Mechanically Beautiful: Kirby’s Epic Yarn

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“Kirby’s Epic Yarn” is a platforming game released for the Wii in 2010. The story focuses on Kirby’s adventures in Patch Land. Kirby stumbles upon a Metamato and, of course, eats it. The Metamato actually belonged to Yin-Yarn, an evil sorcerer that hails from the world of Patch Land. Using his magical transportational sock, Yin-Yarn banishes Kirby to Patch Land, which has been unraveling in each section of the world. With the help of Prince Fluff, the prince of Patch Land, Kirby must explore this new world and find the seven pieces of magic yarn so Patch World can be knitted together once again.

After reading the plot outline above, the typical gamer would probably see this game as childish. They would be right. “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” is incredibly easy to the point where almost any aged or skilled gamer can play it. Rather than having health or lives, Kirby’s damage is based off of beads, which are collected throughout each level. When Kirby gets hit, he loses beads. When he falls off of the map, he gets carried back up and loses beads. You can never actually die or get a Game Over. You simply keep going until you beat it. The ways of attacking the enemies, including bosses, are also incredibly easy. Unless you try and go back to collect all of the hidden items throughout the game, this game can be beaten in about an hour and a half without difficulty.

 

Source: nintendo.com

Even though this game is incredibly easy, it is one of the most fun, creative, and interactive games I have played in a long time. This game differs from the past games in the Kirby series in numerous ways. As you might have guessed, the entirety of Patch World is based around yarn work and arts and crafts. Kirby himself is transformed into yarn when he enters this new world. This causes his usual powers to become useless. Kirby can no longer inhale enemies or float up in the air, since air passes through his new yarn body. Therefore, he cannot transform into enemies or stay in the air for infinite periods of time. Kirby now attacks enemies by using his yarn whip power, similar to the traditional whip power of past Kirby games. Kirby can whip certain enemies and either unravel them or ball them up to throw at other enemies or to break blocks. Kirby also can use his whip to take weapons from enemies and use the weapons against them. Even though Kirby can no longer gain abilities from enemies, he still has the ability to transform. Double tapping on the right stick to dash causes Kirby to transform into a car and move around as such. Hitting the 2 button while in the air will cause Kirby to turn into a parachute and float to the ground. Kirby can also use his traditional smashing ability when in the air, as well as transform into a submarine while in the water. He can also become a music note, snake, and spinning top. There are also certain levels where Kirby warps into a Super Transformation, including a tankbot, dolphin, and firetruck. These transformations change the style of the game for that period of time. So even though Kirby’s normal abilities are gone, the classic style of the past Kirby games is still there.

Source: joystiq.com

I’m a huge fan of video games with interactive worlds. Often in platforming games, the worlds act as the ground for the character to dash through, rather than something to actually help the character progress in the level. “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” has one of the most interactive and creative worlds that I have ever seen. The idea of a world made out of yarn and patch work is knitted into the levels very cleverly. Kirby must use his whip power to pull zippers (which reveal paths), remove stickers and buttons (which contain treasures or platforms), and grab onto flowers to pull himself up. The game does not function as a traditional “only-hit-the-right-button-never-go-in-another-direction” sidescroller. Kirby goes in all different directions, and must make his way through the world very carefully. Revealing platforms causes Kirby to go behind the knitted area and often can no longer be seen other than a bump behind the patchwork. Kirby must travel through trees, castles, and caves to progress in the level. Kirby can also travel through warp “pockets” than transport him to other areas of the level. These interactive elements of the world add to the game’s refreshing and new design as well as keep Kirby and the player in touch with the surrounding world. There are also collectible items that can be used to decorate Kirby’s apartment. There are other apartments in the complex as well, with each resident character having its own minigame. The design of the game itself is also incredibly adorable. Even in levels with lava or ice, which are normally seen as dangerous or annoying, the game still manages to have an adorable quality about it. This is actually the first game where I’ve voluntarily not killed the enemies when I could have. Throughout each level, you will often see some enemies sleeping on the ground or floating down with umbrellas. The most common enemy in the game, Waddle Dee, can’t even attack Kirby. They just sort of flop on him.

 

Source: kirby.wikia.com

Graphics aside, the game also has one of my favorite soundtracks out of any video game I’ve played. Remixes of classic Kirby songs are included in the game, including the tracks “vs. King Dedede” and “vs. Meta Knight”. There are also original songs in the game as well, which were mostly composed by Tomoya Tomita. The game’s music contributes to each world and level and helps fit the theme. The beginning world, Grass Land, has extremely simple music. The music is also very calming and fits the world well. It serves as a great introduction to the game. The music remains fairly simple throughout most of the game, but it does get more intense as the game progresses. “Lava Landing” is one example of this. The song is named after the level, in which Kirby Super Transforms into a firetruck to douse the fires as he makes his way up an erupting volcano. Even though the level is easy, the music is quite dramatic. It’s filled with layers of pianos that create a dramatic and building effect. The build finally erupts with a beautiful, higher piano section. I often listen to this piece outside of playing the game. Other, less simple piano pieces include “Halberd”, “Butter Building”, “Outer Rings”, and “vs. Yin-Yarn”. Even though most of the pieces are fairly simple, the overall soundtrack serves as an important element in the game that also can stand on its own.

Every aspect of “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” is done creatively and beautifully. Even the doors to each level are creative and innovative, as well as interactive. While the game may be seen as childish and easy, it is still a fun game to play and one that will have you smiling the entire time.

You can buy the game here.