Kirby is the character of choice for me when I play Super Smash Bros Brawl. He is right up there alongside Mario and Link when it comes to iconic Nintendo characters. This is mainly due to the great Kirby games which appeared on the original Gameboy. During the era of the N64 and GameCube, he appeared in a couple of instantly forgettable games which meant he played second fiddle to the better known Nintendo mascots. Kirby’s Epic Yarn aims to reboot to the Kirby franchise and to make the pink ball a favourite to a new generation of young gamers. Does it do the job or is it an Epic Yawn?
The easiest way to explain Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a mixture of Mario Bros and Yoshi’s Story which appeared on the N64. The game is a 2D platformer which is aimed at younger gamers. The unique spin on this, is that Kirby’s world is made entirely of patchwork, even the pink ball himself is made of fabric. Everything in the worlds are made of string, patchwork fabrics or yarn. In past Kirby games, you use his ability to inhale enemies and steal their abilities. This has been scrapped in Epic Yarn, instead Kirby now wraps up his enemies into balls of fabric and uses them as weapons. Fans may be disappointed by this at first, but as soon as you wrap up and toss your first enemy, the inability to suck up an enemy is forgotten.
Controlling the game is a simple affair. The controller is held side on, like New Super Mario Bros, which means there is no waggling involved. Kirby’s attacks are simple to pull off, such as his ability to turn into a weight and crush enemies from above. One of the most simple, but satisfying abilities is to turn into a string car. This gets Kirby around faster and is an instant transformation, coupled with a comical car horn sound. Kirby can also turn into a submarine when he falls in water or turn into an umbrella when falling from high platforms. These abilities are used later in the game to solve puzzles and locate hidden treasures. Collecting Treasure is what Kirby is all about. The fabric levels hide many gems, coins and diamonds. Kirby can distort the levels to reveal hidden areas to explore, which often take him into a dimension behind the fabric backgrounds, given a bump in the texture so you see where you are.
The levels are fantastically designed. The real joy when playing the game is seeing what level comes next, then seeing what surprises they hold. Each level has a section where Kirby can transform into a special vehicle or gain a special ability. One of the best and early examples is Tank Kirby. This sees you shooting yarn missiles and crushing the environments in a fabric tank. Another allows you transform into a UFO where you can beam up gems using a tractor beam. They are all fantastic fun to try out and add variety to each level. Seeing as there are over 50 in the game, there is literally never a dull moment. 2 players can also play the game together, which I opted to try with my rather non-gamer fiancée. Within minutes she was rolling my character into yarn balls and throwing me high in the sky to obtain hidden gems. It was instantly accessible and we had we had a great amount of fun going through the campaign together.
Graphically, the game is absolutely fantastic. The style is one of the most refreshing and unique games I have had the pleasure to play. In a time where Call of Duty and FIFA updates dominate the charts, it is great to see an original game popping up with something new. The graphics are the game’s best point, pushing the Wii hardware, not as much as Mario Galaxy 2, but it is definitely one of the best on the system. The levels are huge and brilliantly designed. The animations and physics of the fabric levels move incredibly well, the team have done the best they can with a non HD machine. Sound wise, the music is fairly simple, which is happy and fits the game well. The tunes are not exactly classic material, but they do the job well enough.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a fantastic game. This comes close to knocking Mario off the top spot as the Wii’s best platformer. The game looks, moves and sounds fantastic. The co-op game is an amazing addition. It is not the hardest of games, but not as easy as some would think. Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a breath of fresh air in the current game market, and shows that a brilliant idea can beat HD Graphics any day.
Fantastic Mario-like platforming with fabric based levels and puzzles
One of the best looking game in recent years
Happy go lucky tunes, but not Nintendo’s best