|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Good-Feel/HAL||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 17, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Although the folks at Nintendo are all about targeting the casual market, it seems that they are increasingly going after those who pine for the games of old. Last years New Super Mario Bros. Wii proved that the retro side-scrolling experience was still quite the selling point for many consumers, and this simplistic title went on to become the best-selling standalone title of 2009. Capitalizing on this success, Nintendo has unveiled their next big side-scroller, Kirbys Epic Yarn. It may sound like blasphemy, but I think this title may even be better than Mario!
We were able to get some hands-on time with one of the games first levels, and even though we were playing an early build of the game, it looked incredibly polished. Like the name implies, the world of Kirbys Epic Yarn has plenty of string-based elements. Kirby himself has abandoned his usual jiggly pink aesthetic for a minimalist approach that sees our hero becoming a see-through yarn-based creature (with a cute set of googly eyes to match)! The enemies also have a yarn-based look, and though nothing in this world looks frightening, we did get to see a detailed yarn-dragon near the end of our time with the demo. In an interesting and humorous twist, the yarn-based enemies explode into stringy confetti when defeated. Although you might imagine this feature getting old after a few minutes, I was giggling my way through the entire demo!
In addition to Kirbys new yarn-based look, the world of Kirbys Epic Yarn also has an arts-and-crafts feel. The background looks like it is made of different patches of cloth, and the landscape is dominated by things like string, buttons, and zippers. The landscape is interactive, and Kirby can use his yarn-whip cracking powers to reveal secrets and hidden areas within the fabric of the games universe (see what I did there?). The game also has special areas where you can crawl under the fabric background, and you can follow Kirby as a little 3D bump under the landscape. The fabric effects were good-looking, and I was impressed with the quality of the visuals overall. The look reminded me of the homemade elements of Little Big Planet, but with brighter colors and more string.
However, even though the game features a modern look, the gameplay is strictly retro. Much like with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you hold the Wii-Mote NES-style and use the 1 and 2 buttons to jump and attack. Kirbys standard attack involves a whip that can either be used to thwart enemies or open new areas. As far as transformations were concerned, we were able to change into a little vehicle early on (with just a tap of the D-pad) and a large tank during a boss battle. While we were transformed, the controls were the same, except with the addition of a tilt-based aiming mechanic that could be used to accurately fire the tank vehicles primary weapon. The tilt mechanics feel a lot like the tilt used in Wario Land: Shake It! and were very familiar.
In addition to taking down enemies and playing around with the landscape, we were able to check out the games co-op as well. The entire game can be shared with a second player, and even though the games story wont change depending on the number of players, the strategy you use to get through tough areas might. Not only can you combine with your partner to create super vehicles, you can also use your lasso weapon to carry them around difficult-to-navigate areas.
The only disappointing part of our time with Kirbys Epic Yarn was the realization that our favorite float technique was gone. Although this was a staple of previous Kirby games, the signature Kirby float has been done away with in favor of transforming into a little parachute capable of gliding down slowly from high surfaces. While I was initially disappointed with this aspect of the game, it makes sense considering the games shift to traditional 2D side-scrolling. Just floating along the top would be cheating, wouldnt it?
Although some major changes have been made to the gameplay and the games style, Kirbys Epic Yarn definitely feels like a retro experience. Much like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the game thrives off a new approach to an old format. But this is a good thing, and I cant think of a more fitting way for Nintendos most famously round character to make his comeback. Although we dont have a firm date for release, you can expect Kirbys Epic Yarn to hit shelves sometime later this year.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC News Director