Tuesday 2 November 2010

Game Review - Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Kirby’s Epic Yarn out in US now, UK date TBC (2011).

I think it is safe to say that most gamers have a soft spot for Kirby. The delightful bubblegum-based character has been and always will be a staple icon in the video game industry so it is no surprise to see him once again come back for a new installment. Fortunately for Kirby the developers at Good-Feel have created one of the most wondrous and beautiful side-scrolling adventures of 2010 in Kirby’s Epic Yarn. While not incredibly challenging and holding a few small control issues, Epic Yarn oozes aesthetic pleasure. Indeed the game’s diverse environments are so beautiful and so much fun to navigate that you will find yourself in constant awe at the innovative and intuitive design that Epic Yarn has undertaken. On top of this you will find lots of versatility in the game’s different mechanics, lots of secrets and mini-games to take part in and a fantastic two player cooperative mode that lets you share the joy with a friend.

So straight away it is fairly obviously that technical presentation is at the heart of Kirby’s Epic Yarn. It is hard to describe the beautiful and in depth detail that engrosses the screen stage after stage until you see it for yourself. The game’s design is based off of yarn, but you probably guessed that. What it does allow however is the ability to weave your surroundings as Kirby pulls strings that change areas and moves platforms etc. Not only is this art style incredibly pleasing on the eyes but also in very clever ways allows you to interact with the environment in really never seen before fashion. Epic Yarn also has a fantastic audio track that really emphasizes this cute and fluffy world you find yourself in.

Normally such massive emphasis on looks usually means that the game could be lackluster in other departments. This is certainly not the case as the game compliments its beautiful world with very good game-play. You will find a large variety of levels to play through, all of which contain lots of different and interesting puzzles to solve or certain bosses to kill. Naturally Kirby has the ability to transform depending on his scenario but things are a little different to what old school Kirby fans should be used to. Instead of sucking up enemies and absorbing their powers, Kirby instead transforms when he needs to. For example, upon diving into water Kirby transforms into a little mini submarine. Other levels require you to play throughout in a pre-transformed state, for example the space levels force Kirby to take the shape of a rocket ship. This occurs at various points in the game with plenty of variety so its worth playing simply to find out what genius shapes Kirby will take on next in order to complete the next fun task at hand. These transformations help to mix up the game’s basic platforming elements in such a way that you are always given different things to do with Kirby, making each level a new surprise. Unfortunately at times Epic Yarn has a few little control issues with certain transformations, this is natural for the Wiimote and when things get packed on the screen it is quite difficult to grab certain enemies or perform a certain movement, but this is few and far between and rarely gets in the way of a great experience.

Aside from completing each level you are also given the opportunity to collect as many beads throughout to gain a gold, silver or bronze score. This is a welcome addition to Epic Yarn because aside from that, the game is actually pretty easy and lacks challenge. There is actually no way to die in the game, literally you just don’t die. So apart from a few hidden collectables in each level and trying to achieve a gold ranking, there is little reason to go back to the levels on your own. Make what you will of this point because being quite easy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of challenge can annoy some gamers. I suppose it is worth noting that being on the Wii the game isn’t going to have a ‘Kirby Must Die’ mode for the more hardcore gamers out there.

Fortunately Epic Yarn does deliver some engaging content once the game itself is completed. The game’s mini game stages are surprisingly whole-hearted and to an extent, better than the actual story missions. This is largely because the challenges that are set require actual use of skill that is never really tested in the story. As a result, you will find yourself getting involved with these mini games and getting hooked trying to perfect the scores and get the best times etc.

In my opinion Epic Yarn’s most notable trait is the ability to play the entire story mode with a friend. A lot of effort was clearly put into this mode and it certainly paid off because the experience is painless and effortless, meaning plenty of fun can be had with a buddy. Playing with a friend also helps the replay value of Epic Yarn because completing certain goals in the story can be achieved in different ways with another adorable Kirby like character on the screen. Needless to say, this is one of the best side-scrolling cooperative experiences in a long time.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is certainly a deceitful game on the surface. Its cute visuals and beautiful game-play make it look like it should be a game for children. There is no doubt that the little ones will have fun with this game, but the same can be said for adults and even the more hardcore of gamers. It is the ability to appreciate the incredible technical achievement that will get the respect of the more serious gamers out there. On top of that, there is no denying the game play is a lot of fun and versatile, bringing a smile to the face of anyone who gives Kirby’s Epic Yarn a play-through.

Technical presentation – 9.5

Graphics – 10.0

Game-play – 7.5

Replay value – 7.0

Final score – 9 / 10

Igor, CeX contributor.

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