Many South African gamers would likely not be too familiar with Kirby – Nintendo and HAL Labs’ fluffy, pink, enemy-inhaling ball of awesome. Originally released late in the life cycle of the NES, when the SNES was already making headway everywhere but here, he would have been overlooked because in the console gaming realm,Â the country would have alreadyÂ been gripped by Sega’s Megadrive. Later games, barring some of the handheld games and the middling Kirby Air Ride on the Gamecube, failed to make their way to our shores as a result of inadequate (or completely missing) Nintendo representation.
Times have changed, and Kirby’s first home console game since 2003 is here. Kirby’s Epic Yarn, when demonstrated at last year’s E3, drew throngs of excited applause. Does it spin an epic yarn, or is it an epic fail?
Kirby’s Epic Yarn is, like many of Nintendo’s Marquee titles, a platformer. As such, the Wiimote is held in the horizontal, classic NES-style. You know what that means? Very little motion-controlled gimmickry – and that’s not a bad thing at all.
The evil, woollen Yin-Yarn has transported our favourite puffy pink protagonist to Patch Land, a world (not unlike LittleBigPlanet) sewn of wool, buttons, fabrics, zipper and the sort of stuff you’ve find in your granny’s sewing kit, or a haberdasher’s fire sale. Stylistically, developer Good-Feel has nailed the textile aesthetic, and oft-times you’ll forget that what you’re really looking at is a bunch of pixels, not a tapestry of realistically wrinkling felt and fabric.
The world’s been torn asunder or more correctly, unwoven – and it’s now your job to seek out the 8 strands of magic yarn that are necessary to stitch it back together. By your side, should you choose to play co-operatively, is Prince Fluff, sovereign of Patch Land and Kirby’s contemporary. Once resident in Patch Land, Kirby himself is made of a single thread of wool. Now missing one dimension, his signature move of swallowing enemies in a gulp of air and stealing their attacks is gone; his primary method of attack is, (surprise!) a whip of wool. Kirby’s flocculent new accoutrement can be used to either unravel enemies completely, or roll them in to a ball, which can be carried atop his head and used later.
Gone is Kirby’s ability to absorb powers, but his ability to change forms is still present. Double tap forward, and Kirby changes from fluffy pink ball, to fluffy pink car – gaining a speed boost. Press the jump button a second time whilst still airborne, and the twine that shapes Kirby is reformed in to a parachute, offering him longer airtime. At certain sections of the game, you’ll be altered in to more grand, but still fabric forms; a dolphin, a UFO, a dune buggy or a water-spouting fire truck – and more. These sections change the pace of the game, and offer some welcome variety.
Last Updated: March 8, 2011