|Kirby's Epic Yarn|
|Genre||Sugary Sweet Sidescroller|
|MtAMinutes to Action||3|
|Keep Playing?||I guess so|
|Buy from Amazon|
The word "epic" sees plenty of use these days. You'll find it on plenty of video game boxes, woven into a bullet point or two on the back between screenshots and numbers pulled from reviews. You'll see it in a few game company logos, as well. And sometimes, the word will flash in your mind when you play something otherwise indescribable.
That's right, a series that has seen the words Squeak, Dream, and Tumble in its marquees is now Epic. And made of yarn. The title, of course, is a play on the word "yarn" used as a story, and also the fact that everything in the game is made of fabric and knitting. But those same reviewers, whose five-stars and upward-thumbs sit alongside the word on so many rear covers, are giving a game that ironically uses it on the front the same treatment.
I played an hour (and then some more). Would Nintendo want to put my words on the back of the box?
(minutes are in bold)
00 - New Game: Welcome to Dream Land! Seems a caped sorcerer has been going around and turning people into yarn. Kirby finds a tomato. He eats it like the gluttonous void he is.
01 - Apparently it was the sorcerer's tomato. He uses a magic sock to transport Kirby into another land. A land made of yarn! There, Kirby finds a blue yarn person being chased by a monster. He tries to eat the monster, but can't! He's hollow now, after all.
02 - Instead, Kirby turns into a car (a newly-acquired ability thanks to the yarn...?) and drives off with the blue yarn person to safety. Apparently this is Patch Land. The blue yarn person (who looks identical to Kirby, but has a crown) leads Kirby to his castle.
03 - I'm in control now, guess this is the overworld map. I play around with the controls a bit...1 is yarn whip, 2 is jump. I can turn into a car by double-tapping the D-pad left or right. Pressing down in the air causes Kirby to slam down in his rock form. Only, you know, made of yarn this time around. Kirby animates very fluidly, with his bouncy yarn outline flittering about.
04 - I'm in the first stage, Patch Castle now. There are tutorials for grabbing enemies and jumping on billboards in the background. A yarn Waddle Dee approaches, and I pull him apart with the yarn whip! I can also hold 1 to roll up the yarn enemy into a ball of yarn to be tossed in any direction.
05 - Kirby makes baby noises when he jumps, whips, or throws things. It's a little annoying. Some Waddle Dees have spears, which I can grab and throw back at them. They're still not very threatening. A billboard shows that Kirby can turn into a parachute and float down slowly by holding the jump button in mid-air.
06 - I've pulled a treasure chest patch off the wall to reveal a Chandelier! Guess that comes in handy later? I found a King's Throne, too. Another one has a Patch Castle CD in it, which I can use in the sound test menu.
07 - I found a bell, and ring it. Guess that's the end of the stage! The blue yarn person comes in and dances with Kirby. Cleared the stage with a gold medal. Cutscene: the blue yarn person introduces himself as Prince Fluff. Turns out Yin-Yarn the sorcerer separated Patch Land's seven lands.
08 - A yarn monster tries to eat Prince Fluff! Kirby defeats it before the regicide is completed, and it surrenders a piece of Magic Yarn, which can be used to sew the pieces of the world back together. The yarn stitches the next piece, Grass Land, onto Quilty Court, and Kirby and the Prince head off in that direction to find the rest.
09 - I'm exploring Patch Plaza for the moment. One room appears to be a data room, with enemy profiles, items collected, fabrics collected, a sound test room, and a movie viewing room.
11 - A yarn-mustached person appears. His name is Dom Woole, and he owns an apartment complex here. He offers Kirby a room and even gives Kirby a couch as a gift! Looks like I can decorate Kirby's apartment with items I've found. I put the Chandelier and King's Throne in the room to class it up a bit.
13 - I can also put fabrics on the floor or walls of the apartment and reupholster the furniture. That's neat, but the place is pretty sparse so I'll just head to Grass Land now.
14 - The first stage here is Fountain Gardens. Before heading in, I can select whether I want to play singleplayer or cooperative, with the second player using Prince Fluff.
15 - And so the stage begins! A (yarn) monkey is hanging from a (fabric) tree, dropping colletable Beads. I pull a treasure chest patch to reveal a Flower Sofa for my apartment. I think this is the level from the E3 demo.
16 - Kirby turns into a little submarine when he's underwater. He can still whip and throw stuff though, so that's cool. Fountains of (yarn) water shoot Kirby high into the air. I can pull buttons with string in them to scrunch the fabric up, moving platforms around.
17 - Looks like I can whip buttons to swing from them. This one is in a tree, and swinging the tree shakes Beads out from its leaves.
18 - There's a zipper on the wall. Kirby slowly unzips it, and it falls away, revealing the inside of this little fort. There's a stitching inside that, when unraveled, unveils a warp that transports Kirby into the clouds, behind the fabric of the sky.
19 - There's a treasure here on this cloud: Fountain Gardens music. I continue further and come to a castle. I can go inside it and move around behind its fabric. Kirby's position is shown by the bulge in the fabric.
20 - I collect some kind of item...and Kirby turns into a giant tank! Tilting the Wii remote tilts Kirby's head, and the 1 button fires rockets from his mouth. Enemies fly in and drop bombs at Kirby, but they're easily taken out.
21 - Woops, I got hit by a bomb! Some Beads fly away from Kirby, but I can recollect them a la Sonic the Hedgehog. The tank yarn gets wrapped around a large knitting needle, transforming Kirby back into his regular (yarn) form. I ring the end bell and that's the end of Fountain Gardens.
22 - Kirby exits the door with a butterfly patch in his hand. Pressing 1 throws it into the background, and the yarn butterfly on the patch comes to life. The yarn blocking the next door also turns into a butterfly, and Flower Fields is now available to play. Let's head in, shall we?
23 - A flower wheel blossoms as I walk over it, and Beads sprout from its petals. The soundtrack is a soft but playful piano tune. It definitely fits this world of fabric flowers.
24 - Still heading through the stage. Not many Waddle Dees trying to stop me. And they're not trying very hard.
25 - This enemy has a horn on its head, and it tries to ram Kirby. It is easily wound up into a yarn ball and tossed at a sleeping enemy. Kirby is adorable, but he won't hesitate to kill you in your sleep!
26 - Some frog faces are suspended in the air, and their tongues have buttons to swing from...there's a treasure beyond this path of swinging points, and a Frog Umbrella Stand is inside. That'll look good in my apartment...maybe.
27 - I pull one patch away, and it reveals an exclamation point. It just sort of floats around, though. Oh, there it goes! It attached to a fountain (made of fabric) in the background, allowing me to pull it off and reveal a hidden CD.
28 - The large dandelions here can be grabbed, elevating Kirby as they float upwards.
29 - Jumped into another transformation...and Kirby turns into a yarn UFO! Pressing 2 sucks up enemies or objects, and 1 creates a full-screen electrical attack, charged up by abducting things. I can use the tractor beam on Beads as well, collecting some that are underneath spikes.
30 - The UFO is wound up on a knitting needle, and I ring the bell for the end of the stage. Finished it with a gold medal for collecting lots of Beads.
31 - Kirby emerges with an alarm clock patch. Dom Woole approaches. "Oh dear! What a pickle, what a pickle, what a definite pickle I am in!" He takes us back to the apartment complex.
32 - Seems Dom Woole is having trouble attracting tenants to his apartment complex. He asks Kirby to decorate one of the rooms here in an effort to appeal to apartment seekers. I am prompted to place some furniture into silhouettes in the background. I put the Flower Sofa and Flower Clock into their spots.
33 - As soon as they're placed, a brown yarn circle creature named Zeke enters the room and is immediately impressed with my fantastic flower furniture. Dom Woole thanks me for my work, and the new tenant offers to play hide and seek.
34 - Turns out hide and seek is a minigame where I look for five yarn Zekes, using a portion of an already-cleared stage as the playground. This round takes place in the fountain stage I finished earlier.
35 - There's a border to keep me from going too far, and I quickly find all five of the Zekes. The time spent and Beads collected are recorded, so I guess I can go for high scores. Zeke gives me the Blue Sky fabric in exchange for playing.
36 - I exit the apartment and Dom Woole is outside. He wants to add a floor to the apartment, but needs a loan of 10,000 Beads. Well, he did give me that couch...I guess I'll lend it to him. He immediately adds a new floor to Quilty Court, with two more rooms to decorate.
37 - I head back to Grass Land to unlock the next stage. My newly-acquired Alarm Clock patch wakes up a yarn bear underground, and it stretches to raise the floor to the next stage, Rainbow Falls.
38 - Found a treasure, Rainbow Arch. I recognize its silhouette from one of the rooms to decorate.
39 - An alligator enemy! I can stand on its nose when it closes its mouth. Or I can wind it up into a yarn ball and throw it at its friends. I choose the latter.
40 - I pull a curtain away from the fabric, and some Beads fall into the moving stream below. I have to move fast to get to the Beads before they fall further down the waterfall.
41 - I jump from one alligator snout to the next to find a treasure, an Outdoor Bath. How are you supposed to decorate an apartment interior with an outdoor bath...?
42 - I found a transformation point, and Kirby turns into a surfer! He moves pretty slowly across the stream. Pressing 2 jumps, and 1 causes Kirby to spin, which destroys enemies and bounces off of them. A Bead trail has a suggested path to follow.
43 - Rang the bell at the end of the stage, and finish with a gold medal. Kirby and Fluff's new dance is just as adorable as the others. Zeke the hide-and-seek thing informs me that we can play hide-and-seek in a new stage. I head into Big Bean Vine, the next stage, instead.
44 - Guess this is a vertical climbing level. I'm climbing up the beanstalk fabric to the top. The clouds appear to be made of cotton. Some Waddle Dees are floating with their parasols.
45 - A piece of angry-looking fabric spawns Waddle Dees. They take a short walk to the edge of a cotton cloud, blow up some balloons, and float upwards. I can stand on their balloons to hitch a ride, but the air slowly deflates as I stand on them until they finally pop.
46 - There's a big slug monster ahead, shooting string at me...I throw a Waddle Dee at him, exposing a door behind the now destroyed yarn creature.
47 - Using more balloon Waddle Dees as transport. Some vines from the beanstalk also help me climb.
48 - And that's the end of the stage. I ring the bell, Kirby and Fluff do their amazing coordinated dance. Gold medal. Dom Woole appears and says he'll introduce me to his brothers when I go back to town.
49 - I think I'll go the next stage instead. My watering can patch sprinkles on the beanstalk, which grows up to a new door. It has a sinister-looking face on it. Apparently it's a boss stage, with Fangora the yarn dragon.
50 - I head in the door and Fangora appears! There are yarn smoke lines in the foreground. Fangora flaps its wings and Kirby loses his footing. The yarn dragon enemy flies back and forth across the screen, requiring me to use platforms to escape its path.
51 - It spits fire at Kirby, but the fireballs can be wound up with yarn and thrown right back, causing the dragon to surrender Beads and expose its tongue, which has a button sewn into it. I pull the button and snap it back at Fangora, causing more Beads to fly out.
52 - It dives into the background and emerges in the foreground, hinting at which area it will attack with the yarn smoke lines ahead of its path. It also shoots its pointy tongue at Kirby before spitting more fire, which is sent right back. I guess three hits are all that's needed, as Fangora's threads scatter and it surrenders a Magic Yarn.
53 - The Magic Yarn shimmers and flies into the sky, weaving Grass Land to its neighboring Hot Land. Meanwhile, Kirby climbs a tree to look for food. Fluff shakes the tree and apples fall out, along with Kirby. Kirby is not pleased to have thrown from a tree, and chases Fluff around.
54 - The next world is Hot Land, with plenty of yarn lava to legitimize its name. Another stage is unlocked in Grass Land as well, but I'll move on to Hot Land. The first stage is Pyramid Sands.
55 - There are quicksand platforms (made of yarn, of course!) that sink into the ground, and tornados that float Kirby into the air.
56 - I pull the front off of a pyramid, revealing the inner chambers. These lead to a treasure, guarded by Waddle Dees with spears. They offer little resistance, and surrender the Cactus Juice hidden inside the patch.
57 - The tornados ahead have spike enemies whirling about inside, so it probably wouldn't be wise to jump into them. I go underneath the tornados by dashing through the sinking quicksand.
58 - Found a transformation point, and Kirby transforms into a dune buggy! Guess I can just jump in this thing. I hit a few cacti while experimenting with jump heights.
59 - Dune buggies in front of me have spikes on the back that I have to avoid. Not having much luck doing that, though, I keep jumping right into them.
60 - The Dune Buggy winds itself up on a knitting needle, and I'm back to regular old Kirby. I guess this was a race, as a few enemies are standing on winner platforms. The 2nd place spot is empty, so I guess that belongs to me. I still get a gold medal for the completion of the stage, though.
First Hour Summary
Minutes to Action: 3
What I liked: In an industry dominated by military sims, bloody brawls, and vehicular carnage, it's nice to see a game that stabs right into the innocent pleasure center of your brain with a needle and thread. Epic Yarn's world of sewing and patchwork can make even the most cold-hearted gamer squeal with childish delight.
What I didn't like: Things start out pretty tame, even for Kirby standards. I don't think the standard Waddle Dee enemies can even harm Kirby at all. I can stand right on top of them or even walk into them without losing any Beads. I was expecting easy, but this strays pretty far into cakewalk territory. I guess that's not too surprising though, considering the scenery. One of the later stages is actually a walk through a cake factory.
Video: This is one of those cases where sharp animation and creative artistic design trump processing power alone. Kirby won GameTrailers' Best Graphics of E3 award earlier this year, beating Crysis 2 and other technical knockouts. It really looks like everything in the game was lovingly quilted by a team of grandmas. Oddly, it's one of the few Wii games I really wish I could see in HD to really make the stitchings pop.
Audio: Most of the tracks I've heard thus far wouldn't be out of place in a dull cartoon aimed at pre-schoolers, but they fit the aesthetics well. The cheery sound effects are appropriately bouncy and playful, but Kirby's baby noises can be a bit much.
Story: Kirby eats somebody else's tomato. Somebody else turns out to be a sorcerer who sends Kirby to a world made of yarn with a magic sock. Honestly? Kirby kind of deserves it. Not the first time he's stolen food from a stranger. Anyway, it's written and told in a way that feels obviously aimed at kids but won't make adults cringe much.
Gameplay: Copy abilities, inhalation, and flight are replaced with yarn lassos, ground pounds, gravity-resisting maneuvers, and context-sensitive transformations. It feels a bit more like Yoshi's Island than Kirby Super Star.
Challenge: Kirby games are known for their low barrier of entry. Epic Yarn sets the bar even lower. It is impossible to die in this game: being struck by enemies or tumbling down bottomless pits will restart Kirby right where he left off, at the cost of some Beads.
Pacing: I believe the cutscenes are skippable, but they don't last very long anyway. Stages seem to take between five and ten minutes to finish so far. A boss fight changes things up after four or five stages.
Fun Factor: This is one of those games I'm enjoying more for the aesthetics than the core mechanics. The platforming is pretty dull so far, but the stitching of fabric and yarn into the classic grab 'n jump style is enough to keep me interested.
Would I keep playing? I guess so. I wouldn't say this yarn is epic yet, but I'm still interested in seeing where it leads.
Words from beyond the First Hour: I've stitched all the pieces of Patch Land back together, freed Dream Land from Yin-Yarn's rule, and acquired all the hidden treasures, fabrics and songs. I even decorated Kirby's Pad and sent a picture of it to my Wii message board. I think it's safe to say I've seen just about everything this game has to offer.
When it's all said and done, Kirby's Epic Yarn is a good game. It doesn't push the 2D platforming genre anywhere it hasn't already been many times before, but it does provide enough variation and style to keep interest from dipping over the half-dozen hours it will take to finish every stage. Beyond that, players can look for the hidden treasures, shoot for high scores and medals, and play through the extensive collection of hide-and-seek, cargo carry, enemy hunt, Bead collection, and ghost racing mini-challenges. The post-game content takes about as long to finish as the pre-credits content does, but don't get too excited: those mini-challenges are all played in portions of stages from the main game and rarely feel unique enough to appreciate. Other than decorations for Kirby's apartment, there are no tangible incentives to continue playing after you've seen everything in the story mode once.
I played through the entire game alone, but I can imagine that co-op would have made the experience great rather than merely good. Doesn't it always? With that in mind, I'd definitely recommend Kirby's Epic Yarn to anybody who wants to play a short and sugary-sweet cooperative platforming experience, especially with someone who only plays games casually and would feel more comfortable with the low barrier to entry than they would with, say, New Super Mario Bros Wii. If you're thinking of going it alone through Patch Land, I say check out Good-Feel's other Wii platformer, Wario Land: Shake It!, first. It's similar to Epic Yarn in many ways, but provides tougher and more varied challenges that rely not only on platforming skill but also stage-based puzzle logic. If you're still intent on following this epic yarn to its end, then a rental might be the smarter choice.