The lights are on
It’s been a long time since Kirby starred in a game outside a Nintendo DS or Super Smash Bros. title and he is overdue for a return to a Nintendo console. Everyone’s favorite pink cream puff is back in Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Returning to his side-scrolling adventure roots and a fresh new art style, Kirby has also brought a long a new friend for some light-hearted co-op fun.Off the bat the most noticeable change to the Kirby franchise is its highly textured presentation. The game looks like its stitched together with cloth, yarn, buttons, and other craft materials. It reminds me of the first time I saw LittleBigPlanet’s art style, but evokes even more whimsy due to the nostalgia tied to the series. Epic Yarn is a refreshingly bright, simple, and beautiful optimization of the Wii’s graphical capabilities.Upon picking up the Wii Remote Epic Yarn is immediately playable, sporting a microscopic learning curve. Kirby’s trademark vacuum and float moves are M.I.A. at this point, but his new abilities immediately wash away those memories. “Epic yarn” may be more than the game’s title, as Kirby wields a piece of string like a whip to interact with the world. Enemies and bricks can be lassoed into throwable balls, which makes knocking down additional barriers and foes a snap. Kirby can even use the yarn to swing from buttons like a tiny, pink Bionic Commando. No longer relying on consuming enemies to transform, Kirby can morph into different objects to do awesome things. He can turn into a car to dash, a parachute to glide, and a brick to pulverize objects. Playing Kirby Epic Yarn is fun as it is, but throw in the game’s drop-in, drop-out co-op and you’re in for an even better time. Kirby’s blue friend Prince Fluff can be played by a second player throughout the entire game. Interaction between the characters is simple and self-explanatory. Kirby and Prince Fluff can toss eachother around the map, allowing for easy access to tricky ledges. The duo can also combine to transform into a massive battle tank. Using the Wii Remote’s motion controls player one controls a massive boxing glove, while player two aims a volley of missiles. Getting a taste of this cooperative destruction has me thirsty for more.Kirby games are highly regarded for their polished and entertaining boss battles. Epic Yarn is no different. Kirby and Prince Fluff face off against a giant green dragon at the end of the demo. The two must whip and fire back flaming buttons that the dragon spews out, causing the beast’s tongue loll from its maw. He then whips the button at the tip of the boss’s tongue, pulls it back, and slingshots it back to deal damage. The battle was a blast, and I can’t wait to see if Meta Knight and King Dedede make appearances.Overall, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a sweet surprise from Nintendo from what I played. Hal Laboratory has proved themselves capable with the Super Smash Bros. games and past Kirby titles, and I can feel the passion emanating from this overdue console title. If you love light-hearted and engaging side-scrolling action, keep this one on your radar leading up to its Fall 2010 release.