He took a few detours, but Kirby is back on the home console with a new look and new gameplay in tow. Kirby’s Epic Yarn is the latest release in the series and the first entry on the Wii console. It’s been years in the making but the pink puffball has finally made his debut on the Wii console, although there have been quite of few changes since we last saw him. This time around Kirby won’t be ripping through enemies with his copy ability, but with a yarn whip. That’s right. He’s traded in his vacuum for a piece of string. Don’t let it fool you, though. Kirby’s still more than capable of handling a few baddies.
But how did Kirby go from marshmallow to knitting fiber you ask? Well Kirby was simply walking along when he came across a tomato, his favorite food, and instinctively tried to suck it into that bottomless vortex he calls a mouth. This tomato, however, belonged to a yarn sorcerer, Yin Yarn, who wasn’t particularly pleased with Kirby consuming his property. Using his magic, he sucked Kirby into a magic sock. Yes, that is what really happened. This transported Kirby to Patch Land, where his new adventure began. He encountered the prince of Patch Land, Prince Fluff, where he discovered that the tomato gave him the ability to transform his newly yarnified body into a variety of forms. Prince Fluff explained that the Yin Yarn had stolen the magic yarn that held Patch Land together causing it to fall to pieces. Being the good Samaritan that he is, Kirby eagerly offered to help Prince Fluff collect the magic yarn to put Patch Land back together again.
You’ll control Kirby throughout his adventure by holding the Wii-mote sideways. The directional pad will control his movement with the “1″ and “2″ buttons providing his attacking and jumping abilities, respectively. Kirby’s new form prevents him from using his trademark vacuum and copy ability, but that doesn’t make him defenseless. This time around, Kirby will be using the yarn of his body to whip opponents into submission. By hitting enemies with the yarn whip, you can unraveling them although sometimes you’ll gather them as a projectile which can be used to break certain boxes and attack enemies. The yarn whip also allows you to grab onto buttons and zippers which allow you to swing across gaps and manipulate the environment.
While Kirby no longer has his copy ability, he still has the power to transform thanks to the tomato he consumed previously. He’ll transform into a car for his dash and into a parachute for his drift fall, but his main transformations come courtesy of a yarn manipulating vortex found in some levels. These vortexes change Kirby’s malleable body into a variety of shapes and vehicles including a giant tank, go-kart, UFO and more. Each of these transformations provide a new gameplay mechanic that keeps the game fresh. The new forms also give Kirby new powers that he can use to transverse the level and overcome obstacles such as the UFO’s static blasts that destroy everything on the screen. You’ll find a boss in each land which upon defeat will relinquish a piece of magic yarn. This will stitch Patch Land back together and unlock new lands for you to complete.
When you’re not finding magic yarn to piece Patch Land back together, you’ll be able to furnish your apartment with objects you find in each level. This is more for anesthetic purposes as you’ll be able to take photos of the room when you’re done with it. The beads you collect throughout the level can be used to purchase new furniture and wallpaper for your apartment. The objects also serve another purpose. As you progress through the game, your landlord will ask for your help with furnishing and expanding other apartments. This will bring new tenants, which open up various mini-game options such as a hide and seek mini-game or a timed collection mini-game. These provide amusing distractions as well as prizes for completing each one. More open up as you gain access to more lands and levels.
Visually, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is stunning. The Wii does color and simple shapes very well and Epic Yarn utilizes those strengths to deliver a charming and beautiful experience. Each of the environments is unique, focusing on a particular theme that shapes the obstacles and enemies you’ll encounter. The themes range from pastries to active volcanoes, all of which are rendered with the overall yarn theme. This provides the game with some of the best graphics on the Wii yet. The yarn and fabric based design allows for interesting environment manipulation as pulling cords can scrunch the environment while pulling zippers causes it to fall apart. Everything behaves how you expect yarn and fabric to behave when unraveled or moved around. Each level is provided with its own collectable theme song, giving each level its own unique atmosphere. The music is very mellow and just as adorable as the game’s visuals, so don’t expect any epic guitar riffs to break up the mood. The story is told almost like a storybook with the narrator even changing his voice at times for different characters. It all blends together to make Kirby’s Epic Yarn an entertaining and pleasant experience.
While Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a fun experience there are some control issues, particularly with some of his transformations. The control scheme is altered to accommodate each transformation which could some times lead to frustrating moments. You’ll often find yourself bouncing off the walls like a pinball as the UFO or trying to get the train back on track, but these moments don’t happen often so it doesn’t take too much away from the game. The game is also very easy while this isn’t a problem for everyone, gamers who thrive off of their games kicking them in the balls every five minutes will probably want to avoid Kirby’s Epic Yarn. However, this also makes the game accessible to gamers of all ages and skill levels.
Overall, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a fun filled and pleasant experience. The departure from the usual mechanics are a welcome change and make the game unique. While it may be too easy for some, it is accessible to all. The co-op gamplay make it ideal for families who want to game together and have fun. Fans of the pink puffball will be pleased with Kirby’s latest incarnation and will get hours of enjoyment from the title.
Beautiful and adorable visuals
Fun and variable gameplay
Charming storytelling and characters
Some control issues