Giant Bomb Review

218 Comments

Kirby's Epic Yarn Review

5
  • WII

Nintendo and Good-Feel stab straight at the cute center of your brain in this adorable and addictive platformer.

Just because a game offers up an easy-going experience doesn't automatically relegate it to the status of "kids game." Take Kirby's Epic Yarn, Nintendo's first console-based adventure for its vacuum-powered, squishy-cute mascot since 2003's Kirby's Air Ride for the GameCube (dude's been pretty much rocking the GBA and DS exclusively since that time). This is a game that is, by most people's definition, pretty short, and pretty easy. This game doesn't require any particularly crazy skills to progress through its levels, nor does it even toy with the concept of in-game death. Literally, you cannot die.

 Pulling at tabs, buttons and zippers will often reap rewards in this game. Not so much in real life...
At the same time, something about Kirby's Epic Yarn transcends the traditional notion of "challenge" as being a primary factor to make a game worth playing. Developer Good-Feel (apt, very apt) has discovered something slightly insidious here, harnessing the power of overwhelming cuteness not just to create an endorphin-releasing visual experience, but to make its gameplay somehow far more compelling than it seems like it really ought to be, given its relative simplicity.

This thoroughly precious tale begins with a bit of storybook introduction about Kirby's latest predicament. One day, Kirby runs afoul of a cranky sorcerer by the name of Yin-Yarn, who is, appropriately enough, constructed entirely from yarn. After gobbling up Yin-Yarn's delicious Metamato (as Kirby is often wont to do), Yin-Yarn angrily turns the tables on our resident sucker-up of all things evil, and sucks Kirby into an alternate dimension via a magical gym sock. Kirby awakens in a reality in which the world around him "feels like pants" (the narrator's words, not mine), as all of the world appears constructed out of various types of patchwork materials. Much to his surprise, Kirby discovers that even his body has gone the arts-and-crafts route, with his previously pudgy mass replaced by outlines of pink and red yarn.

This sudden change in body mass also happens to rob our favorite walking Dirt Devil of his powers of suction, meaning that Epic Yarn doesn't really play quite the way that a typical Kirby platformer would. Now, Kirby's primary weapon is a piece of wayward yarn he can toss in the direction of enemies to either pull them apart or grab them, roll them up into a ball of yarn, and toss as a projectile. More important than that, though, is how Kirby's yarn arm comes into play as he hops and jumps around each of the game's levels. Progression through the world requires you to be aware of various dangling threads, loose buttons, and other attachable linens scattered around each stage. Sometimes latching onto one of these will simply provide Kirby a place to swing from, and other times, it might unstitch a significant chunk of the environment, revealing a new area to traverse.

Death from adorable!
Half of the game's addictive quality comes from simply wanting to pull at every random thread and button and patch that the game presents you with. I won't sit here and pretend that that doesn't have quite a bit to do with how unabashedly precious everything in this game is, because it totally does. The visuals are, by any standard, delectable. The detail that's gone into each and every piece of fabric woven into this game world is entirely impressive, and at the same time, spine-meltingly adorable. On top of all of that, Epic Yarn is one of those rare games where visual presentation actually feeds your desire to keep playing. Every world has its own unique, patchwork feel to it, and exploring each stage not only offers up amusing visual treats (my particular favorite being the game's definition of "water," which is just blue yarn that you swim around in), but ample opportunities for discovery as well.

Every stage is chock full of "beads," little candy-colored gems that practically beg to be collected. Many of these are hidden behind various threads and buttons and zippers in each stage. The idea is to collect enough beads in each level to earn yourself a gold medal--doing so during boss fights even allows you to unlock additional hidden stages in each game world. More to the point though, these beads are the game's sole method of punishment for not playing well. Getting hit or falling down a pit will cause you to lose almost embarrassing numbers of beads. Maybe it's just my natural desire to collect every gleaming, shiny thing in front of me, but every time I finished a level with sub-standard bead numbers, I wanted to go back and play again.

There are also myriad rewards to collect, including various pieces of furniture, and new musical tracks to play with. These furniture pieces can be used in your own little apartment you get at the beginning of the game, or you can place them in other apartments found in the complex. Doing so will cause new people to move in, and each one of these new tenants comes with a new minigame to play along with them (hide and seek, races, etc.). These rewards are, arguably, the weakest part of the game, unfortunately. The minigames are decent enough, but the stitched-in Animal Crossing elements don't hold a great deal of sway.

The cuteness of that yarn dragon is melting my brain! I just want to hurrrrrrrrrrr...
I haven't even gotten into Kirby's incredibly fun form-shifting abilities (by entering vortexes found in certain stages, Kirby will change into anything ranging from an acrobatic dolphin, to an off-road racer, to an enormous, yarn-missile-launching tank) or the game's excellent two-player functionality (a second player can take control of Prince Fluff, a cantankerous looking blue yarn creature that has all the same abilities as Kirby), but at this point, I feel like rambling on too much longer would rob you of the game's best quality--its feeling of constant discovery. Every single time I found some new form Kirby could take on, or encountered a new, aggressively cute world to explore, I found myself with a big, doofy grin splayed across my face.

And that is what Kirby's Epic Yarn is all about. It's not a game for people who like to grit their teeth in white-knuckled frustration, but rather the perfect play experience for people who like to kick back and have a breezy time playing around and seeing all the aesthetic delights a game like this can offer up. I consider myself a fairly cynical person by nature. That Kirby's Epic Yarn left me a smiling, cooing, mushy-brained mess of happy by the end of it says an awful lot about how well-constructed and almost painfully pleasing this game is to play. Alex Navarro on Google+
218 Comments
Posted by Demonstride

Awseome now I need a Wii 

Posted by Sil3n7

Shit got unraveled.

Posted by Jayross

SO FUCKING CUTE!

Posted by Dad_Is_A_Zombie

Pardon my skepticism that this is a 5 star game.

Posted by angelfan91

I really wish I still had my Wii. :(
Posted by WorldDude

I can't wait to play this! One of my most anticipated Fall releases.

Posted by Daveyo520

God I want this so bad!

Posted by Sharpless
@Dad_Is_A_Zombie said:
" Pardon my skepticism that this is a 5 star game. "
It's Kirby, son. Kirby don't mess.
Posted by rjayb89

This is fucking adorable.

Posted by zyn

Alex reviewing games again?!  Fuck yes!

Posted by JokerFrown

Glad I hung onto my Wii.  Now to get the money...Back to the corner of no way and out...

Posted by Yummylee

Ryan's sobbing in the corner after not being able to review this.

Posted by fishmicmuffin

The quick look was awesome, I'll have to check the game out.

Posted by Scooper

Unless you've got a heart of cold steel you've got to love this game. I've only seen a tiny amount of gameplay from this but I already can see it's the Wii GOTY. Just watching it just makes you feel good, which is really cool!

Posted by Eribuster

Can't wait to pick this up!

Posted by Bigandtasty

the quick look alone makes me go d'awwwwwwwwww

Posted by gakon

Kirby games have always been easy, but that's never stopped them from being fun.

Posted by G0DF4TH3R

dam this is game, might make me buy a wii

Posted by kollay

Just Kirby's fucking grunts and childish gibberish is enough to soften an overly homophobic muscular bigot.

Posted by Junior_AIN

Knew this was gonna be awesome!

Posted by LordXavierBritish

Wow I wasn't expecting 5 stars. 
 
Might pick this up sooner than I thought I would.

Posted by supermonkey122

Is Alex part of GB now or something???
Posted by heatDrive88
CUTENESS OVERLOAD! AHHHHHHHH 
Posted by TerraDelu

Fantastic use of the word "doofy"!

Posted by jelekeloy

This looks pretty goddamn awesome.  If it's really as cute as it sounds, I might get myself a Wii.  But please, don't tell my friends!

Edited by SuperfluousMoniker

I don't care how many stars you give it, a game in which you cannot die, a game with no challenge, does not intrigue me. Would you feel good after winning a fight with a paraplegic? That's probably how I would feel after beating this game.

Posted by risseless
@Sharpless said:
It's Kirby, son. Kirby don't mess. "
I lol'd.
Posted by PlasmaMachine

Alex Navarro's reward for his 30 Days of Hate: Soft and fluffy happiness via Epic Yarn.

Posted by ZombiePie

Sounds good.

Moderator
Posted by DXmagma
@Sharpless said:
" @Dad_Is_A_Zombie said:
" Pardon my skepticism that this is a 5 star game. "
It's Kirby, son. Kirby don't mess. "
even if he's made out of mesh in this game.
Posted by RoyCampbell

Nice manly-looking Alex to go along with this manly game.

Posted by Noodles
@SuperfluousMoniker said:
" I don't care how many stars you give it, a game in which you cannot die, a game with no challenge, does not intrigue me. Would you feel good after winning a fight with a paraplegic? That's probably how I would feel after beating this game. "
I'm pretty sure that the pleasure center in your brain is completely busted.
Posted by HadesTimes

Wow that was fast, the game does look great.

Posted by Nunchuckles

Yeah Alex. Now can we get him to review really really bad games and get some video review of those. I think we all need another video review of Big Rigs!

Posted by SuperfluousMoniker
@Noodles:  The pleasure center in my brain activates when I overcome a challenge. I stand by my analogy. Fighting someone who can't fight back is no fun.
Posted by Hailinel
@PlasmaMachine said:
" Alex Navarro's reward for his 30 Days of Hate: Soft and fluffy happiness via Epic Yarn. "
Damn straight.  To be bathed in such cuteness is a kind and just reward.  Also, it's great to know that the game turned out so well.
Posted by sagesebas

The earlier games were great but because you could fly they felt super easy

Posted by prestons

I can't get over how unique this game looks.  Is creativity easier in 2D?

Posted by Claude

 Real life can suck sometimes. I need to weave some cuteness into my world.

Posted by MikkaQ
@SuperfluousMoniker said:
" @Noodles:  The pleasure center in my brain activates when I overcome a challenge. I stand by my analogy. Fighting someone who can't fight back is no fun. "
Then maybe you're just too nice a guy for Kirby's virtual bullying of a distant universe.  
 
Seriously, he's kindof an asshole. He just destroys everything. 
 
But whatever, he's too cute to stay mad at. D'aww....
Posted by Genjai
@zyn said:
" Alex reviewing games again?!  Fuck yes! "
That was my thought. Kinda weird seeing him right again, but hey, all of whiskey media gets the Giant Bomb dollars, so that works, I guess.
Posted by MormonWarrior

Five stars?!? Didn't see that coming. Maybe I will check this out...
 
I do agree - difficulty doesn't make a game good. There are those games - Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta, etc. - that really make the difficulty level central to the experience. But there a numerous games where making them hard is just frustrating - I turned the original Mass Effect to the easiest setting and enjoyed it most there. I've heard people do the same in Red Faction: Guerrilla to make it more fun.

Posted by SuperfluousMoniker
@XII_Sniper:  Apparently. I'll be over here trying to improve my times on Splash Hill Zone. I've got under a minute on the first two stages and still working on the third.
Posted by Death_Unicorn
@XII_Sniper said:
" @SuperfluousMoniker said:
" @Noodles:  The pleasure center in my brain activates when I overcome a challenge. I stand by my analogy. Fighting someone who can't fight back is no fun. "
Then maybe you're just too nice a guy for Kirby's virtual bullying of a distant universe.   Seriously, he's kindof an asshole. He just destroys everything.  But whatever, he's too cute to stay mad at. D'aww.... "
These were my thoughts when I saw the quick look. I think Kirby is actually the antagonist.
Posted by Landon

Now I would like to see a traditional Kirby game with high res art.

Posted by Jayzz
@MormonWarrior said:
" Five stars?!? Didn't see that coming. Maybe I will check this out... I do agree - difficulty doesn't make a game good. There are those games - Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta, etc. - that really make the difficulty level central to the experience. But there a numerous games where making them hard is just frustrating - I turned the original Mass Effect to the easiest setting and enjoyed it most there. I've heard people do the same in Red Faction: Guerrilla to make it more fun. "
i dont really enjoy challenging games unless im against other real people, playing games on anything but easy just feels like a waste of time. It's not fun to me.
Posted by slowbird

I don't play games for the challenge of it.  Maybe racing and sports games.  But other games I play just to see how the story goes and how it ends.

Posted by ratzombie
@SuperfluousMoniker:  That's fine that it doesn't intrigue you, but as hard as it may be for you to accept, other people may find satisfaction in a game of this type. Not everyone wants a game that is balls-to-the-wall challenging, nor do they require killings and explosions throughout to enjoy it. 
 
That being said, I enjoy games that do present a challenge, but at the same time I can just as easily find enjoyment in a game such as "Flower."
Posted by DukesT3

The swinging together part is possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen in videogames.  
 
My heart melts... 

Posted by JeanLuc

AHH! I want to play this game so bad!