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 AuthenticM

Man this game looks so good. And Cute.

Online
Posted by ape_dosmil

This isn't completely out of left field. This game has been really well reviewed universally and was extremely well received at E3. Maybe the naysayers should try playing it before forming conclusions.

@Set said:

" So many butthurt challengefags complaining about Kirby, of all games. "
This isn't /b/. I know using 'fag' as a catch all suffix is meant to be somewhat subversive/ironic/whatever, but not everyone gets that outside of 4chan. It kind of just looks like straight forward homophobia.
Posted by MaddProdigy

So yeah, for someone who doesn't go dawww when they look at this game? Definitely a questionable review.

Edited by Addfwyn

I'm sold, done and done.  Games like this or Little Big Planet give me so much hope in the future of the industry, as being creative, interesting, and FUN titles that don't have to be insanely hard or a super gritty shooter to be successful.  Don't get me wrong, I like hard games like Demon's Souls too, but I don't enjoy them so much as a game like this, which just has so much style and creativity it is mind blowing.  Give me a LBP, Kirby's Epic Yarn, or such any day of the week.
Posted by YukoAsho

There are several thoughts going through my mind, most of them conflicting.
 
Part of me is cynical as all hell and convinced that Nintendo, as usual, is getting a free pass.
 
Another part of me wonders why a member of Screened is reviewing a game.  Yeah, Alex is one of the many former Gamespotters who jumped ship in the wake of Gerstmann-gate, but it's been a good long while and I can't help but think that he's reviewing this like he would a movie, not being critical enough about the apparent failings of the game as a game (there being no real motivation to play well other than gem collecting)
 
Last part of me is convinced that this crazy cute game would be absolutely ideal for easing especially young kids into games.  As a game, it'll quickly be overshadowed by NSMB and SMG 1 and 2, but as an overall entertainment package, it seems ideal for those who like warm fuzzy feelings, and maybe that's enough.

Posted by ApolloBob

I really wish a little more was said about the music in this game.  Some of the pieces sound very unconventional for a video game, but are quite stellar.
 
Also I'd like to now see Giant Bomb go about a month posting reviews without saying who is the specific reviewer, since it would make some of you poop your little drawers so much.

Posted by ptys

God damnit I want Nintendo to release another console!

Edited by rts375

I'm glad Alex is (kind of) working at Giant Bomb now. All the best reviewers from Gamespot with the exception of Gregg Kasavin are now here. Whiskey Media ftw.

Posted by MagusMaleficus
 
Posted by MisfitToy
@rts375 said:
" I'm glad Alex is (kind of) working at Giant Bomb now. All the best reviewers from Gamespot with the exception of Gregg Kasavin are now here. Whiskey Media ftw. "
Agreed.  Kasavin was very good and everyone else is here.  Win.
Posted by Belmont_Shadow

God damn stupid Nintendo of Europe. Why is this game coming out in 2011? What idiots decided this ugh.

Posted by TheCheese33
@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. "
Dear God, you have no brain matter! The Wii is a legitimate system with legitimate games.  Every game doesn't have to feature dudes shooting each other in the face or constantly dropping F-bombs in order to be good. In fact, you're most likely a kid if you think like that. How old are you, twelve?
Posted by Iruga

could two grown men be any more gooey over something so adorable *hug*

Posted by WickedCobra03

Yay!  Alex is reviewing games again.  I kind of missed his reviews since when was it, 2007ish at Gamespot?  Super Mario Galaxy being his last?  I loved the quick look and will end up picking it up sometime this week.

Posted by zombie2011

This will be the first Wii game i buy in over 2 years.

Posted by Godlyawesomeguy

I would buy this instantly if I had a wii.

Posted by sheeeeeeep

Thinking about grabbing this for me and my spouse.  The graphics are absolutely charming!

Posted by Tornac

I agree 100%. My sister has special needs and can only play simple games like New SUper Mario Bros. I gave this to her for Christmas and we play the game together. She absolutely loves it, and so do I. It's one of the most creative games I've ever played, but because its so friendly to those not skilled at making precise jumps, I can play games with an important person in my life who previously could only sit and watch.