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 trophyhunter

I want alex on giantbomb full time

Posted by brocool

Great review.

Posted by Supermarius
@oliveshark said:
" @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. "
no. This is a fully legitimate 5-star game. Not every game has to be a gory manifestation of the male id.
Posted by Daniel_Newton

I've only played a small portion of this game, and I already agree with everything you've written Alex. This game deserves five stars, those who can't see why need glasses. 
 
Also - IT'S SO FUCKING ADORABLE! 
 
@Sil3n7 said:

" Shit got unraveled. "
I c wat u did thar.
Posted by ZeekDaGeek
@Olivaw said:
" @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. "
And what, you guys don't want to ever be exposed to new points of views and new reviewers? You realize there is only so many games that one person can review. They need to share the load among other people, espcially during a fall release season when I'm sure there are other games they are reviewing.
 
Plus the fact that there are words attached to the 5 star review that you can base the opinion on. Did you just jump to "MEHHHH NOT RYAN" before reading any of it?
Edited by Milkman

Hey, guys! Let's all argue about review scores! That's always fun and productive!

Online
Posted by demontium

Yeah alex! good review.

Posted by DiGiTaL_SiN

alex.

Posted by rhodric

shit son, it's alex!

Posted by Set

So many butthurt challengefags complaining about Kirby, of all games.

Posted by Bloodgraiv3
@oliveshark: 
 
hahahahah ohh how wrong you are. 
If anything this game stands above and beyond anything released this year.
Posted by RE_Player1
@StealthRaptor said:
" I really appreciate you saving some of these posts for the weekend! "
Me too. I usually come on the weekend for the forums but was pleasantly surprised seeing this review.  
 
Alex has really got me excited for this game and it will be my first Wii purchase since No More Heroes 2. 
Posted by Kombat
@oliveshark said:
" @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. "
Really? You're going to spew out your biased fanboy remarks regarding the Nintendo Wii instead of giving any real legitimate reason as to why this game doesn't deserve the critical recognition it has garnered? Because a game has a cutesy visual aesthetic and doesn't toss about curse words and intestinal tracks, it's intended only for children? People like you are what make the gaming fanbase look to be a host of juvenile chimps flinging fecal matter at one another.
Posted by Cornman89

DAWWWWWW

Posted by Jimbo
@Jayzilla said:
" @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. "
I have no problem with Alex's opinion - as a matter of fact I think he has nice eyes and a dreamy smile.  It's more about this prevalent attitude that says achieving what they (the game developer) set out to achieve is all that matters.  This isn't high school and that isn't all that matters.  All this does is reward developers for aiming low and punish them for aiming high.  
 
Contrast it with how games are judged at GOTY (ie. properly), where all that matters is what a game actually achieved, and their initial intentions become irrelevant.  Which is why this game will be absolutely nowhere come GOTY.  Being a lightweight style-over-substance 2D platformer will literally prevent this from even being considered for GOTY, no matter how good an example of the genre it is.  Given that it will be dismissed so readily at the end of the year, how does it deserve to be scored in that kind of company in the first place?  Because it's a Wii game?  Because they aimed sufficiently low?  I guess I still just think that the highest score you can possibly award a game should probably mean a bit more than it currently does.
Posted by Minus

this is easily goty for me, so fun and good, and just so enjoyable

Posted by nan0fear

Anything a little kid plays after this game is gonna shatter their precious innocence.  ":(

Posted by BBQBram

I guess Alex just started playing right after the quick look, finished it in a day and wrote this in one dopamine-induced draft.

Online
Posted by Landon
@oliveshark said:
" @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. "
I checked the site FAQ, and nowhere did I find another set of stars aimed at platformers for children who play the Nintendo Wii.
Posted by Double0hFor

PAPER MARIO WANNABE!

Posted by ThePickle

ITSSOCUTEOMYGOD 

Posted by Alex
@Jimbo: 
 
This is one of my favorite games of the year so far. No caveats. I'm not dismissing it as far as my personal GOTY contenders go.
Staff
Posted by Aeterna
@BBQBram said:
" I guess Alex just started playing right after the quick look, finished it in a day and wrote this in one dopamine-induced draft. "
They probably recorded the quick look a while ago instead, giving him time. ;)
Posted by stinky
@Jimbo said:
" @Jayzilla said:
" @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. "
I have no problem with Alex's opinion - as a matter of fact I think he has nice eyes and a dreamy smile.  It's more about this prevalent attitude that says achieving what they (the game developer) set out to achieve is all that matters.  This isn't high school and that isn't all that matters.  All this does is reward developers for aiming low and punish them for aiming high.  
 
Contrast it with how games are judged at GOTY (ie. properly), where all that matters is what a game actually achieved, and their initial intentions become irrelevant.  Which is why this game will be absolutely nowhere come GOTY.  Being a lightweight style-over-substance 2D platformer will literally prevent this from even being considered for GOTY, no matter how good an example of the genre it is.  Given that it will be dismissed so readily at the end of the year, how does it deserve to be scored in that kind of company in the first place?  Because it's a Wii game?  Because they aimed sufficiently low?  I guess I still just think that the highest score you can possibly award a game should probably mean a bit more than it currently does. "
can you cry anymore about how butt hurt you are that you don't like this game?
Posted by Jimbo
@alex said:
" @Jimbo:   This is one of my favorite games of the year so far. No caveats. I'm not dismissing it as far as my personal GOTY contenders go. "
Huh.  Ok then, in that case you have my apologies for assuming otherwise.  I had it pegged as another Punch-Out.
Posted by PrivateIronTFU
@Jimbo said:
" @Jayzilla said:
" @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. "
I have no problem with Alex's opinion - as a matter of fact I think he has nice eyes and a dreamy smile.  It's more about this prevalent attitude that says achieving what they (the game developer) set out to achieve is all that matters.  This isn't high school and that isn't all that matters.  All this does is reward developers for aiming low and punish them for aiming high.  
 
Contrast it with how games are judged at GOTY (ie. properly), where all that matters is what a game actually achieved, and their initial intentions become irrelevant.  Which is why this game will be absolutely nowhere come GOTY.  Being a lightweight style-over-substance 2D platformer will literally prevent this from even being considered for GOTY, no matter how good an example of the genre it is.  Given that it will be dismissed so readily at the end of the year, how does it deserve to be scored in that kind of company in the first place?  Because it's a Wii game?  Because they aimed sufficiently low?  I guess I still just think that the highest score you can possibly award a game should probably mean a bit more than it currently does. "
Wow. You've thought way too fucking long and hard about a Kirby review. And you still haven't explained your reasoning for suggesting the developers 'aimed low'. 
Posted by 8bitman

Great to see Alexis Alexander reviewing games at GB, I think he could add something new.

Posted by lordofultima
@Jimbo: 3D Dot Game Heroes will probably be my game of the year. It's basically a Zelda 1 clone. But it's the best time I've had playing a game all year long. DEEAALLL with it.
Posted by Jimbo
@lordofultima said:
" @Jimbo: 3D Dot Game Heroes will probably be my game of the year..."

 IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR GAME (of the year) IS!
Posted by Keen_12

Very well written review. 
I've been having trouble articulating why this game is so damn enjoyable despite its simplicity and I feel like you nailed it, gg Alex Navarro. Also, fucking bomb ass soundtrack!!

Posted by garnsr

I wish there were more games that you can just play, instead of having to fight.  It's nice just being able to stroll through a game sometimes, enjoying the scenery and seeing what the game has going on.  Flower was great because you can just enjoy your time in the game, without having to worry about what you need to do.   Why should all games be challenges?  I'd like more that just allow you to be in a different world than the real one.

Posted by Hailinel

The amount of hardcore rage against this game is both depressing and hysterical.

Posted by RagingLion
@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 enjoying watching sunsets, playing with kittens and exploring new worlds.  I'm fine with games being 'experience' rather than 'challenge', but I understand your POV.  People do look for different things out of their games and it's great that they can offer this.
 
(Also, it sounds like this game offers challenge with finding all of its beads, i.e. there's challenge if you want it but not if you don't.  That particular challenge might not be appealing to all 'challenge gamers', though.
Posted by Nettacki

Seriously, this game's so cute it tastes like diabetes.

Posted by Nettacki
@PrivateIronTFU: 
a few pages back he said something about how the devs "aimed for a cute, circa 1995 platformer."
Posted by rmills87

Why do I feel like this game is going to fucking rock?  I'm getting this as soon as I get a chance!

Posted by wrathofconn
@SuperfluousMoniker: People really seemed to like that 2008 Prince of Persia game, where you couldn't die and didn't even lose anything for doing things that resembled dying. And is losing five minutes of progress to reset at a checkpoint five hundred times in a row really more challenging than just getting rid of that part of the design? Because that is how many games are structured these days.
Posted by danimal_furry

Sweeeeeeeeeeeet.
Posted by BionicMonster
@wrathofconn said:
" @SuperfluousMoniker: People really seemed to like that 2008 Prince of Persia game, where you couldn't die and didn't even lose anything for doing things that resembled dying. And is losing five minutes of progress to reset at a checkpoint five hundred times in a row really more challenging than just getting rid of that part of the design? Because that is how many games are structured these days. "
Annoyance should never be a facet of game design.
Posted by kollay
@8bitman said:

" Great to see Alexis Alexander reviewing games at GB, I think he could add something new. "

  
  
Skip to 1:43.
Posted by snipeshow_17

ya alex! im so happy!
Posted by snipeshow_17
@Hailinel:
agreed
Posted by Turambar
@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. "
I don't know, I don't exactly feel that the aesthetic design of the game was oh so easy to pull off.  The novelty of the world and how you interact with it coupled with the amazing experience that is a product of music, sound effect, emote, and art style makes Epic Yarn's accomplishment far greater than most games.
Posted by iAmJohn
@Jimbo said:
" I have no problem with Alex's opinion - as a matter of fact I think he has nice eyes and a dreamy smile.  It's more about this prevalent attitude that says achieving what they (the game developer) set out to achieve is all that matters.  This isn't high school and that isn't all that matters.  All this does is reward developers for aiming low and punish them for aiming high.  
 
Contrast it with how games are judged at GOTY (ie. properly), where all that matters is what a game actually achieved, and their initial intentions become irrelevant.  Which is why this game will be absolutely nowhere come GOTY.  Being a lightweight style-over-substance 2D platformer will literally prevent this from even being considered for GOTY, no matter how good an example of the genre it is.  Given that it will be dismissed so readily at the end of the year, how does it deserve to be scored in that kind of company in the first place?  Because it's a Wii game?  Because they aimed sufficiently low?  I guess I still just think that the highest score you can possibly award a game should probably mean a bit more than it currently does. "
Uh... but isn't Alex's point that what they achieved with this game is a fantastic, incredibly memorable and fun experience that anyone with a Wii shouldn't hesitate to play? :S
Posted by SleepyDoughnut
@kollay said:

" @8bitman said:

" Great to see Alexis Alexander reviewing games at GB, I think he could add something new. "

  
   Skip to 1:43. "
This is probably my favorite gamespot video.
 
@Hailinel said:
" The amount of hardcore rage against this game is both depressing and hysterical. "
Agreed. Especially when it seems like most of the people haven't played through the game yet.
Posted by EveretteScott
@Dad_Is_A_Zombie said:
" @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. "
I have never played a Kirby game since I was younger. I'm far from a fanboy.
Posted by mrcool11

Having trouble deciding whether "Painfully Pleasing" shall be the name of my indie rock group or my upcoming pornagraphic reboot of Romeo and Juliet.
Posted by Supermarius
@iAmJohn said:
" @Jimbo said:
" I have no problem with Alex's opinion - as a matter of fact I think he has nice eyes and a dreamy smile.  It's more about this prevalent attitude that says achieving what they (the game developer) set out to achieve is all that matters.  This isn't high school and that isn't all that matters.  All this does is reward developers for aiming low and punish them for aiming high.  
 
Contrast it with how games are judged at GOTY (ie. properly), where all that matters is what a game actually achieved, and their initial intentions become irrelevant.  Which is why this game will be absolutely nowhere come GOTY.  Being a lightweight style-over-substance 2D platformer will literally prevent this from even being considered for GOTY, no matter how good an example of the genre it is.  Given that it will be dismissed so readily at the end of the year, how does it deserve to be scored in that kind of company in the first place?  Because it's a Wii game?  Because they aimed sufficiently low?  I guess I still just think that the highest score you can possibly award a game should probably mean a bit more than it currently does. "
Uh... but isn't Alex's point that what they achieved with this game is a fantastic, incredibly memorable and fun experience that anyone with a Wii shouldn't hesitate to play? :S "

It's weird how many people bizarrely think that an artificially higher level of difficulty makes a game better. This game has amazing art direction, music, level design and is a pleasure to play. So it can't be a GOTY contender because it doesn't kick you in the nuts? Not everyone is a masochist or feels that they have to prove their prowess constantly through videogame skill. Some normal people just want to have fun.   It's also really strange to imply that difficulty is a requirement for a game to be critically lauded. Games like Flower or portal illustrate that death does not have to figure heavily into a game for it to be considered good.
Posted by TwoOneFive

amazing. can't believe it's that good!  
 
the visuals alone and the creative force behind this game was enough to convince me that the developers were very smart and ambitious and determined. 

Posted by Jinto

Alex reviews games now?