Good morning, boys and girls. Before we begin today’s lecture, I’d like to ask you all a few questions. How many of you wept tears of joy on finally seeing General Radec spout his final, bloodied words as he crumpled to the floor? Alright, good. Did you invent new swear words while getting shot to pieces during the cheap-death glitch-riddled Favela level of Modern Warfare 2? Hmm, quite a few of you; that’s okay. Did you reach a point where you almost wished you never bought Demon’s Souls for its soul crushing difficulty? Great. You might wonder where all of this is going and if it would lead to me stating that Kirby’s Epic Yarn is, much like the games described above, a controller-throwing, cuss-word-inducing experience. That’s when I’d go all Eric Cartman on you and shout, “Ha ha!”(or Nelson from The Simpsons if that’s your thing).
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Animated pop culture references aside, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is one of the few traditional games this generation that doesn’t involve moments designed to give you a heart attack. Instead, the fine folk at HAL Laboratory seem to have studied the side-effects of the increased tension caused by next-gen gaming and decided to make this an extremely soothing experience. In a land made of cloth; Patch Land, to be precise, you don’t die. You just lose whatever beads (the games version of Mario’s coins or Sonic’s rings) you’ve collected. If you have no beads, you’re just brought back from the dead anyway. You will never see a Game Over screen in this game. But that doesn’t detract from the experience. There’s a lot of optional hardcore things to be interested in, such as collecting enough beads to attain a gold medal ranking, and three hidden items in each level, which if found, open up bonus levels.
By and large, this is a penalty-free game that you can plough through in under six hours if you don’t care about getting a perfect rank in each level or grabbing all three hidden items. Oh, and the boss fights are usually two or three-hit affairs once you figure out their weak spots and patterns of attack, which is quite simplistic. However, those hours spent jumping around ooze a charm that’s hard to shake off even long after you’re done with the game and moved on to the next. Like one of the year’s better platformers – Limbo, Kirby’s Epic Yarn has an extremely unique art direction. While Limbo featured a monochrome palette that seared through your skull, Kirby’s Epic Yarn appeals to your “Awww, so cute” side with the entire game world and Kirby himself made of yarn and fabric. It is testament to the fact that you don’t need hi-def graphics to make a game look good. Throw in some delightful animations that put most emoticons to shame and you have something that’s different, appealing and almost magical. Watching Kirby dance across the screen on completing a level is a sheer joy.
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The gameplay deviates from the standard Kirby formula of being able to swallow enemies and copy them. Instead, you have an attack button which extends Kirby’s arm like a string to whip enemies (holding it longer allows you to roll them into yarn to throw at other foes), and a jump button to move over obstacles. Also removed is Kirby’s ability to float. It’s been replaced with abilities like being able to glide as a parachute on holding the jump button, a high-impact drop as an anvil, and turning into a car for a boost of speed. Sure, it might seem a little reminiscent of 2007’s Super Paper Mario, but it works brilliantly as the controls are tight and respond well. The best part is that you don’t require the nunchuck to play this game at all, making it a simple and elegant experience.
Mid-way through levels, Kirby gets to transform into some really diverse things, such as a dune buggy, a giant robot, a surfing penguin, and even a flying saucer. These sections allow you to tilt the Wii remote in order to dodge or fire at incoming enemies and are great bonus areas to max out your bead collection for a higher ranking and currency. Speaking of currency, you can also use beads to buy furniture to decorate your apartment. From time to time, NPCs will show up and set challenges such as finding them in a game of hide and seek or collecting all the beads in a specified level. These are quirky bonuses that just add to the game’s already gargantuan charm quotient. The game features a soundtrack that ranges from competent to epic, with each track suiting the theme and tone of the varied levels and boss fights. They are worth a listen far after the game is over.
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All in all, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a game for anyone and everyone who owns a Wii; and their friends too as it features two-player co-op, where the second player assists Kirby to get to those hard-to-reach beads on each level. It’s a crying shame that most people who own a Wii won’t go further than Wii Sports to check out what is perhaps one of the most endearing and relaxing games of this generation. Class dismissed.
Wait, what? You want to know about the story? Damn backbenchers! Here it is for those of you who care – Kirby, having an appetite that suits his rotund stature, angers an evil wizard known as Yin-Yarn and finds himself in his sock in a place called Patch Land. Are you happy now? Good.