Customarily Mario amasses most of Nintendo's fanfare. However, there is an 18 year old puffball named Kirby who deserves a run in the spotlight, and what better way then to star in his own "Epic" adventure.
The last time we saw Kirby in an exclusive game of his it own he was riding through the air in 'Kirby Air Ride' (2003) for the Nintendo Gamecube. Well, Kirby is back in a big way on the Wii. Kirby 's latest is called 'Epic Yarn,' and as the title depicts Kirby has been turned into an alternative yarn form. Yarn, you say... sounds strange, well it is, but it's a good kind of strange and only one that would make Masahiro Sakurai proud.
Kirby should be the ambassador of joy, because it's nearly impossible NOT to smile when Kirby is on the screen. Kirby was cute as pink blob, but now its amplified even more in 'Epic Yarn.' A game that is filled with so much fluffy-wonderful charm that its “almost” too much (I'm looking at you patronizing narrator.) Everything from the clever "yarn" inspired design, to the characters and story is overloaded with happiness... and I wouldn't have it any other way. Truth be told, the jubilant behaviour is fun and refreshing.
A magical sock and a prince named Fluff?!
The tale in 'Epic Yarn' starts with Kirby being sucked into a magic sock when Kirby's curiosity gets the best of him. This sock is actually an inter-dimensional portal hanging around the neck of an evil wizard named 'Yin-Yarn'-- I know, right? Well, Kirby gets sucked into 'Patch Land,' a land where everything is made of fabrics and yarn. More then just being stuck in a land made of yarn, Kirby gets turned to yarn himself! In the form of yarn, Kirby's normal “suck” powers are nonexistent, but not to worry, Kirby has a whole batch of new tricks. In 'Patch Land,' Kirby ends up teaming up 'Prince Fluff' to help save this land that needs to be patched up with magical golden thread -- (surprised?!) That is enough to get rolling as you jump, swing, and transform your way through the various worlds in order to patch up 'Patch Land.'
While Kirby can handle most situations without too much trouble, the Boss battles add a much needed challenge in what is a mainly a straight forward jump/whip experience. The bosses are extremely creative and fun, but it would have been beneficial to have a little more direction on how to defeat these larger adversaries. Trail and error is a formula that works the best. Although, younger games might get a little frustrated. Even so expect to be amused at the clever designs they have worked out for you.
Fun with Fluff
'Prince Fluff' can also help Kirby in his adventure when a second controller is added. The two player mechanic is pretty fun and a helpful way to reach otherwise unreachable sections. Kirby and Fluff can throw each other around the level, stand on each others heads, and even become a second hand while Kirby transforms into different vehicles. If you have a friend around, I have to recommend Kirby as a fun lighthearted two player romp.
No Waggle Needed
Moving away from the motion waggle of other games, Kirby only requires the Wii-mote to be enjoyed. The controller is held sideways and you will be primary using the “1” and “2” buttons. Some motion controls are used, but it doesn't go any deeper then tilting it from side-to-side. Instead of sucking in enemies and spitting them out, Kirby has a whip weapon that extends to grab enemies and trap them in yarn, and more importantly swing around the world. It also seems that Kirby's debilitating change has inhibited with the ability to transform into other objects like a car, a parachute, a surfing penguin, a giant monster tank, a fire engine and more. When transformed some tilting is used, usually revolving around aiming.
While Patch Land's normal progression is fun enough on its own, you can put in a little extra effort to look for secret treasure chests scattered throughout each level. Gems or Beads are also collected to increase your score and your end of the level ranking, which will help to unlock more challenging levels. These gems also act like Kirby's life, comparable to Sonic's rings, Kirby only looses beads when he is hit and he can't die. Of course this makes the game extremely easy, but that's ok, this is a kids game after all, isn't it?
Kirby also has a crib in 'Epic Yarn,' something like 'Animal Crossings' or 'LittleBigPlanet.' Customizing is totally optional, and won't suit all gamers (like myself) but it is a fine extra addition that I know lots of gamers will love. Sporadically Kirby will get some visitors that will challenge Kirby to a friendly challenge like time trails, bead collecting, etc.
One String at a Time
Graphically, the fresh look in 'Epic Yarn' helps Kirby become even more loveable with its creative use of cloth and textiles that pulls and stretches the world in all sorts of direction. Interacting with the world is something you will always be doing as Kirby pulls on buttons, pulls threads closed and open. Similar to what 'Paper Mario' did with paper. Interactive, interesting and innovative are three “I's” that could describe the graphical look of 'Epic Yarn.' The core game sticks to a 2D side-scrolling base, but that doesn't stop it from being interesting. Even Kirby looks great in his yarn form, you might even prefer this alternative version of Kirby then his normally pink puffball self.
Kirby's Epic Yarn is a wonderful surprise. Brilliantly crafted to take the player on a fantastic voyage into a world of patchwork, you will easily fall in love with Kirby's attitude and yarn-inspired esthetics. In solo player or co-op with a friend, Kirby's Epic Yarn is one Wii title you won't want to pass up. Quality, kid-friendly Wii games don't come along every day, so I cannot stress enough, how awesome Kirby's Epic Yarn is.
Similar Games: Kirby's Return to Dreamland (7.5)