We’ve been in love with Epic Yarn since its cheerful E3 debut, so the fact our latest round of hands-on time left us brimming with joy should come as no surprise. We already knew the game’s storybook-like world was immensely charming and destined to be one of the most alluring games in Wii’s entire library, but we had a sneaking suspicion the actual gameplay might be too straightforward. Thankfully that’s not the case, as Epic Yarn is loaded with rewards and incentives to keep playing.
Above: But yeah, Patch Land’s gorgeous environments are still the star
Besting enemies, discovering hidden areas and completing levels all net Kirby beads, which can then be spent in Quilty Square, the game’s huggable hub world that houses various fuzzy denizens. Kirby has a living space in Quilty Square that can be filled with furniture and other decorations, each of which can be altered, cloned or customized to varying degrees. Further pieces of knick-knackery can be bought in the shops or unlocked in the game, along with new fabric patterns and other oddities found in your travels.
Even though you can’t share your room design with online friends, there’s still a certain delight in creating Kirby a swanky pad. And if you’re really dedicated, you can purchase apartments for tenants – if you meet their needy requirements, they’ll set you on smaller tasks (we won’t call them minigames) that’ll earn you even more rare items for your house. Yes, it sounds silly and maybe even like a low rent Animal Crossing, but as an extra wrinkle in an already lovely game, it’s a fun side quest to dabble in.
Above: Kirby and player two’s Prince Fluff navigate Dino Land
But the bulk of the game will still be spent running through each deliciously saccharine world. We stomped through Grass Land, Hot Land, Treat Land and the above Dino Land, each loaded with theme-specific obstacles, enemies and bosses. Hot Land, for instance, features a special transformation in which Kirby (and Fluff, if you’re in co-op) morph into fire trucks and spray stringy water to douse some brilliantly rendered fire. Too cute!
Above: It’s so friggin’ adorable! String water, people!
Co-op isn’t required, but in our experience it really added to the fun. If you’re together, those transformation attacks gain an extra feature (like an added attack or slight control alterations), plus the added help will come in handy while trying to finish each level with the most beads, gems and medals as possible. Completing levels with gold medals, for instance, could open up previously invisible areas of the land map. Like so:
Above: The Hot Land map, just as a new area is unfolding. Notice the smoky area above the stringy genie – that won’t open up until you’ve met some other requirements
Aside from cuteness, the overriding feeling we had while playing Epic Yarn was “relaxation.” It’s such a smooth, inviting, easygoing time that it’s the perfect counterbalance to all the M-rated gruff-offs coming out in the exact same timeframe. Get this – you can’t even die! At worst you finish the level with fewer beads and maybe have to try it again for a better finish. Don’t want to? That’s cool, just move along and you’ll still see the boss (which yeah, you do have to beat that).
Above: Cute, simple fun presented in a living children’s book
Epic Yarn hits October 17, and you can check the rest of our screens here. Obviously I can’t wait, but I do want to reiterate that the level-to-level stuff is still straightforward, just so damn pretty. It’s possible the cuteness overload could be too much, but if so, you might be a heartless monster with no soul.