By Video_Game_King 13 Comments
Kirby's Epic Yarn( Why did it take me this long to get around to Epic Yarn?) I left it sitting next to Epic Mickey for months, and when I finally got around to playing it, I beat it in under a week. Why does this sound familiar? Oh, now I remember: Silent Hill 2. About one year ago, I did the exact same thing, and...wait, no, these games are completely different. Do I even have to say it? Well, I do have to say one thing, maybe: Epic Yarn is far more enjoyable than Silent Hill 2. At least Epic Yarn didn't give me a demonic cosmic horror (you most likely know it as "Chickenhead").
Though that doesn't mean it doesn't try. The game begins with a deafening "aye-aye" from the protagonist before introducing the main villain of the game, a sorcerer by the vaguely racist name of Yin Yarn. He broke out of some other dimension to turn everything into yarn. Then again, it is yarn, so if Nintendo was really trying to be scary, this is a very shitty attempt. However, they more likely wanted a warm and friendly feel to the game, and if that's the case, then Nintendo may know a thing or two about marketing to five year olds. Everything really feels like it's made of yarn, giving the game a pleasant storybook feel to it (especially when you open up any new level ever with the otherwise-useless patches), like you'd read this to your child to get them to sleep. In fact, I think that's what this game was made for: calming kids into a coma. Just listen to the soundtrack. Have you woken up yet? (I should probably mention that I'm not insulting the game when I say that it puts you to sleep.) Didn't that feel exactly like Winnie the Pooh or whatever your parents used to shut you up many years ago? Imagine Story Hour: Adventures, only with about 900% less suck, and 6666% less of a fixation on the number six. Oh, right: the story. Anyway, Yin Yarn's turning things into yarn. Why? He honestly doesn't remember (the soothing voice of Mickey Rooney (I'm not sure if that's a joke) goes out of its way to tell you that much), but it has something to do with conquering a kingdom of some type. Kirby, left with nothing better to do (I'll explain why later), sets out to stop Yin Yarn from conquering this kingdom. But he's not alone! He has the mighty Prince Fluff at his side to...actually, he's completely useless to the plot, but he does pop in a co-op mode. That's all I can say about that.
If you want me to insult something for being completely useless, how about the housing feature? Yes, like Aquaria, Epic Yarn has a house feature, and like Aquaria, it's not very useful. I doubt that it's the first rule of game design, but there's a rule in game design that states "only put housing features in a game if said game is Animal Crossing." Then again, unlike Aquaria, Kirby at least tries to get some mileage out of it. Instead of just having your own house that you can look at when you're not jumping past Waddle Doos, you also decorate other houses for other tenants. Granted, the whole process seems backward (you'd think that you'd decorate once you have a potential customer, not decorate and wait for some schmuck to take a look), but it is pulled off fairly well, as long as you forget that it's a mostly useless house feature. After all, it does offer a bunch of cool mini-games that are much more fun than some random guy telling you that you need to decorate houses for him. I'd say that it also gives you a decent reason to collect everything in each level, since everything's either furniture or money that goes to more furniture, but collecting is already good on its own. Any space that isn't filled with beads is either filled with a treasure of some type or even more beads. That not enough for you? Well, Epic Yarn also has instant gratification for you; again, there are so many damn collectibles that I was surprised the first time I didn't 100% a level.
Normally, I'd use that to segue into how easy the game is, but let's put that off for now. I just realized that I haven't even told you guys what type of game this is. Obviously, it's a platformer that does some pretty cool stuff. You have unique dual plane areas, using enemies as platforms, sometimes (I kinda wish that it was used more often), and a level ripped from Aquaria, of all places. Who knew that Nintendo paid attention to semi-obscure indie games? However, there is one part of the game that trumps all others: the yarn. That much should be obvious, given that it's also been the basis for the graphics and the name. I'd list off all the ways that it's used, but again, it's the basis of the game, meaning there's way too much shit to list off. I'll just leave it at the ability to unravel enemies like that one episode of Ed Edd & Eddy. I'm guessing that it was included to make up for how you can't suck up enemies and steal their powers (again, Mickey Rooney (again, not sure if that's a joke) goes out of his way to tell you this). How can you do that, Nintendo? That would be like a Fire Emblem where death isn't permanent (probably why this is stuck in Japan). Granted, there are still power-ups, like the "hey, remember Canvas Curse?" train (Canvas Curse was better than the train), or the two shmup power-ups near the end of the game, but it's just not the same. Those are pretty limited (although solid) instances, and the balled up enemies that you can throw at other enemies are usually the same ball. I just want my good old Kirby back ( irony for you). Not that this is my largest complaint or anything; the platforming in this game is still pretty tight, and as I said before, it does make decent use of its power-ups.
My biggest complaint would probably be how easy the game is. I know that I've been saying this of quite a few games recently, but if all of these games were part of a slutty group, Epic Yarn would be the reason why none of them would own a Wii. (Think about it, but not too much.) Remember what I said about 100%ing most levels? I wasn't kidding; I actually did get 100% in most levels on the first try. Obviously, I'm not a completionist (I'll mostly make a beeline to the ending and then do this), so what the crap? In retrospect, I probably should have saved that "what the crap" for the following: you can't die. I have gone out of my way to kill Kirby, be it by falling down holes without anything that could be construed as health, or by getting hit under the same conditions. The results? No death. Kirby lives a horrifying existence, unable to end the pain that I continue to afflict upon him. How was this game released in the same year as Super Meat Boy? That confuses the hell out of me. The only decently challenging part of the game would be the bosses. OK, so you still can't die, but they don't go down without a fight. Expect to get hit a few times (how do you think I found out about the lack of death?). In fact, expect to get hit a ton during the final boss battle. Then again, that may be because it's essentially a mini-boss rush ending with a "just fucking blast 'em" philosophy. I'd ask why the rest of the game can't be like that, but if I wanted to make things blow up every nine seconds, I'd dig up an obscure shmup or something. This is a game you want to play to get five year olds to go to sleep. You know, in a good way. Again.
- Holy shit, I love the ever-so-cute yarn motif! (Odd that I started that with "holy shit.")
- Imagine a regular Kirby game, only you can't suck people up and stuff. Don't imagine the first Kirby game, though, because this is obviously better.
- No matter how much you abuse Kirby, he will never die. Remember that, ultra sadists.
Continuing with the theme of epicness, I decided to post a video that's epicly gay. Kind of odd that a boss called Metal Man is rapping, but as long as it's epic, I'm putting it in this blog.
No.) I can't even remember why that joke was funny in the first place. At least it's the last time I'll ever tell it.
Disney Epic Mickey( That's more l...actually, that's still kinda stupid.) Shouldn't it be Disney's Epic Mickey? Or is Disney a special type of adjective that means "not as good as Looney Tunes, Cartoon Network, or even Nickelodeon"? Maybe both of those explanations are why ( these two) people seem to hate this game? Moving into a sentence that isn't a question, I don't really understand why people hate Epic Mickey like they do. It's a pretty decent game, and I wish there were more platformers than Super Mario Galaxy...and Epic Yarn...and Super Meat Boy...and Alice...and Sonic Colors...I should have left it at "it's a pretty decent game."
But, of course, I will continue, not knowing when to leave it at that. In fact, I'll add to that and make things more complicated: this is a dark game. It begins with Mickey using his mirror as a portal to some alternate dimension where Yen Sid is painting up his own little world. (Consider that a warning that there are A TON of obscure Disney references in this game.) Mickey's first instinct is to fuck up everything Yen Sid has ever done and then run away from it all. You'd think that Mickey would have to face the consequences of his actions, eventually, and he does...in about eighty years. After almost a century of accruing fame, he gets dragged into the world within the dimension and is forced to face facts: Mickey Mouse is an asshole. This is something the game just loves to bring up, especially in its first few parts, and not just because he fucked up an entire universe and abandoned it for eighty years. Keep in mind that Yen Sid created that world for all the forgotten Disney characters. Why are they forgotten? Because Mickey Mouse put all those cows/dogs/rabbits/horses (I'm starting to think that part of being a cartoonist is that you had to grow up on a farm) out of work. Oh, and don't think that the game couples this oppressingly dark atmosphere with some type of warm reassurance, like Fragile Dreams or Majora's Mask; it just calls you a massive dickhead and pretty much leaves it at that. And that's what I love about Epic Mickey: Mickey's characterization. Mickey was in dire need of something that's actually interesting (just look at the lack of entertainment they included as an unlockable), and...uhh...Warren Spector did a good job of turning him into kind of a dick. Yet all is not lost, as Mickey is still a highly likable character! Unlike SpongeBob (FUCK HIM), the writers actually recognized that Mickey did something wrong, so he tries to make amends as he discovers just how badly he fucked things up. Maybe. I'll get into why I said that last thing later.
Right now, I want to point out all the flaws in the story. For example, the plot stops dead in its tracks as soon as the second act pops around, only to pick up in the "when did this become Kingdom Hearts" finale. But that's not what I wanted to talk about. Instead, I wish to bring your attention to the Gremlins. You know, the Gremlins! They're from....I don't know, and I doubt you do, either. Odd, because they play a pretty large role in this game. They can help you skip over some missions entirely, and you even have a permanent Gremlin buddy in the form of Gus. I'm not sure that the English language has any words which accurately capture my hate of this guy, and all other languages are either a mystery to me or don't have decent keyboard support. Every five seconds or so, this green obscurity will chime in about how you might best achieve your goal, in that special way that only Navi or Otis can recreate. Hell, I think he's more annoying than Navi ever was. (Otis still beats him, but not by much.) At I could understand Navi's incessant ramblings; Gus's helpful advice usually comes in the form of a muffled "urhruh, yurhhu-hurhuh" through the speaker on the Wii-mote. I've played No More Heroes, so I know that decent sound quality is possible. As long as we're on No More Heroes, remember how rarely Sylvia called you? Gus is pretty much the opposite of that (though you should have figured that out when I told you that he was an ugly mustache with a muffled voice); every time a confirmation menu comes up (IE every couple of seconds) you have to deal with his annoying muffle. Again, Warren had to have known how annoying this guy was, so why was he even included? I like to think that it's to distract from Mickey's mysterious ass buttons.
Speaking of graphics, this game looks pretty good, aside from the out of place animated cutscenes.....Fuck. I honestly thought that would last me a bit longer. Let's pretend that was longer. Speaking of animation (PRETEND), a large part of the game takes place in 2D platformer levels ripped straight from the pages of Mickey Mania. That's not entirely a joke; like in that game, you'll run through Steamboat Willie (I feel so dirty for writing that), The Mad Doctor, and Lonesome Ghosts. Wait, why did I use a period? There are about a billion more cartoons you'll encounter, and it's amazing how much they feel like an actual cartoon. I even sat through the two unlockable actual cartoons ( the other one is actually kind of OK) and saw all the details they managed to include. They're super fun to experience in all their glory...the first time. Unfortunately, being the means by which cartoons travel from area to area (and conduct business, for reasons unexplained), these 2D levels repeat A LOT. There's absolutely no way to skip them and you'll probably get all you need out of them on your first pass, so over the course of Epic Mickey, they begin to feel a lot like the game is just wasting time. That's when you begin to notice all the minor flaws, like the sticky controls (I'm guessing that developers stopped using analog control because of our instinct to go full throttle with the damn things), or how the game only allows you into these magical portals on its terms.
The rest of the game, of course, is a 3D platformer, and by "3D platformer", I mean "3D game with some platforming elements, but a stronger mission-based structure." By "stronger", I mean "injecting steroids into its testicles because it's faster that way", because there are a ton of missions in this game. Granted, there is a bit of repetition between them (oddly high amount of capturing rabbits and reassembling robot buddies), but dear god, there are still a lot of missions in this game. You even have some leeway in how you can go about solving them. For example, early on in the game, a phone asked me to paint in some things for him. I responded by asking my nearest Gremlin friend to beat the fuck out of him. Why? That answer would require using logic, and I am above logic. This is where I mention the morality system, and also the part where you groan...and the part where I kind of shrug my shoulders and don't entirely blame you. It seems to be law in games that moral ambiguity isn't real (outside Tactics Ogre, maybe), and Epic Mickey is no exception: you can only create or destroy. I spent a lot of my time just smashing/thinning out all objects and melting all of my barnyard buddies into gooey puddles, maliciously laughing as they waved their arms in a futile attempt to summon help. All I got was a disapproving "urhruh, yurhhu-hurhuh." The system's not too good at actually punishing you; all it really does is fuck up your quest completion stats, which you can already do very easily by plowing through the game and letting auto-save work its magic. Still, it plays a good role in that juicy character development I mentioned earlier, so there's that.
Oh, and there's also combat. Holy hell, there's a ton to it. You have sketches you can plop down on enemies (though I never really used them), flying paint grenades if you want to be lazy, and (best of all) spray enemies with paint or thinner. This is where the morality system shines...kind of. Spray them with thinner and they just die; spray them with paint, and you have converted them to the Mickey Mouse Cult, and they will do their best to kill any opposition. Apparently, that's the moral option. It's also the harder option, since most enemies come in groups and will unconvert your loyal followers immediately. That may sound like a complaint, but I just view it as an added strategic nugget, since that problem goes away if you convert enough blots. So do I cover everything in paint, or do I unleash my green Light of Judgment upon everything that I see? I usually took the dual approach, since the game usually requires that you paint and thin things out to advance. I'd mention something about boss battles, but the only thing I have to say is that they blatantly ripped a boss fight from Ocarina of Time. Wait, first Navi and now Ganondorf? Is the final boss against a blotted up Oswald whose face must be painted in a ton before you can thin his tail? *checks* No, they kind of ripped off Lufia II, of all things. Odd way to end a cool game like this.
- I love the atmosphere and how well they handled Mickey's character, but I fucking hate Otis. I can't even show you a video of it because none of them include his dumbass grunts.
- There's some decent platforming, both of the 2D and 3D varieties. 3D's better though, by far.
- You want morality? It only really works in the combat.
- I'm really piling on the long-ass blogs, aren't I? A fourth bullet doesn't help.