Watch out, Kirby’s making a running stitch!
If there’s one thing we learned from E3 this year, it’s that Nintendo isn’t playing around anymore. Along with the incredible Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo has begun the revival of its most beloved franchises, to the cheers of its hardcore fans – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Metroid: Other M, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Golden Sun DS, Star Fox for 3DS, and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. But unlike the rest of the lineup, Kirby’s Epic Yarn completely refashions its iconic character and, shall we say, rethreads the world of the hungry pink poof ball.
[image1]Like the colorful and bright Yoshi’s Story for N64, every environment has been inspired by quilting techniques. Clouds and trees are softly stitched into the background and appliquéd on each other, while characters have transparent bodies that are outlined in yarn. Instead of sucking in enemies to transform into cosplay clones of himself, Kirby automatically morphs into a car for dashing, a miniature submarine in water, a top when spinning, and given a special morphing area, a UFO, an aerial surfboard, and even a giant, punching, rocket-launching robot.
Flinging a sturdy string like a rope, Kirby (and a friend in co-op mode) can whip enemies into a death cloud of untangled yarn or a solid ball that can be thrown at other baddies. Kirby can also use the string to swing on buttons, unzip new areas, peel off stickers and clouds to reveal treasures, and pull the environment closer together like a curtain.
It’s these playful moments of ingenuity that capture the lighthearted innocence tied to great gameplay which distinguishes Nintendo from other developers: swinging on a tree to let its fruit (or beads, in this case) fall to the ground, swaying on a pterodactyl’s belly "button", or floating on the seedlings of a dandelion. When Kirby enters a building, you know where he is by the bulge coming out of the fabric of the building. (Yep, it’s Kirby’s bulge.) Just the way Kirby twists to turn around is adorable.
[image2]With such a whimsical appearance, Kirby’s Epic Yarn might look easy… and it is. Fighting off a dragon by latching its tongue and whipping it back into its face hardly qualifies as a challenge. But players looking to master the game will have to collect all the colorful beads and treasures in a level (and have skill on the bonus wheel at the end) if they want to earn a three-star rating. Getting hit knocks some of Kirby’s beads out, like Sonic and his rings, and resets the consecutive bead meter to zero, so your dodging ability will be tested. We’re not yet sure what happens, if anything, for earning three-star ratings and high consecutive bead counts on every level (but I’m guessing a secret ending).
Nintendo has always been known for whimsy and Kirby’s Epic Yarn is all wrapped up in a ball of it. Normally, it’s better to reserve all judgment for any title showcased at E3, but this is a certified winner before it’s even due this fall. I bet all my buttons on it.