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...
 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!
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...
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 CommentsRefresh
Avatar image for alistercat
Posted By AlisterCat
@Jimbo said:
" @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. "
Not just that. They set out to make something incredibly cute, easily playable for all ages and compelling. The graphics alone deserve a lot of credit because it is so unique and that idea was fully realised. It looks, for lack of a better word, perfect for the effect they were trying to capture. It wasn't a joke. Are you that ignorant to the possibility that just maybe they were genuine in their enjoyment? I could feel it too. If you didn't get that then just maybe this game isn't for you. Doesn't mean it doesn't deserve a good review.
Avatar image for liv
Posted By Liv

Give it to me baby (the game, that is, which I want given to me).

Avatar image for deadmonkeys
Edited By DeadMonkeys

Good to see Alex reviewing electronic video entertainment cartridges again.
 
I'll probably rent this game, go into endorphin withdrawl once I return it, and end up buying it to keep myself from slipping into depression.
 
Wait. That's terrible.

Avatar image for puuhiss
Posted By puuhiss

THAT WAS A GODDAMN YARN MONKEY!

Avatar image for ntm
Edited By NTM

Dang, I've been missing out on so many Nintendo games that have been coming out for the past couple of years... The Wii just collects dust in the living room. I'm going to have to bring it in the room when Goldeneye comes out. I've been playing so much PS3, 360, and PC.
Avatar image for lacke
Posted By lacke

No offense to Alex but I'm disappointed that Ryan didn't review this. I don't know Alex Navarro that well, except for the few appearances he has made on the GB site so I can't really relate to his score. 5 stars might as well has been 1 star.

Avatar image for hairydutchman
Posted By Hairydutchman

Wow, the developers are actually called Good Feel? That's great :D

Avatar image for tormasturba
Posted By TorMasturba
@lacke said:
" No offense to Alex but I'm disappointed that Ryan didn't review this. I don't know Alex Navarro that well, except for the few appearances he has made on the GB site so I can't really relate to his score. 5 stars might as well has been 1 star. "
Like you actually really know any of the other reviewers. 
 
And most good reviews are objective, as is this one, so what does it matter who does the review as long as it's a review that's been done well and with balance of fairness.
Avatar image for jacksukeru
Posted By JackSukeru

I can't wait to play this! Actually, I probably will wait to play it until I find someone to Co-op with. It really seems like the perfect Co-op game for someone like me who doesn't know a lot of skilled players. 
 
There's nothing worse in a two player game than having the other person die five minutes into the level and playing the rest yourself. NSMBW had this issue when you got more players together after playing in single player and getting "73" lives. Really wish you could just transfer lives between characters in that game.
 
Man, good on Nintendo though for making me care about Kirby again.

Online
Avatar image for sideburn
Posted By Sideburn
@lacke: Check out the Quick Look - I think it's pretty likely Ryan would have rated this highly too.
Avatar image for lacke
Posted By lacke
@Sideburn: I have. He might have or he might not. I'm not saying this game isn't good or that Ryan wouldn't have given it a high score. Just saying Ryan's opinion weigh a lot more than Alex's for me (more than any staffer actually). Since this is a game I'm actually curious about I was disappointed to see that he didn't review because I thought that he would, since he did the QL.
Avatar image for floodiastus
Posted By floodiastus
@lacke said:
" No offense to Alex but I'm disappointed that Ryan didn't review this. I don't know Alex Navarro that well, except for the few appearances he has made on the GB site so I can't really relate to his score. 5 stars might as well has been 1 star. "
Most of us know him from gamespot though
Avatar image for pokalapoketl
Posted By Pokalapoketl

Damn you NOE! DAMN YOU!!!

Avatar image for fourwude
Posted By FourWude

KIRBY >>>>>>>>>>> MEDAL OF HONOR.


Avatar image for zerocast
Posted By ZeroCast
@Jimbo said:
" @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. "
A game that is cute, fun, enjoyable and was able to impress a collective group of adult reviewers is a game that seems to have achieved what it was aiming for. Whether you like it or not is a completely different story.
Avatar image for tourgen
Posted By tourgen
@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 get where you're coming from and it's why I probably won't play this game either.  This game is different though, it's not a game that you "beat".  It's a game that you explore and have fun checking out the scenery.
 
I don't think that's necessarily a mark against it.  It's not  what I'm looking for right now in a platformer though.
Avatar image for gbrading
Edited By gbrading

Excellent review Alex! Wonderful to see more game reviews from you again. I now definitely want this game. Disappointed it isn't coming out in Europe until 2011 though. :(
Avatar image for lucyglitter
Edited By LucyGlitter
@TorMasturba said:

" @lacke said:

" No offense to Alex but I'm disappointed that Ryan didn't review this. I don't know Alex Navarro that well, except for the few appearances he has made on the GB site so I can't really relate to his score. 5 stars might as well has been 1 star. "
Like you actually really know any of the other reviewers.  And most good reviews are objective, as is this one, so what does it matter who does the review as long as it's a review that's been done well and with balance of fairness. "
This. 
 
It's completely nonsensical.
Avatar image for kaiunderneath
Posted By KaiUnderneath

FUCK YOU NINTENDO!!! 
I WANT IT!!! I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!!! 
RELEASE IT IN THE UK!!! 
 
Why do Nintendo like to torture us so?! 
It was the same with Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Paper Mario. 
I want to buy a Wii game Nintendo! Sell it to me!

Avatar image for supersambo
Posted By SuperSambo
@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 thought the idea of playing games was to have fun, not to feel good about yourself...
Avatar image for vorbis
Posted By Vorbis

Not for me, but looks good all the same. Nice review.

Avatar image for charlessurge
Posted By CharlesSurge

Thanks for the great review, Alex.

Avatar image for cirdain
Posted By Cirdain
@lacke said:

" No offense to Alex but I'm disappointed that Ryan didn't review this. I don't know Alex Navarro that well, except for the few appearances he has made on the GB site so I can't really relate to his score. 5 stars might as well has been 1 star. "

  
Avatar image for rcath
Posted By rcath

Great Review Alex, sounds like a good game. Glad I have a Wii.

Avatar image for issun187
Posted By issun187

Come on, Nintendo, do we really have to wait till 2011 to play this gem in Europe? :C
Avatar image for jimbo
Posted By Jimbo
@ZeroCast: I said they achieved what they were aiming for.  That in itself doesn't mean anything.  I'm suggesting that handing out 5 stars so easily to games like this is like awarding a Michelin star to a restaurant for serving really good candy floss.  Really good candy floss is still only candy floss. 
 
Do you believe this game will be given any consideration at all for GOTY?  Why not if it's such a good game?  Surely there ought to be some degree of comparability between 5 star games, otherwise the review scale simply isn't granular enough.
Avatar image for machofantastico
Posted By MachoFantastico

Is there a European release date for this game? 
 
Looks like fun though, the Quick Look was great. 

Avatar image for rcath
Posted By rcath
@Cirdain:  what are you trying to say?
Avatar image for owl_of_minerva
Posted By owl_of_minerva
@Jimbo:  The only valid comparison is between games of the same (or roughly the same) genre, in any case. For platformers this year, SMG 2 is a lock for best of its type, no game will compare. As for GB's review system, well, granularity isn't a factor.
Avatar image for manlybeast
Posted By ManlyBeast

Good review.

Avatar image for ht101
Posted By HT101

This game is way too cute for it's own good.  I probably would not play it myself but it sure tapped into my cute loving center of my brain.

Avatar image for pop
Posted By Pop

I think the people that are mad because of the 5 stars are probably the same people that are mad that halo reach got 4 stars. If you feel mad play this game and you will be really happy.

Avatar image for geralt
Posted By Geralt

Rorie and Norm could use a little bit of this game, they seem weirdly cranky lately :1

Avatar image for ryno9881
Posted By RYNO9881

Great review Alex.

Avatar image for newslowsad
Posted By newslowsad

Buying today.

Avatar image for benjaebe
Posted By benjaebe

Happy to see Alex get a review up - game looks great, will definitely give it a purchase.

Avatar image for dad_is_a_zombie
Edited By Dad_Is_A_Zombie
@EveretteScott said:

" @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. "
Yikes! I thought Halo fanboys were sensitive! Hell, I didn't even know there was such a thing as Kirby fanboys until now. Well, to each his own. Enjoy the game.
Avatar image for skillface
Posted By Skillface
@Pop said:
" I think the people that are mad because of the 5 stars are probably the same people that are mad that halo reach got 4 stars. If you feel mad play this game and you will be really happy. "
This.
Avatar image for foggen
Posted By Foggen

It's starting to seem like Screened is just a fig leaf for getting Alex and Matt in on Giant Bomb, and I'm totally OK with that.

Avatar image for metalbaofu
Posted By MetalBaofu
@Jimbo said:
" @ZeroCast: I said they achieved what they were aiming for.  That in itself doesn't mean anything.  I'm suggesting that handing out 5 stars so easily to games like this is like awarding a Michelin star to a restaurant for serving really good candy floss.  Really good candy floss is still only candy floss.   Do you believe this game will be given any consideration at all for GOTY?  Why not if it's such a good game?  Surely there ought to be some degree of comparability between 5 star games, otherwise the review scale simply isn't granular enough. "

A game deserves 5 stars to me if it is enjoyable enough, good controls, isn't broken by glitches, etc.   This, or any other game, doesn't deserve a lower score just because it's not as difficult as other 5-star games, or because the graphics aren't as good as other 5-star games.  Doesn't matter if it is a Barbie game, Halo game, or some gore-fest.....A 5-star game is a 5-star game.
Avatar image for kuribosshoe
Posted By KuribosShoe
@Jimbo: it'll be in consideration for wii game of the year just about everywhere.
Avatar image for drstrawberry
Posted By drstrawberry

This looks too perfect
Avatar image for aaron_g
Posted By Aaron_G

I really want this and this review only helps my case.

Avatar image for jayzilla
Posted By Jayzilla
@Jimbo: They did a fantastic job making the type of game they wanted to make, and Alex reviewed it impartially for that reason. What's the problem you have with his opinion? Also, it's a video game web site lolz, not Zagat's.
Avatar image for lawlerballer
Posted By lawlerballer

from what i've played so far it's a really good game for sure, but it's definitely targeted towards younger children

Avatar image for joeltgm
Posted By JoelTGM

After seeing the quick look I kind of wish I could play it.

Avatar image for oliveshark
Posted By oliveshark
@Dad_Is_A_Zombie: This is not a 5 star game, this is a 5 star platformer intended for children who plays the nintendo wii. It is not rated alongside the entire library of games on the site, only the ones that fit its category.
Avatar image for m2cks
Posted By m2cks
@Cold_Wolven:  Well, he also reviewed Risk: Factions, so he'll probably do some more guest reviews in the future.
Avatar image for stealthraptor
Posted By StealthRaptor

I really appreciate you saving some of these posts for the weekend!

Avatar image for olivaw
Posted By Olivaw
@LucyGlitter said:
" @TorMasturba said:

" @lacke said:

" No offense to Alex but I'm disappointed that Ryan didn't review this. I don't know Alex Navarro that well, except for the few appearances he has made on the GB site so I can't really relate to his score. 5 stars might as well has been 1 star. "
Like you actually really know any of the other reviewers.  And most good reviews are objective, as is this one, so what does it matter who does the review as long as it's a review that's been done well and with balance of fairness. "
This.  It's completely nonsensical. "
Oh come on, dudes.
 
It's like getting to know a film critic. You read enough of his reviews and you start to understand his tastes in relation to yours, so when he gives a film two thumbs up you know whether or not it's a film you'd want to see.
 
This is not a complicated concept.