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
Edited by bybeach

I honestly do not want this game, and cannot since I am deprived of a Wii,anyways. But Kirby is getting excellent reviews, and I suspect for good reason(s).  I found the visual aesthetics, and to most degree the music deserving of this and the other scores. And as at least importantly, the game play looked surprisingly good,  That turning into a very credible  tank shooting yarn missiles at yarn opponents in a yarn and cloth world, well, I am impressed. 
 
Kirby the Yarn Creature is just not something I would spend money on for myself, but would make an excellent gift. and actually, And... I guess I would like it. Maybe play it on a day I was snarling about life or overly wrapped up on shit, and just wanted to take a break that didn't involve alcohol or whatever that D word stands for. Just a pleasant  way to mellow the F**K out, with a cloth and nature themed visual complexity ,... nice.And on top of it all, play what looks like a solid-grounded video game.
Posted by MegaGoat
@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. "
Depends if he's using the Jeff Gerstmann Signature Edition wheelchair
Posted by jakob187
@PlasmaMachine said:
" Alex Navarro's reward for his 30 Days of Hate: Soft and fluffy happiness via Epic Yarn. "
Agreed!  The whole time I watched the Quick Look, I kept thinking about how it must be a delight to get the other extreme end of the emotional spectrum after a MONTH of really really really shitty movies.
Posted by Brackynews

Can't "die" in any of the Lego games either.  No challenge? Hardly.
Also, achievements for not dying.  Tougher than it sounds.

Posted by SuperfluousMoniker
@yukine: I can understand that. But a game doesn't have to be balls to the wall to have challenge. I'm not saying games need to be unforgiving and difficult to be fun, but a game in which you can't die seems pointless to me. It's like cheating at solitaire.
Posted by GunnBjorn
@Nunchuckles said:
"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! "

Or RoboCop for the X-Box... XD
Posted by Redbullet685

I want this on DS now!

Posted by habster3

Alex review FTW!

Posted by EveretteScott
@Dad_Is_A_Zombie said:
" Pardon my skepticism that this is a 5 star game. "
A well made game that accomplishes what it set out to do and is damn playable as well?
Your opinion on video games is bad, good sir.
Posted by Mattalorian

My cold, blackened heart is being melted by the irresistible adorableness. WHAT ARE THESE EMOTIONS I FEEL?

Posted by MormonWarrior
@Jayzz: 
Again, there are games that I really appreciate a high difficulty in. I played Mass Effect 2 on Insanity and I'm playing through both Gears of War games on the highest difficulty.
 
Also, Game Informer's reviewer for this game (9.5/10 by the way) seems to feel that the game is not devoid of challenge by any means. If you just want to breeze through it, you can. There are serious rewards for those who master it and avoid getting hit, grab all the gems, etc. To me, this is the evolution of gaming. Games in general did away with extra lives years ago because they realized that was a carry-over from arcades that didn't make games any better or more challenging, just more frustrating. It even seems like a token thing in Mario games nowadays to have the extra life mushrooms. You always end up with 60+ extra lives just lying there. Those games are not easy in any sense either.
Posted by Distrato

Oh man can't wait to buy this. Gotta look for a sale first, I never buy a game at full price no matter how good they are. 

Posted by Carlos1408

Awesome review Alex! Finally an excuse to use my Wii again! :D

Posted by Karmann

Navarro Review !!! Excellent ! This game looks Great ! Too bad I don't have a wii :-S

Posted by Raven_Sword

This looks adorable.
Edited by crusader8463

The screened guys seem to be doing a lot of stuff on GB recently.
 
Anywho. Hopefully in a few years when the Wii fad is over and Wii's are littering the used market there will be enough Nintendo first party games to make it worth owning a Wii. By then they should be going for $50-$60 a pop.

Posted by prototeutonic

A pleasantly delightful review of a pleasantly delightful game! Although from the QL, it wasn't hard to know Alex liked it. Here's to more great Wii games.

Posted by Olivaw
@SuperfluousMoniker said:
" @yukine: I can understand that. But a game doesn't have to be balls to the wall to have challenge. I'm not saying games need to be unforgiving and difficult to be fun, but a game in which you can't die seems pointless to me. It's like cheating at solitaire. "
Sometimes it's about the journey, not the destination.
Posted by LiquidS

Nicely written review. 

Posted by RobotHamster

Great review, I can't wait to play this when I go home for Christmas at my parents house.

Posted by MEATBALL

Sounds like the game should make for a nice change of pace between everything else that's being released. Sold.

Posted by PrivateIronTFU

To say a game needs to be challenging to be fun is ridiculous.

Posted by sdornan

I kept reading the word yarn as yam (Y-A-M). Made for a much weirder, nonsensical review.

Posted by Kodo_Beast
@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. "


http://www.brawlinthefamily.com/images/haters.gif
Posted by LiquidSwords
@crusader8463 said:
" The screened guys seem to be doing a lot of stuff on GB recently.  Anywho. Hopefully in a few years when the Wii fad is over and Wii's are littering the used market there will be enough Nintendo first party games to make it worth owning a Wii. By then they should be going for $50-$60 a pop. "
After you typed this, did you adjust your monocle and take a sip of wine?
Posted by WhiteBrightKnight

This was Alex's reward for doing 30 Days of Hate.
Posted by WiqidBritt

I susupect that if this game were more difficult it wouldn't have recieved such high praise, games like this tend to lose points when the difficulty spikes unexpectedly
Posted by crusader8463
@LiquidSwords: Huh?
Posted by wfolse1

Yeah, very stoked about this.  Will pick up at Best Buy tomorrow.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Eh. I'm not quite sure how this game being incredibly adorable warrants 5 stars, but whatever. It's an opinion.

Edited by artofwar420

Alex! \o/ Yay!
 
This will probs get me to dust off my Wii (well, to games anyways, been using it for Netflix a lot lately).

Edited by Undeadpool
@Kodo_Beast said:

" @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. "


http://www.brawlinthefamily.com/images/haters.gif
"
Bravo, bravo, BRAVO, to you sir. 
 
Lotta people seem to be falling over each other to show how badass they are and declare they're hatred of this game. I dunno, maybe it isn't FOR you guys? Not every game needs to be for everyone.
Online
Posted by Enigma777

Navarro reviewing games? 
 
I feel a warm sensation that is quickly spreading in my pants...

Posted by wisdumcube

I'm surprised that Ryan didn't review this. I was convinced that he was the most hyped about this game.

Posted by MisterSamMan

Kirby has balls of yarns!! AWESOME!!

Posted by owl_of_minerva

The nay-saying comments in this thread are depressingly predictable and lazy "I'm too pro for this game" nonsense. Fuck's sake.

Posted by ThePelinal

ALEX NAVARRO IS BACK IN FULL EFFECT!

Edited by MisterMouse

Wonderful 5 out of 5!!! if I had a Wii I would get this game and play it... 
 
Also I am glad that Alex writes stuff for Giant Bomb, it mixes it up a bit!

Posted by hi_im_rob

Alex and Ryan are so smitten with this game in the Quick Look.  Classic.
 
And this game is the most fucking adorable thing ever.

Posted by Sykosis

Wait is Alex really doing a video game review again?! GO ALEX!!

Posted by Meteora

Dawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww well deserved grade. Makes me want to go out and buy a Wii. :3

Posted by GiHubb

Hey Alex, great to see you doing game reviews, you were always one of the top and most entertaining reviewers on Gamespot. That truck game review will always delight my memory cells! :-)

Posted by Ventilaator

The comments here are like...reverse Demon's Souls or something. "I don't have the time and I'm too good for this EASY game" this time.

Posted by SuperfluousMoniker
@Undeadpool:  It would appear to me that a lot of people are falling over themselves to say how awesome the game is. 
 
I don't think I'm a badass. I only ask, is it still a game if you can't lose?
Posted by Jost1
@Dad_Is_A_Zombie said:
" Pardon my skepticism that this is a 5 star game. "
Pardon NOT granted.
Posted by Mayu_Zane
@owl_of_minerva said:
" The nay-saying comments in this thread are depressingly predictable and lazy "I'm too pro for this game" nonsense. Fuck's sake. "
Seriously, that's kinda bumming me out too.
Edited by Death_Burnout

 

@crusader8463:

justifiably so, video games were their original wheelhouse
 

@GiHubb

said:

" Hey Alex, great to see you doing game reviews, you were always one of the top and most entertaining reviewers on Gamespot. That truck game review will always delight my memory cells! :-) "

This, though i feel Big Rigs deserves its proper name...wait what am i saying?
 
@owl_of_minerva said:

" The nay-saying comments in this thread are depressingly predictable and lazy "I'm too pro for this game" nonsense. Fuck's sake. "

Yeah this is annoying.
Posted by Jimbo
@EveretteScott
@Dad_Is_A_Zombie said:
" Pardon my skepticism that this is a 5 star game. "
A well made game that accomplishes what it set out to do and is damn playable as well?
Your opinion on video games is bad, good sir.
Not really. Accomplishing what you set out to do isn't all that impressive if you were aiming low enough in the first place. They set out to make a cute, circa 1995 sidescrolling platformer and that seems to be what they ended up with. This kinda just feels like a QL joke carried over into a full review.
Posted by MeatXbeatsXman
@SuperfluousMoniker: Well, you do lose a crapload of gems when you get hit. I say that still makes it a game; there's a logical consequence for making a mistake.
Posted by Cold_Wolven

I should definitely consider buying this game after after reading this review, good to see Kirby going down a different path then the typical suck everything up and steal powers path that was starting to bore me with Kirby games. Good to see Alex reviewing a game again, is this a one time thing or will we see more?