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RELEASE DATE (NA): October 17, 2010 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Living in a material world.

Kirby's Epic Yarn was developed by the folks at Good-Feel, and I guess they considered a world made of yarn and other fabric swatches to feel good. Originally, the game was to feature Prince Fluff as the hero, but at Nintendo's insistence, they injected the game with a hearty dose of Kirby instead. Rightly so, I might add, as Prince Fluff starts out fairly unlikeable, initially being a bit of a git upon Kirby's arrival.

In this edition of "Kirby Stumbles Into Trouble", his appetite for tomatoes is the cause of all havoc, as the one he chooses to eat this time around is actually possessed by the ghastly magician Yin-Yarn, who sends Kirby to Patch Land, a land separate from Dream Land made entirely out of various crafting materials (you might say this world has been "fabricated"). Once there, Kirby immediately, and non-willingly, blends in with the locals by turning into a being made entirely of yarn! Great. To add insult to injury, Kirby's quickly put to work by the royal Prince Fluff to restore Patch Land to its former glory, as it has recently been torn apart by Yin-Yarn. Kirby must venture out and retrieve the seven strands of magic yarn to tie the pieces of Patch Land together. (A second player can also join as Prince Fluff if desired.)

Kirby must truly be a legend because he never dies in this game. Seriously, he has the strength of some sort of super-yarn. No matter how many times he takes a beating, you can't kill Kirby. There's no lives system at all. The only penalty received for suffering a smack or falling into a pit is that he loses many of the beads he's been collecting, although they tend to just fly off and land on a ledge where they can be quickly recovered. This automatically makes Kirby's Epic Yarn one of the easiest titles to date, rivaling even the original Kirby's Dream Land, which can be completed in under 25 minutes.

One of the key differences with this title is Kirby's change in abilities. Being a yarn man now, he can't pull off the two primary abilities that define the character: he can't fly, and he can't inhale objects. This also means he no longer can absorb the powers of his enemies. This makes you wonder: how exactly is this a Kirby game if he can't do any Kirby things? Well... uh... okay, you're right: it feels off. It feels very off. To be honest, this shouldn't be a Kirby game. In more ways than one, Kirby isn't himself. The lack of classic abilities will shock long-time Kirby fanatics. He can't even use a sword any longer, which makes fighting Meta Knight extremely jarring.

So what exactly CAN Kirby do? First, he must have had an extra strand of yarn sticking out because he can now pull off a whip move, similar to that of the Castlevanian Belmonts, only with more flexibility. He can use the whip to grab enemies to toss or to pull at loose threads in the world to reveal secrets or activate mechanisms. Also, if blocks are in your way, feel free to yank them out. It's also the only way for Kirby to defend himself during boss battles, as most bosses have a special spot to grab. Except for that Meta Knight, that is. He's built pretty solidly for a guy made of wool. Kirby's yarn also comes in handy when he's in freefall, as he can easily pull out a woolly parachute for a safe landing.

Kirby's Epic Yarn provides a world that is woven together well!

His other new ability is to transform into various objects. Kirby can't change at will, mind you — he must find Metamortexes, large patches of yarn, that serve as the catalyst. They're always out in the open, so there's little concern for missing them. Transformations significantly range, from a yarn dolphin to a gas-powered off-roader, from a flying saucer to even a giant tank that fires rockets (I strongly dislike the latter, as it awkwardly requires tilting the Wiimote to aim). My personal favourite transformation is the rocketship, during which time vertical or horizontal shmup-style gameplay is injected into our televisions. These segments are among the most enjoyable of the game.

I mentioned bead collecting earlier, and that is another key element of Kirby's Epic Yarn. These beads help Dom Woole, the local oafish landlord who prefers not to sink his own money into the apartment buildings in Quilty Square. He asks YOU to provide him with adequate funds to expand the building. What a butt. In perhaps as an homage to LittleBigPlanet, Kirby also collects various bits of furniture and wallpapers swatches to decorate these apartments, which then lures potential tenants. The tenants offer bonus games and time trial sequences, if you are so interested. This aspect can be completely ignored, as it hardly affects the rest of the game whether you choose to participate or not; it's more a gratification for collect-a-thon enthusiasts and hardcore yarnfolk.

The game's controls are pretty solid, though Kirby's a tad on the slippery and floaty side. My main gripe comes with a few of the transformations, notably the Tankbot, whereby aiming by tilting the Wiimote is consistently a pain. The Fire Engine transformation is similar in that you have to aim your water stream, but the stream is constant, so you can more easily point and adjust your spray. The other vehicles are good fun, such as the Surf Boarder, as the game turns more into a racing tournament.

But Kirby's Epic Yarn, despite having solid gameplay, seems to want to bank itself on its appearance, and rightfully so: this game is exquisite. Rich both in colour and in texture (as it ought to be), every level is a treat for the eyes, and it's impressive how Good-Feel has managed to tweak its fabrics to resemble different terrains, successfully including water and lava. Everything else also has the same level of attention to detail. I'm impressed by the simple yet intricately-styled bosses and enemies, as well as the throwbacks to classic foes like King Dedede, Waddle Doo, and Meta Knight. The game's soundtrack is pleasant but a bit too calm for a Kirby game, though, with too many piano interludes, lacking the upbeat, chipper, and somewhat comical nature of other Kirby titles.

Despite not having the gameplay of other Kirby platformers, Kirby's Epic Yarn is a tight platformer, a gorgeous game overall, and a must-have for Wii owners. Despite it looking soft or too "kiddy" with its fabric aesthestic or being too easy because you can never truly die, Kirby's Epic Yarn is a game that can be enjoyed by all and probably should be.

I'd close with some sort of fabric-related pun, but... no jokes are looming inside me.

Oh darn.

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