Countless games promise the world and then inevitably fail to deliver the goods. We’re constantly told some game will have the “biggest open world” or “hundreds of hours of gameplay,” but how often do you feel like your expectations were fully met? A delightful exception, Epic Yarn comes through on every claim it’s made over the past few months, offering a memorable 2D platforming experience that ranks right up there with the greatest Nintendo titles of the past. Obviously Epic Yarn’s aspirations are lower than the next big FPS or MMO, but that doesn’t change the fact developer Good Feel gave us precisely what it advertised, plus laid on the charm so thick it’s forced a smile on every GamesRadar editor’s face during the review process. Epic Yarn is the happy-faced antidote to the M-rated, gun-toting glut we’re currently drowning in.
Kirby’s always been Nintendo’s cutest character, but in a focus-tested, manufactured kind of way. His rotund puffball stature was designed for maximum effect - Epic Yarn, on the other hand, is aesthetically inspired and works for every single “d’awww” it gets. Any given moment of the game is laced with convincing storybook-like fabrics that both look amazing and function as an interactive part of the level. Pieces will flap in the breeze, unzip and tumble to the ground, or, in a particularly cool effect, crinkle up as you yank chunks of the world around with your stringy whip weapon. And would you believe each of these themed levels (which come in lava, ice, tropical and techno-space flavors) all look and behave differently? How amazing is it that a game in which you learn no additional moves can remain fresh, vibrant and compelling the entire time you play? You just run, jump, swing and lasso stuff from beginning to end and it’s effing magical the whole time.
Above: Kirby doesn’t consume enemies and steal powers this time - he morphs along with the world, changing shape nearly every time he engages in a different action
The unique properties don’t stop there - would you believe it’s impossible to die in Epic Yarn? It’s true, there are no lives and there is no way to actually see a Game Over screen. Now before the hardcore maniacs (that would include us, btw) raise their hands in protest, understand what the game is trying to do. The goal of each level is to make it to the end with as many beads (think Mario coins) as possible, plus the three hidden treasures tucked away in various crannies. If you’re hit, you lose some beads. Fall in a pit, you’re gonna lose a crapload of beads. But you’ll never die, never have to re-start the level or dread having to play some specific part again. You simply move on and keep enjoying the visual splendor at work.
Player two can hop in at any point on the world map and control Prince Fluff, Kirby’s azure counterpart in Epic Yarn. Both control the same, and can snag and toss each other to higher ground - a key strategy when trying to collect all the game’s treasure. We mostly played the game solo, but found the co-op mode to be just as fun, and in some cases a noticeably different experience. Certainly not a clustershart like the four-player mode in New Super Mario Bros.
Above: On the left is Kirby’s mech in solo, the right is the co-op version. Note the extra fist and lovely crown on the right version - that’s added functionality AND presentation!
So if you want to play with your kids, or want to wean someone (parents, non-gamey significant others etc) off the casual crap they’ve been playing on Wii, this is the game to use. Two player co-op with no death, arresting graphics and a slight competitive edge (who can get the most beads?) should be enough to make anyone forget the piles of $20 shovelware suffocating the aisles. Conversely, the emphasis on performance makes Epic Yarn not about avoiding death, but avoiding being hit at all - how’s that for a hardcore angle?
Above: But don’t think for a second that every level is cakewalk
If you’re really dedicated, you can try to earn a high rank on each boss, which opens up additional, harder levels in each world. Again, if you’re playing for pure fun, you can run through the main levels in about five hours and have a great time; if high scores and challenge are on your mind, go for the medals and unlock all the additional content. Truly something for everyone.