Epic cuteness

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Kirby’s new adventure is a fabric-filled delight

Kirby's Epic Yarn
Nintendo

Wii

Matthew Blackwell
Technical Coordinator

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is the follow-up to a long-running series of beloved games, dating back to 1992’s Kirby’s Dream Land on the Nintendo Gameboy. The game is a complete stylistic change-up from everything else in the Kirby series. While playing the game, I couldn’t help but feel like the new stylistic approach that they’ve crafted is almost a reproach to the idea of realism in gaming.

You say that you want realism? Well, Kirby’s Epic Yarn has that in abundance, sort of. You see, the entire game world is made out of yarn, felt, denim, and many other kinds of fabric. The game could be called “photorealistic” in the sense that the backgrounds and characters all look and behave like the real-life fabrics they are composed of.   

Of course, claiming that Kirby’s Epic Yarn is in any way realistic is specious at best – this is a delightfully absurd game. From the between-chapter storybook sequences, to the vaguely unsettling way that Kirby rips his foes apart, and the surreal transformations that take place – Kirby and his companion Prince Fluff can turn into everything from dolphins to fire trucks – all add up to create an interesting aesthetic experience that transcends its apparently childish nature.

That’s not to say there isn’t anything for an adult to enjoy – there most certainly is. This is especially true if you’re an adult who can still give in to the powers of sheer overwhelming delight, but the game’s soft and fuzzy nature is definitely intended for kids.

Unlike a lot of 2D platformers on the Wii, Kirby’s Epic Yarn has a nice, leisurely pace to the action that some might complain is too easy or even facile. Despite the fact that it’s impossible to die in a level, the game has an interesting approach to challenge and difficulty. If the player is hit by an enemy, they lose all their beads – the in-game currency, like Sonic’s rings – and then the player must make a mad dash to retrieve all their lost beads. At the end of the level, you’ll be awarded either a bronze, silver, or gold medal, depending on how many beads you’ve collected. If you obtain enough gold medals in a world, then you unlock two bonus levels for that world. For a completionist, this makes playing to the best of your abilities rewarding and essential.

As is the case with pretty well every platformer released after New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Kirby’s Epic Yarn includes a two-player cooperative mode. I played through the entire game with my girlfriend, and this is kind of game that is more delightful and fun to play with more people in the room. A lot of “awwws” were said while playing, mostly by me.

Underneath its unbelievable exterior, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a straight-laced platformer – following closely in the tradition of its predecessors. That’s not to say that there aren’t amazing things done in this game that wouldn’t have been possible in the Gameboy original – there are. But the gameplay mechanics in Kirby’s Epic Yarn are so streamlined that the game feels simpler than it actually is. It’s the perfect symbiosis of aesthetics, control, and gameplay that makes Kirby’s Epic Yarn such a delight to play.

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