In total, there have been ten Kirby games to date across the multitude of Nintendo platforms. Now while I would argue that all of them have their little quirks that make them solid titles, there are really only two that stick out in my mind as truly great additions to the Kirby series. The first one of these is the 1996 SNES classic, Kirby Super Star, which is pound for pound one of the best platformers ever to grace gamers these last 25 years since the birth of Mario. (Want more Kirby Super Star? Be sure to read my previous article on the game here.)
However, after a string of middle of the road entries to the series, Kirby has once again risen to the occasion with his latest work on the Wii, Kirby’s Epic Yarn. With a current average of 91/100 on Metacritic, Epic Yarn has already risen to become the best reviewed Kirby games of all time—and with good reason. After playing the game for myself these past 2 weeks (to 100% completion, no less), I am here to give you the lowdown on Kirby and his yarn, and why every Wii owner must take the time to play this game. Enjoy.
Review: Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Produced by long time Kirby makers HAL Laboratory and new member to the scene, Good-Feel, Kirby’s Epic Yarn wasn’t officially announced to consumers until this year’s E3 Expo, where it’s prominent appearance at Nintendo’s Keynote Press Conference ultimately led to multiple E3 awards including “Game of the Show” by GameSpot and “Best Graphics” by GameTrailers. But now that it is released, why can finally answer the question of why it got all that praise back in June. Of course, I am talking about its beautiful graphical setting.
Yes, the graphics do matter.
If you are a long time fan of Kirby, I’m sure you have a pretty good idea about how these games are supposed to look. Well, you might want to ignore that idea and throw it out the window, because Epic Yarn doesn’t have its namesake for nothing. Every single object in this game is made out of yarn, from the characters and the buildings all the way down to simple blue yarn for the water. From an art perspective, there is no question that this a beautiful game. What makes it more impressive is the fact this is all on Wii hardware, which we all know isn’t all that powerful in comparison to the other two consoles this generation. Good-Feel made this game what it is on weaker hardware, and they made it look just as amazing as a powerhouse game like Final Fantasy 13. Kudos to you guys.
Well, Kirby doesn’t suck anymore. /pun
Kirby has always been known to suck down his enemies in order to get the powers he needs to get through his adventures. However, in a turn of events, Kirby is not able to suck up baddies and other objects in a world full of yarn. If you just can’t handle the lack of suckage this game creates, then you might want to look elsewhere. But, if you are willing to take on a different gameplay mechanic than your usual Kirby game, this is not a bad place to try. Instead of sucking in enemies, Kirby draws them in with a piece of himself like a cowboy lassos in his prey. From pulling away zippers, to attaching himself to buttons, to unraveling enemies into balls of yarn, Kirby can do it all with the power of his own hands (or whatever you would like to call the piece of yarn Kirby uses in game).
How does Kirby get his trademark powers you ask? Well, you won’t see the traditional powers in this particular title, but you will instead see entirely different powers that Kirby will occasionally be offered during the game. Some examples? How about turning into a parachute to glide across ledges? Or turning into a RC car to race other baddies? Or turning into a tank to take down foes? Those are just a few of the powers you are likely to see over the course of the game—all with specific purposes. The rest of the game will be reliant on your skills at using Kirby himself to get through a level.
Story? This one is definitely kid friendly.
Kirby games have never been really known for their story, with the exception of a few key games in Super Star. I will admit that while the story is Epic Yarn is lacking somewhat, it’s a very cute premise and the few cutscene videos in this game definitely put a smile to your face. Here is the main background of this game: While walking along in Dreamland, Kirby spots a tomato and goes over to eat it. The tomato is later found out to be called a “metameto”, which was owned by an evil wizard by the name of Yin-Yarn. Yin-Yarn becomes angry at Kirby’s actions, and decides to suck him into a magic sock located on his waist. This sock takes Kirby to a place called Patch Land, and after saving Prince Fluff and learning of Patch Land’s problems, Kirby decides to help Fluff patch back together the seven lands of Patch Land and save the kingdom by defeating Yin-Yarn. Again, a simple premise, but it’s a story that even the kids can enjoy (unlike many of the games seen on your neighborhood MvG broadcasts).
Can’t die eh? Don’t worry, it still ain’t easy.
One of the biggest complaints coming from critics of Epic Yarn is the fact that you can not actually die in the game. Yes, that fact is true, and if you are just trying to get through all the levels and complete the game at a basic minimum, then yes, there is no question that this game is very easy. Of course, what would you expect from a game that is somewhat catered to young gamers just as much as us, the older generation?
But just because this game is easy at its most basic level does not mean the game doesn’t have its fair share of challenges. If you are looking to thoroughly complete each level this game has to offer (and you are going to want to, trust me on that one), you will need to not only avoid getting hit by enemies to keep your number of beads high, but you will also have to look for secret areas in most cases to collect the multitude of treasures this game has inside. The later you get into this game, the harder its going to be, and I will be the first to admit I had my share of rage moments during the final areas of the game. It’s the specifics of the game that make it hard, so don’t think that the lack of death in this game makes it an easy playthrough—because that is just not the case from my experience.
The true jewel of Epic Yarn is the music.
If you are a Kirby fan like myself, you will almost certainly remember some of the tracks in this game from previous games (mainly Super Star), but even the original tracks in this game are amazing. The trio of composers Tomoya Tomita, Jun Ishikawa, and Hirokazu Ando did a marvelous job putting together the OST to this game, which just like other recent Nintendo games, has a very orchestra like feel to it at a majority of its tracks. Even in the game’s darker levels, the music is the normal happy tone that you would expect from a Kirby game. Here are a few examples of some of the calming music you’ll hear over the course of your playthrough:
A little fanservice for the old Kirby faithful.
After playing through about 3/4 of the game, I will admit that I was getting a little weary of the ol’ yarn. Then, after a late game turn of events, you ultimately find the reason why you are playing the game in the first place. After seeing multiple stages late in the game pay homage to the SNES title Kirby Super Star, you will once again find yourself loving the little pink puffball. This title also gets extremely diverse in the late stages because of its throwback mentality, including throwing you into a yarn created starship for some shmup styled levels based off of Super Star’s grand finale, Milkyway Wishes, and placing you back in the classic Kirby’s Adventure level, “Green Greens”. If you were a fan at all of Super Star, then you must play through this game if only to get to the end and find yourself back in the 90’s playing the classics all over again.
There is so much to collect here, you would think you were a hoarder.
One of the biggest mini games outlining the entire game is the collection of different fabrics and furniture that you can use in the decorating of Kirby’s own apartment. You can collect these hundreds upon hundreds of goodies through finding them in each level of the game or by completing different challenges in five different mini games hosted by fellow characters of Patch Land. It’s these mini games that are the perfect compliment to the normal level to level progression of the game, as these mini games are very diverse and sometimes extremely difficult. If the regular levels didn’t make you rage, some of the challenges the mini games bring to you will definitely bring the rage on for you. If there is any gripe I have with this game, it is the fact that some of these mini games are downright unfair at times, and you might need a great number of tries to get through them. But, if you can handle the pain of some of these challenges, you will be rewarded with different fabrics that go toward your completion percentage that you can also use to decorate your apartment. So, even Sims fans will find some fun in Epic Yarn just by the shear number of ways to make your gameplay experience unique.
PS: Yes, I am a bit childish by having so much fun with collecting something as useless as Fabric. Don’t think I’m childish though, because once you start collecting yourself, you are not going to want to stop. ^_^
Bottomline: This is the defining Kirby game of this generation.
There is a soft place in my heart for Kirby Super Star, and despite how great this game is, I still believe that game was the best game in this series by a very good margin. However, considering the lack of quality this series has had as of late, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a fantastic addition to the history of the Kirby franchise and is right up there with Super Star as a defining game of its time. The style of this game alone makes it unique amongst the rest of the current big name titles out there, and because the makers of this game took a chance with its design and gameplay, they should ultimately be rewarded with high praise. There is a reason that this game is being seen as one of the best games this year, and if you are a fan of the retro Kirby I so know and love (and even if you aren’t), this is a game that every single Wii owner needs to put into their console and play at least once. You are truly doing yourself a disservice if you don’t give Kirby’s Epic Yarn a fair shot.
Any questions or comments regarding Kirby’s Epic Yarn? Feel free to post them up in the comments! Thanks for reading, MvG viewers! (PS: Thanks for waiting so long for an article from Mr. Duff. It’s been a while, so hopefully I can start doing these more regularly again!)