Gentle Touch
Epic Yarn has a follow along play style that is unabashedly relaxing for anyone comfortable with platforming. If you play anything as intense as Megaman Zero or Meatboy, youíre not going to find any challenge here, and thatís exactly what the developers intended.

For example, the soundtrack, is lead predominantly by piano, xylophone and the occasional piccazo with an always gentle but clear emotional representation. Who says you need a one hundred piece orchestra to leave a lasting impression? Epic Yarnís musicians understand the power of subtlety.

In kind, Kirbyís ability to defeat enemies by unraveling them is not left unexplored. In a thoughtful move, a second player can join at any time, and add a co-operative element to play. You canít hurt each other, but you can pick up and throw your partner toward a ledge - or an enemy of youíre feeling impish.

How Not to Lose
Which brings up the point of how Epic Yarn treats the win state. Itís literally not possible to die; youíll be rescued automatically if you fall into a pit. However, as youíre collecting beads and buttons, any damage you take causes you to drop your precious - and shiny - cargo. Each level has a fixed total of these, so the more you bring to the end of the level, the higher your rank will be.

Higher ranks are rewarded with patches; one to open the next level, and sometimes another for a bonus level. Now that youíve collected several thousand beads, what do you do with them? Why, furnish the room in the hotel you happen to be staying at. What else?

Youíll buy furnishings, wallpaper and carpet with the buttons youíve amassed to create your personal style. Decorating your hotel room is a short lived diversion however, as there was no way to share your masterwork with friends - unless theyíre in the room with you. This and other mini-quests will pass a bit of time and introduce you to some very cute neighbours who move in and offer you mini games to play with them.

Speaking of mini games... as you travel youíll encounter a large multicolored ball of swirling yarn. Jumping into it will turn you into a giant spherical tankbot, a surfer, a mole that carves through cotton baton with aplomb, a train with somewhat fidgety controls, and more. The train sections can be annoying, as you point the Wiimote at the screen and draw out the tracks - it can take some getting used to.

Bossing Minions
Epic Yarn borders on what could be called a spectacle fighter. It just looks so good. All of the textiles have been painstakingly modeled after their real world counterparts and are very tactile looking. Nothing is overdone, and not once did any of the simulations spaz out or glitch.

This game was without a doubt thoroughly tested, but one of itís standout qualities are the boss fights. While they amount to no more than yarn tracings, they have carefully planned stages and are expressive and detailed. Youíre knocking the buttons out of these beasts, and they react accordingly: panting and wheezing, looking burned and crushed.

I was so satisfied with the boss fight that I was pleased to go back and do it again with my improved mastery of Epic Yarnís combat. Having a partner puts emphasis on your co-operative skills, so be sure to talk it through. Remember, any buttons spilled by mistake can cost you a valuable rank.

Collectible Collectibles?
Is it worth ranking up every level and hording every fastener you can find? Unless you really enjoy redecorating, no. Some levels can be difficult, so having a way to unwind between attempts can ease the tension of play. Itís a great way to let the kids play so that they arenít wound up just before bed. Good-Feel and HAL have given this gameís demographic all due consideration.

Whatís Fun
Kirbyís Epic Yarn is a bigger game than it looks, both in length, mechanics and mini-games. Thereís plenty to do, and while there are no difficulty options, the always available second player allows a helpful friend, sibling or parent to join at any time. If you love Kirby music, this score is a different take on the hyper-energetic mode of its cousins, but is a welcome change and worth consideration for your personal music library.

Whatís Not
Point cursor controls, particularly for the train sections of levels, can be frustrating, even though you have no limits in time or resources while learning. Epic Yarn is a big departure from the quick reflex action of other titles in the franchise, so keep that in mind. Two player can lead to irritating spats if cooperation isnít a high priority, but it could be a safe way to gentle out some competition.

Recommendation
There are just a couple of ways to get your hands on a copy of this title, and that's through the the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U (while it lasts), and second hand. If you have a Wii wasting away on a dusty shelf and a child pining for something fun, Kirbyís Epic Yarn delivers on all fronts, and you can be assured to enjoy it even if you donít participate; but donít hesitate - youíll be missing out on a charming, rewarding experience.

5/5

hastypixels's avatar
Community review by hastypixels (February 02, 2017)

Is a fan of technology, but not of software implementations. Usually haunting a keyboard surrounded by LCD screens. When he's not making a living building stuff out of wood, that is.

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