|Not quite what we wanted but still okay.|
Lets be honest, there has not been a single real console Kirby game ever since Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards came out back in 2000 on the Nintendo 64 with mixed reviews. Since then there have been several Kirby games on the handhelds such as remakes of older games such as Kirby's Adventure and Kirby Super Star as well as several other games that greatly deviate from the original formula of the game like Kirby Canvas Curse and the more recent Kirby Mass Attack. This seems fitting since Kirby's original debut was Kirby's Dreamland on the original Game Boy, however Kirby fans everywhere could not help but long for another console release for the pink fluffball.
In 2009 however we saw the start of what I like to call the Nintendo Renaissance in which Nintendo began to take their classic characters such as Mario and Donkey Kong back to their SNES roots with games such as New Super Mario Bros Wii and Donkey Kong Country Returns. It seemed inevitable that a Kirby game was due for release as well and in 2010 we got Kirby's Epic Yarn for the Nintendo Wii, however what we got was not quite the nostalgia trip that fans were expecting.
Apparantly the ever hungry Kirby has swallowed a tomato belonging to a vengeful magician named Yin-Yarn, offended; the evil sorceror banishes Kirby to Patch Land; a world where everyone and everything is made of yarn. In this new world Kirby finds that his ability to inhale has become useless but has instead gained the ability to transform from the tomato he ate, using these powers he rescues a boy named Fluff whom is the prince of Patch Land. Fluff explains to Kirby that Yin-Yarn has removed the magical yarn tying Patch Land together thus causing the world to split into seven pieces and requests his aid in retrieving the magic yarn from Yin-Yarn's monsters to sew Patch Land back together.
The story is simplistic but then again what can you really expect from a Kirby game? The cutscenes in Kirby's Epic Yarn are presented kind of like a video storybook for children in that there is no voice acting except for the narrator who reads the story and character dialogue to the player which can really draw younger players in but at the same time sound a little childish to older fans. Since this game is made for players of all ages I can't really criticize or say much about the story other than it fufills its purpose of providing a plot and conflict for the game.
Kirby's Epic Yarn has perhaps one of the most interesting visual styles I have ever seen in my time as a gamer. As stated before the game takes place in Patch Land where everything is made of yarn and I do mean EVERYTHING; Kirby, the enemies, and even the backgrounds are made of brightly colored yarn which is rather unconventional but ultimately a brilliant idea not unlike that of the Paper Mario games. The brightly colored backgrounds are also packed with exquisite detail, for example as Kirby takes a step the ground beneath him sags like a quilt, the walls of buildings bulge as Kirby walks through them which helps keep track of his location as he moves offscreen. Each of the game's many worlds are filled with lush detail and eye-dazzling color and range from grassy plains, fiery wastelands, and and snow-capped mountains.
The game's soundtrack consists of very calm piano-heavy music that will both draw you into the game's endearing atmosphere but will probably also lull you to sleep, especially if you are already very tired thus making it very hard to play this game close to bedtime. Despite the tranquility of nearly every piece of music it still perfectly reflects the location as well as situation, and since the music is so calm and quiet, it really does not have a repetitive feel to it at all. There are several returning popular tracks such as Butter Building and the iconic end of level theme accompanied by Kirby's victory dance. Sound effects however can be a little annoying as the consist mostly of cutesy sounds for when Kirby jumps, dashes, and performs various other actions.
Like all Kirby games the object of the game is to make it from the start of the level to the goal point at the end where a bonus is awarded depending on the outcome of the bonus wheel. In the final level of each world Kirby will encounter a boss that he must defeat in order to retrieve a piece of magic yard. The game is played with the Wii remote turned sideways similar to an NES controller on a traditional 2D field in which the player can only move right and left as well as jump and ascend platforms. And like the other games of the Nintendo Renaissance the game allows simultaneous co-op multiplayer which is unnecesary but fun.
As stated before Kirby cannot inhale and swallow enemies while in Patch Land, however thanks to the magic tomato he ate before being spirited away allows him to transform himself in many different ways, for example instead of inhaling air and flying Kirby will now turn into a parachute and slowly descend while dashing on the ground will turn him into a car. In certain levels Kirby can also turn into other vehicles such as a tank, a UFO, and a digging machine for a limited duration of the stage which adds a touch of variety to the different levels as each of the vehicles play very differently from each other and are all rather fun to play as.
Despite being unable to inhale Kirby still maintains his signature method of defeating enemies by using his enemies as weapons via his whip-like arm, the whip allows Kirby to grab enemies and crumple them up into a ball of yarn to be used to hurl at other enemies or obstacles. Kirby can also use the whip to swing on buttons to unravel backgrounds or get a little extra oomph to his jumps.
Throughout the game the player will collect beads which function as the games currency and can be spent on various ventures such as buying furniture for Kirby's apartment in Fluff's castle, and expanding the apartment complex to allow more NPCs to move in. Beads are also used to determine the grade you get at the end of the stage, at the top of the screen there is a string that fills up with beads as you collect them and each section you complete raises your grade one medal color ranging from bronze to gold. In addition to beads there are also several pieces of furniture scattered throughout the levels which can be used to either decorate Kirby's apartment or place in the other apartments to get NPCs to rent the room out.
There are several sidequests in the game that serve little purpose other than completion, mostly consisting of the several mini-games that are unlocked as you expand the apartment complex, these games consist of short distractions such as hide-and-seek, completing these games grants Kirby a new decoration for his apartment. Unless you are a completionist, or like decorating things these side-quests are entirely pointless and incredibly easy.
While the Kirby games have always been made for gamers of all ages and have never been particularly difficult it is quite fair to say that this particular installment is way too easy. It is impossible to lose in any form at all, in fact the only consequence for getting hit by an enemy attack is losing a hefty amount of beads but other than that feel free to get absolutely wailed on without consequence. I feel as if this game was made almost exclusively with kids in mind as it very greatly resembles other popular children's games like the Lego Star Wars games which are made for the purpose of having fun without any extensive consequence.
Like most of the Kirby games before it the replayability is rather limited, you can go back and improve your overall grade in each stage and find any furniture you missed but other than that you probably won't want to play this game again (at least for a while) after beating it.
This game is fun but it feels more geared towards children as it is incredibly easy and very childish in design and nature. The game will definitely disappoint anyone looking for a traditional Kirby game (like me) and will probably put off older gamers with its low difficulty. However I can definitely appreciate the work that went into the art style which is an incredible visual treat for the eyes and is almost worth playing for that aspect alone. While I acknowledge that this is a good game I would recommend it only for families with younger children or hardcore fans of Kirby who can look past the difficulty.
Buy it for the kids, but rent otherwise.