E3 2010: Kirby's Epic Yarn first impressions

Nintendo's cutest game to date? Could be

At this risk of spewing pro-Nintendo hyperbole, Epic Yarn is the cutest, most charming game on the Wii. Even our bitterly aging gamer hearts melted at the game’s adorable visual style, which presents the entire world as one made of yarn and other soft, fuzzy fabrics. Kirby himself exists only as a piece of malleable yarn that shape-shifts and stretches as needed – for example, he can whip out a piece of string and snag enemies, or transform into a car when dashing or a sub while underwater, or a huggable parachute to slow your descent. The constant motion and bounciness is quite infectious, as if daring you not to smile.

His whip attack also latches on to certain points of the level, enabling him to yank entire chunks of the world into different shapes or positions. The cloth-like effect of a castle collapsing into a pile of glop isn’t a showstopping moment, but it’s damn effective at making this fashion-minded universe feel more unique than most of the other games of the show.

All those effects can be seen in the trailer above though, so the only lasting impression I can leave is that Epic Yarn is fun. If the game looked like every other Kirby title, yes we’d be singing a different tune. But as it is, the graphics feed directly into the classic 2D gameplay in a perfect union, making it paradoxically one of the freshest and old-schooliest games of the show. The two-player mode, which lets you play the entire game together, furthers that way-back vibe, and also works its way into some of the level design – snagging the other player with yarn and tossing him through enemies or breakable objects, for instance.

It’s also nice to see Nintendo mixing Kirby up – his past few games have been pretty stale (Air Ride Squeak Squad and the Super Star SNES compilation) so it’s great that Kirby gets to have another Canvas Curse-level outing.

Epic Yarn is slated for a Holiday 2010 release, part of Nintendo’s strongest winter lineup in years. Donkey Kong, Metroid, Kirby, plus GoldenEye and NBA Jam? It’s like we’re back in the SNES glory days.

Jun 16, 2010

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