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Unraveling Kirby's Epic Yarn

Nintendo's heroic pink powder puff is cross-stitching his way back into our hearts with this homespun side-scrolling adventure.

Of all the games that Nintendo revealed at its E3 2010 press conference--which there were legion--none captured, for me, the essential playfulness and creativity that Nintendo embodies when it's at its best like Kirby's Epic Yarn. After playing through a couple of levels and a boss encounter in Epic Yarn at Nintendo's booth, I'm pleased to say that the arts-and-craftsy visual motif seems to hold up, and lends some fun twists to the simple, forgiving gameplay.

 It's like, spinning a yarn, like you're telling a big story, but also literally yarn. Wordplay!
Part of what helped Epic Yarn make such a strong first impression on me was the art style. There are certainly shades of Paper Mario and LittleBigPlanet in the cut-and-paste presentation here, but Epic Yarn seems to carve out its own unique niche with a specific focus on tactile textiles. Everything in the game--environments, enemies, and Kirby himself--appear to be fabricated from simple craft supplies like felt, buttons, zippers, and, of course, yarn. It's a striking look, and little touches in the background, like the way one piece of the environment is stitched into another, really drive that handcrafted feeling home. 

It's not all just for show, though, and the gameplay implications were apparent pretty quickly during my time with Epic Yarn. Though the game is played from a strictly 2D perspective, there's a lot of layering of materials going on, and I found myself undoing zippers to reveal new paths or tugging on buttons sewn into the background to literally pull parts of the environment closer to me, bunching up the very fabric of Kirby's reality in the process.  
== TEASER == 
  
While the art style represents the obvious departure for Kirby, the sections of the game being shown eschewed some of the fundamentals about Kirby, such as his ability to suck up enemies and steal their abilities, or his knack for simply floating through levels. The controls, which have you holding the Wii Remote sideways, still have an airy feel to them, though Kirby's primary means of interaction with the world around him is a bit of the yarn he's made out of, which he can lash out at enemies or objects. Kirby's got decent ups, and a double-tap on the jump button turns him into a parachute that slowly floats to the ground. Similarly, double-tapping a direction on the d-pad turns Kirby into a car that speedily dashes across the screen.

      And when I finished the demo, I got this sweet Kirby patch. Yay!
My time with Epic Yarn was actually as a cooperative two-player game, with the lovely Nintendo assistant playing as princely counterpart to Kirby. The interplay between the two characters was pretty mellow for the most part, though at one point the two merged into a giant crazy tank, with one character controlling movement while the other controlled the giant boxing glove that was attached to it.

The stakes seem very low in Epic Yarn, and there doesn't seem to be a way to really lose--it's just a matter of how good your score is once you cross the finish line. There's something to be said for some easy-going platforming action, though to be completely honest, I'm more enamored with the game's look than anything else. As Reggie mentioned during the press conference, it's been seven long years since Kirby--an oft-neglected member of Nintendo's stable of mascots--had a full console game he could call his own, and this is looking like a more than suitable homecoming. 
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Posted by Ryan

Of all the games that Nintendo revealed at its E3 2010 press conference--which there were legion--none captured, for me, the essential playfulness and creativity that Nintendo embodies when it's at its best like Kirby's Epic Yarn. After playing through a couple of levels and a boss encounter in Epic Yarn at Nintendo's booth, I'm pleased to say that the arts-and-craftsy visual motif seems to hold up, and lends some fun twists to the simple, forgiving gameplay.

 It's like, spinning a yarn, like you're telling a big story, but also literally yarn. Wordplay!
Part of what helped Epic Yarn make such a strong first impression on me was the art style. There are certainly shades of Paper Mario and LittleBigPlanet in the cut-and-paste presentation here, but Epic Yarn seems to carve out its own unique niche with a specific focus on tactile textiles. Everything in the game--environments, enemies, and Kirby himself--appear to be fabricated from simple craft supplies like felt, buttons, zippers, and, of course, yarn. It's a striking look, and little touches in the background, like the way one piece of the environment is stitched into another, really drive that handcrafted feeling home. 

It's not all just for show, though, and the gameplay implications were apparent pretty quickly during my time with Epic Yarn. Though the game is played from a strictly 2D perspective, there's a lot of layering of materials going on, and I found myself undoing zippers to reveal new paths or tugging on buttons sewn into the background to literally pull parts of the environment closer to me, bunching up the very fabric of Kirby's reality in the process.  
== TEASER == 
  
While the art style represents the obvious departure for Kirby, the sections of the game being shown eschewed some of the fundamentals about Kirby, such as his ability to suck up enemies and steal their abilities, or his knack for simply floating through levels. The controls, which have you holding the Wii Remote sideways, still have an airy feel to them, though Kirby's primary means of interaction with the world around him is a bit of the yarn he's made out of, which he can lash out at enemies or objects. Kirby's got decent ups, and a double-tap on the jump button turns him into a parachute that slowly floats to the ground. Similarly, double-tapping a direction on the d-pad turns Kirby into a car that speedily dashes across the screen.

      And when I finished the demo, I got this sweet Kirby patch. Yay!
My time with Epic Yarn was actually as a cooperative two-player game, with the lovely Nintendo assistant playing as princely counterpart to Kirby. The interplay between the two characters was pretty mellow for the most part, though at one point the two merged into a giant crazy tank, with one character controlling movement while the other controlled the giant boxing glove that was attached to it.

The stakes seem very low in Epic Yarn, and there doesn't seem to be a way to really lose--it's just a matter of how good your score is once you cross the finish line. There's something to be said for some easy-going platforming action, though to be completely honest, I'm more enamored with the game's look than anything else. As Reggie mentioned during the press conference, it's been seven long years since Kirby--an oft-neglected member of Nintendo's stable of mascots--had a full console game he could call his own, and this is looking like a more than suitable homecoming. 
Edited by MuttersomeTaxicab

woot! 
 
Edit: 
Pirst fost!
Posted by redwing42

Kirby is pretty cool, but not sure what this is going to bring to the table...
Edited by Vorbis

It looks great, so is the commerical that probably inspired the art direction.
 
 

 
Can't stop watching it, it's almost as bad as the Chu Chu Rocket ad. 

Posted by CyleMoore

As a grown ass man, I am truly excited for this game.

Posted by BabyChooChoo
@CyleMoore: I do not blame you. I've never really been a Kirby fan and I want this game. Hell, I don't own a Wii, but this alone might change that.
Posted by Nac

Oh man. Totally jealous of the patch! I love the art style both in this and the new Zelda. at least Nintendo is making due with that little graphical power they have.

Posted by WeepingWillow

2D platforming and a unique, cool art style?
 
Sign me up.

Posted by gosukiller

For a moment when they said they were revamping Kirby, I hoped for this:
 

Posted by JeffGoldblum
@Vorbis said:
" It looks great, so is the commerical that probably inspired the art direction.
 
 
 
Can't stop watching it, it's almost as bad as the Chu Chu Rocket ad. 

"
I finally beat that game yesterday. I hadn't touched in years and I had a save at the final boss. It took me a few good hours, but I beat it.
Posted by metalsnakezero

I want that Patch!

Posted by soralapio
@gosukiller said:
" For a moment when they said they were revamping Kirby, I hoped for this:
 

"
Yes a stupid "mature" version of a nice and fun game definitely would've been better than a gorgeous, inventive platformer.
Posted by ryanwho

Can't wait for Kirby's Story.

Posted by GetBentTheVideoGame
@CyleMoore said:
" As a grown ass man, I am truly excited for this game. "  
What he said                ^^^
Posted by FunExplosions
@soralapio said:
" @gosukiller said:
" For a moment when they said they were revamping Kirby, I hoped for this:
 

"
Yes a stupid "mature" version of a nice and fun game definitely would've been better than a gorgeous, inventive platformer. "
What's with this crazy flood of childish douchebags. First off, that's not what he meant, he was being sarcastic. Second off, why the hell are you so defensive of Kirby? Oh, shit... he's not your son, is he?
Posted by Aaron_G

I like the art style. 

Posted by Willy105

It better be worth the over 6 year long development time.

Posted by auspiciousqueue

Reading that makes me want to play the game.

Posted by Hourai

This along with Zelda convinced me to buy a Wii. 

Edited by skrutop

That game is so damn cute that it's not even funny.   I wanna have kids just to have an excuse to get that game.

Posted by ryanwho
@FunExplosions said:
" @soralapio said:
" @gosukiller said:
" For a moment when they said they were revamping Kirby, I hoped for this:
 

"
Yes a stupid "mature" version of a nice and fun game definitely would've been better than a gorgeous, inventive platformer. "
What's with this crazy flood of childish douchebags. First off, that's not what he meant, he was being sarcastic. Second off, why the hell are you so defensive of Kirby? Oh, shit... he's not your son, is he? "
Yall are killing the spirit of this article. Take your bad attitudes and git.
Posted by gosukiller
@ryanwho said:
" @FunExplosions said:
" @soralapio said:
" @gosukiller said:
" For a moment when they said they were revamping Kirby, I hoped for this:
 

"
Yes a stupid "mature" version of a nice and fun game definitely would've been better than a gorgeous, inventive platformer. "
What's with this crazy flood of childish douchebags. First off, that's not what he meant, he was being sarcastic. Second off, why the hell are you so defensive of Kirby? Oh, shit... he's not your son, is he? "
Yall are killing the spirit of this article. Take your bad attitudes and git. "
Just wanted to poke fun, Soralopio misinterpreted it as a complaint against the cuteness of Kirby.
Posted by gakon

When I first read the title I saw "Kirby's Epic Yam", which actually still made sense to me.

Posted by ryanwho

You're fine. Everyone else, git. Go to the DK article.

Posted by TheKidNixon

The job title "Nintendo Assistant" might have just jumped to the top of my list of dream gigs.

Posted by bpriller

I really loved the look of this game.  Something I think almost anyone can get into...even the 'core might find it cute.

Posted by LiamExe

Game is looking pretty unique, definitely gonna be watching this. :O

Posted by Flikery

Love the art style; if the Wii wants to compete directly with the other guys, they need to compensate for its lack of graphical power with unique and creative looks like this. Good work on the article, GB!

Posted by Olivaw

This game looks adorable.

Posted by Elerigo

I WAT IT NOW

Posted by ashogo
@Willy105 said:
" It better be worth the over 6 year long development time. "
I doubt it's been in development for 6 years. They used to be working on a gcn Kirby that was scrapped.
 
I love how happy Ryan looks with his kirby patch.
Posted by PlainBlack

Love the art style and unique gameplay mechanic (the whole unraveling thing), but wish it wasn't a Kirby game. Just about any other character would suffice.

Posted by soralapio
@FunExplosions said:
What's with this crazy flood of childish douchebags. First off, that's not what he meant, he was being sarcastic. Second off, why the hell are you so defensive of Kirby? Oh, shit... he's not your son, is he? "
No, he's my father and we're pretty sensitive about his eating problem, you big jerk!
Posted by LaunchpadMcQuaq
@GetBentTheVideoGame said:
" @CyleMoore said:
" As a grown ass man, I am truly excited for this game. "  
What he said                ^^^ "
ditto
Edited by Blair

That is a sweet Kirby patch, damn.

Posted by dougmansion
@dxhc99 said:
" @GetBentTheVideoGame said:
" @CyleMoore said:
" As a grown ass man, I am truly excited for this game. "  
What he said                ^^^ "
ditto "
Same here.
Posted by MeatSim

That Kirby patch at stated is sweet.

Posted by SharpCypher

The art in this reminds me of what they did with Yoshi's Story.  Innovative style.  Stuff we've never seen before.

Posted by Aquavelvaman

This game is almost too cute

Posted by Catolf
@Aquavelvaman said:
" This game is almost too cute "
this.. teeth rotting-ly so.
Edited by ThatFrood
@CyleMoore said:

" As a grown ass man, I am truly excited for this game. "

What's it like, being an ass man?
Posted by Captainlunchbox

This is the most inventive graphical style I've seen since Okami's. Love this.

Posted by Reetesh

 Am a huge kirby fan... This reminded me of the Crayon Kirby game from SNES. But the gameplay is nothing like that, its nothing like the old kirbys. The pace is also very slow. 
 
I wonder why the main character is still kirby, I mean, the game could have worked well with "a new round character from creator of Kirby" 
 
But yeah, going to definitely get the game. I'm already sold :P

Posted by monkeytodd

It does have a paper mario feel...but the art design looks awesome

Posted by habster3
@Catolf said:
" @Aquavelvaman said:
" This game is almost too cute "
this.. teeth rotting-ly so."
Posted by JackSukeru

I really didn't think that a Kirby game would interest me again but hey, this looks really cool.

Posted by Ace829
@skrutop said:
" That game is so damn cute that it's not even funny.   I wanna have kids just to have an excuse to get that game. "
Here's a good excuse to get it: It will be a great game. :)
Posted by Dark_Psych0

I really hope this game is good. I used to love me some kirby.

Posted by Korne

This looks pretty cool, but I have two questions... 
-Why did they pick such terrible music for this trailer? I remember Kirby having some kick-ass tunes. 
-Why is this a Kirby game? This should be a new IP with a new potential mascot for Nintendo, but instead, it takes Kirby out of his element and potentially alienates the fans of the old games (aka me).

Posted by SenorTrampoline
@Korne: Canvas Curse says Hi. :)
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