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Nintendo Wii Review: Kirby’s Epic Yarn

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There is little black used in Epic Yarn, the colors that signify danger settling into rich blues or vivid purple, enough to establish the nature of the boss fights. The game utilizes its palette beautifully, every screen producing brilliant imagination and unique shades, creating a world that is as gorgeous to look at as it is to play in.

A lot goes into making Kirby’s trip into a world of fabrics complete, including the subtle animations, and attention to detail. Butterflies are animated as a single string that wraps around itself, a complex bit of animation that brings added life to the scenery. Kirby can turn into a small car, acting as his run when the D-pad is double-tapped, but later becomes a sled in the snow, that perfect accompaniment to the level design. Buttons that Kirby can latch onto and swing from bow from the pressure, and pulling loose stitching bends the entire backdrop.

Like Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Epic Yarn brings with it a child’s imagination, the former taking a colored marker approach, the latter strings, fabrics, and cotton. Our narrator sets the tone between stages, as energetic and clear as Jean Sheperd in the classic film, A Christmas Story. In a way, this Nintendo effort is to video games what that movie was for Hollywood, a peak inside the mind of a child, here as they dream about Kirby’s adventures in storybook fashion.

It’s easy to go out on a limb and say this is the best of all Nintendo platformers of the modern era, that including the vastly under-appreciated Wario Land Shake-it and various New Super Mario Bros titles. It does more than those games combined, thanks to its carefully created atmosphere, tone, and piano-driven calming music.

You are not playing Epic Yarn for its challenge. Approaching the game in that mindset is terribly misguided, as if there is some arbitrary guideline about death in video games. Kirby can’t die, and he shouldn’t. Let’s face it: He’s made of yarn here, unable to use his powers of suction, resorting to swinging a piece of his head to corral enemies into yarn balls. There is no frustration, the combination of soft visuals, sparingly placed enemies, and forgiving level design crafted with the idea of progression. It’s like being a child who can’t put down a storybook in the best way.

Epic Yarn is certainly aimed at the younger set, or those who are willing to drop their military shooter to escape into their inner child. This is a game for all, exactly what the typical modern platformer tends to forget. They make themselves overly difficult, and even make jokes of themselves, and Kirby waltzes by having fun. It’s the world of Epic Yarn that generates the joy and entertainment, not some artificially inflated sense of self-worth.

There is plenty of content between the smooth, precise platforming stages. Kirby can transform, this time taking the role of a hulking tank, quick-flying rocket ship, admittedly sloppily designed train, and a speedy little submarine. It’s adorable, again channeling a child’s imagination to base these creations. Who didn’t wish they could turn into a rocket and fly into space as a child, or play in the tub imagining what it would be like to be a sub? Epic Yarn takes everyone back, from the hardcore platformer fan to those just starting out.

Level designs are focused on increasingly loopy tricks, not simply falling platforms (although it has many of those too). Zero gravity, wind, water currents, secret doors, going behind the fabric that makes up the background, or being shot out of a cannon keep Epic Yarn fresh throughout. The addition of gems, utilized to both buy new furniture for Kirby’s apartment and unlock new stages is where the hardcore gamer can find their niche. Getting hit or falling down a pit spills those precious jewels, eliminating a chance to unlock an added level.

Epic Yarn requires a smidgen of reaction time and light thought to pass, and even a little motion control which only proves to adversely effect the game when lying track for the mini-train. It never goes where you expect it to. Otherwise, Epic Yarn is a break from the monotony of game’s trying to re-establish a genre by being overly hard, when they miss the point entirely. We didn’t play this genre because it was hard; we played it because the games were fun. If the industry as a whole can’t understand that ideal, the future is dimmer than we could imagine.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Cartoon Violence.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • thought this was related to Jack Kirby 🙁