Kirby Doesn’t Suck:
Kirby’s Epic Yarn was a beautiful, innovative game that completely passed me by when it came out on the Wii in 2011, so when I got the chance to play a spruced up version on one of my favourite consoles, I jumped at it. Nintendo have been doling out re-releases, remasters and remakes aplenty on both the Switch and the 3DS, and whilst not all our made equal, Extra Epic Yarn is one of the most welcome to date.
Kirby, a pink puffball who is famous for his ability to suck up enemies and steal their skills, has that very skill taken from him when a nuisance of a wizard zaps him into a bundle of yarn. The whole world seems to have been afflicted by the same curse, so when Kirby bumps into an all new blue buddy, he does what any good hero would do and resolves to fix this stringy state of affairs.
Kirby’s story is as traditionally hands-off as ever, giving you the faintest of motives and pretty much lets the gameplay do the heavy lifting from there. It’s certainly not a bad thing, and the few cutscenes and story beats that are present are as adorable as one might expect a Kirby game made of yarn to be.
Kirby games are always fairly easy affairs, but the true joy – especially for older games – comes with poking and pulling the colourful worlds and unearthing huge amounts of collectibles. That same balance is here in Extra Epic Yarn, with plenty of achievements to chase per level, including grabbing a bunch of gems, finding three hidden treasures and even running a challenge mode that asks you to hold on to as many pieces of star (Kirby’s answer to a health wheel) as possible.
That last one is an all new addition to Extra Epic Yarn called Devilish Mode – a feature I relished as I raced through the game grabbing as many goodies as possible. Essentially adding some much needed extra challenge, Devilish mode sends endless enemies at you through wormholes, and it’s up to you to fend them off and try to stay as healthy as possible for bonus rewards at the end of each level. Being able to access this mode straight away was a nice change from the usual ‘play a level once to unlock extra features’ shtick that causes any game to get real old real fast.
It was the extra kick that kept me coming back to Kirby, and as you collect all the treasures from the world you can use them in the hub to furnish NPCs homes. This in turn unlocks extra mini games, and the title has a really good gameplay loop as a result. There’s a steady stream of unlockables, the game organically shifts pace and you never feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over again.
Because Extra Epic Yarn is on a handheld compared to its console counterpart, you might think the graphics would have taken a hit, but it’s quite a negligible difference, if any. The cute, tangible aesthetic of Kirby’s woollen world is as adorable as ever, and the smart use of Kirby’s new whip sees these levels shift and morph realistically. It often feels like a little miniature world that you could reach in and tug at the strings – which is why I was surprised to see no 3D features here. I know Nintendo are moving past them in general now, but 2.5D platformers always benefit from them so well.
Apart from that slight disappointment, the package is pretty stellar. The beautiful score fits the visuals and reminded me of plenty of other Kirby games whilst also crafting a unique feel all its own.
If you need to have the success of Kirby’s Epic Yarn proven to you, just check out the last game in the pseudo-trilogy that’s wrapping up with this week’s Yoshi game – Yoshi’s Crafted World. Along with Yoshi’s Woolly World, developer Good Feel have proven that they are masters of the unique aesthetic. More than this, however, they’re showing an understanding for both Kirby and Yoshi games with fantastic gameplay full of fresh and fun twists. Epic Yarn may be nearing its ten year anniversary, but this trip back proves it’s yet another timeless Nintendo game. If you missed it the first time around, do yourself a favour and rectify that immediately.