Electronic Theatre Preview: Kirby’s Epic Yarn

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            Having gone down as one of the most pleasing surprises of this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Kirby’s Epic Yarn has already commanded a great deal of anticipation after only one public airing. This attention is most certainly warranted however, as Kirby’s Epic Yarn proves as compelling to play as it does to watch in motion.

            At a recent press event in London, Nintendo offered attendees a second chance to get hands-on with the game. Although the build was identical to the E3 version, the quieter, more relaxed environment allowedei2010_blip.jpg Electronic Theatre to spend some time working out the nuances of Kirby’s Epic Yarn’s gameplay, finding hidden routes and bonuses in addition to striving for greater scores.

            Kirby’s Epic Yarn’s is a traditional 2D Platform game played by holding the Wii Remote sideways, with the twist being the game’s woollen aesthetic. More than simply an inspired art direction, the idea of Kirby’s material world has been woven into all aspects of the game: cotton paths bend with added weight, going through doors can lead to hidden paths underneath a layer of material and Kirby’s attack sees him whipping enemies with his own wool extension. The fact that Kirby’s traditional abilities have been removed almost entirely may come as a shock to fans of the long standing franchise, but it’s soon overcome when the simple charm of Kirby’s Epic Yarn is experienced firsthand.

The demo build offered two complete levels culminating in a boss fight, and could be played through in either single-player or two-player co-operative mode. A second player could jump into the game at any point, with no impact on the action in progress beyond the new presence. This does however allow for previously inaccessible areas to be reached via the co-operative ability which will be familiar to anyone having played any of the simultaneous multiplayer Mario Bros. titles; throwing one another.

With the whole experience being built around the wool aesthetic, it’s no surprise that the visual element of Kirby’s Epic Yarn is immaculate. Pleasant pastel shades of green, blue and pink on an almost tangible cloth effect backdrop provide a charismatic setting for the fluidly animatedei2010_blip.jpg string characters. Comparisons could well be drawn with the Yoshi’s Island and Yoshi’s Story titles, and while those earlier Nintendo releases could well be considered the inspiration for Kirby’s dramatic change of style, here in Kirby’s Epic Yarn it’s been refined into more than simply an interesting backdrop.

At a first look, Kirby’s Epic Yarn garnered much praise for it’s genuinely unique art direction, and now getting to grips with the game’s Platform action, two-player gameplay and simple but addictive score mechanic (awarding the players a ranking medal upon level completion based upon the number of secrets uncovered and other factors) has lead Electronic Theatre to hold the game in very high regard indeed. The Wii may often be criticised for its lack of innovation within Nintendo’s best loved franchises, but in Kirby’s Epic Yarn the faithful may well have a new champion.

 

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