By Spencer . October 15, 2010 . 3:22pm
Before I unwrapped Kirby’s Epic Yarn someone else saw the game on my desk. "Who’s this pink guy," she said pointing at the cover. She likes cute things, but doesn’t really play games other than DJ Max Portable. "Oh, that’s Kirby," I said, "He’s one of Nintendo’s characters and in this game he’s made of yarn." Curious about what Kirby was, but more drawn to the stringy characters on the cover, she decided to play Kirby’s Epic Yarn with me.
The art style is striking. Patch Land, the yarn-realized world Kirby gets sucked into after eating a textile metamato, gives this platformer a unique feel from the second you turn the game on. While Kirby can’t eat enemies in Kirby’s Epic Yarn, he can still use them as weapons. Developer Good-Feel gave Kirby has a yarn whip to unravel enemies. Or, if you hold down the 1 button, Kirby can roll them up into a yarn ball, which you can toss at other enemies. It’s sort of like eating an enemy and spitting out a star, but… with a whip and yarn balls. Some enemies turn into special yarn balls like flash-yarn (a yarn ball that acts like flashlight) or a spread shot (look for bees).
Kirby’s yarn whip is also handy during cooperative play because you can help a person playing Prince Fluff with jumps. You can grab Prince Fluff (or vice-versa) in mid-air and safely bring him to a platform. Kirby’s Epic Yarn doesn’t have extremely difficult gaps to cross, but I played through the first three areas of Patch Land with someone who never completed World 1 of Super Mario Bros. on her own. The yarn whip rescues and using Kirby as a makeshift moving platform (you can even stand on Kirby when he turns into parachute) made Kirby’s Epic Yarn, in her words, "comfortable to play." Getting treasures, furniture you use to decorate Kirby’s apartment, is also easier in co-op since you can toss each other to patchwork treasure chests.
The other reason why Kirby’s Epic Yarn is more accessible is it’s impossible to die.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn doesn’t have a game over screen. Get hit and you drop beads in the way Sonic the Hedgehog loses rings. They explode onto the screen and you have a few seconds to pick up ruby shapes and stars before they flicker away. Unlike Sonic, it’s possible to recover all of your dropped beads. Even if you miss a jump you won’t lose a life or have to restart a stage. Angie, an angel-like yarn creature, picks up Kirby or Prince Fluff out of the pit and carries him to safe ground. You permanently lose some beads in the process since they fall into the abyss, but that’s a minor penalty for someone who just wants to explore Yarn Land. Angie can even carry one player to the other in cooperative mode. All you have to do is press A to call her.
So, where’s the challenge you say?
1.) It’s in the boss levels. Well, not defeating the bosses, but beating while keeping your bead count high. That means dodging attacks and learning patterns. Win with enough beads and you’ll earn a secret area patch that unlocks extra levels. I went back and unlocked these in single player mode. Usually, optional levels have gimmicks that let players use Kirby’s transformations for a longer time. Within levels, transformations are like a platforming break. You might turn into an off-roader for a few minutes after yanking a transform patch, but one of the unlocked levels is an entire stage where Kirby (and Prince Fluff) are trucks.
Robo-Kirby or as the game calls him, Tankbot, is one of the transformations. This mode uses a neat co-op control scheme where player two moves Tankbot and fires missiles while player one controls Tankbot’s arms to punch enemies and knock obstacles out of the way. There’s a train transformation too where players take turns drawing train tracks by pointing with the remote for the Kirby Fluff express to drive on. While Tankbot is a lot of fun with two players, the train areas can be frustrating.
2.) Back in Quilty Court, Kirby’s landlord gives you decoration requests. You have to furnish rooms with treasures found in levels to attract tenants. Yarn pal neighbors also give Kirby challenges like time attack mini-stages where you have to lasso hidden friends and bead collecting runs.
Most importantly, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a "good feel" game. It’s relaxing rather than adrenaline pumping through out the eight hours it takes to defeat Yin-Yarn. I mean, half of the game for my other half was decorating Kirby’s apartment with the right furniture (there’s a throne, a sun clock, and sushi on a camel) and wallpaper.