The Average Gamer

Kirby’s Epic Yarn Review (Wii)

KirbysEpicYarn_LogoSmallThere’s a crisis in Patch Land. Yin-Yarn the evil sorcerer has ruthlessly taken over and enslaved everyone. Worse still, whole fabric of Patch Land has been unravelled leaving it in pieces. Six pieces if you’re counting. Fortunately, a yarntastic Kirby is on hand to save the day and stitch Patch Land back together.

Ok, the plot to this game is incredibly silly, but once you’ve had your epic task explained to you by the wonderfully named Prince Fluff, it’s time to save the world.

OMG, it’s so fluffy

The overwhelming cuteness hits you as soon as you enter Patch Land. Things look cute, act cute, move in a cute way and are enveloped in a world where everything is all soft and squishy. As you move around, whatever is underfoot gently sags under your weight like a big comfy pillow. Fish wear snorkel masks, enemies run away in fear when you steal their weapons and get dazed when they accidentally run into walls. Everywhere you look there’s something to bring a smile to your face. Kirby even makes a little angry face when attacking enemies. Grrr! I love it when the snowmen freeze Kirby into a tiny ice block if he gets too close to their freezing breath. His little eyes peering back at you inside his temporary icy coffin. It is these little details that make the game a joy to behold. I haven’t been this captivated with the look of a Nintendo game since the magnificent Yoshi’s Story on the N64.
Then almost immediately you’re jumping, floating and bashing around Patch Land under your new moniker bestowed upon you by Prince Fluff – Lord Kirby. You also have a vast assay of skills available, mainly because Kirby’s now made of yarn, like everything else in the world. He can float, bash through walls, lasso enemies and their weapons and turn into a car or a sledge to speed around levels. If you fall/jump into water you suddenly become a submarine. A cute one at that, complete with smile. And then there’s the big transformations. Many of the levels feature a zone in which Kirby can turn into a UFO, train, giant robot, spaceship, shark….Oooh, shark, I loved being a shark. Sharky Kirby was so fast and nimble to control, a bit like Ecco on speed.

Underneath Kirby’s impossibly cute exterior beats the heart of a classic platformer. A simple premise – get to the end of each level using the various platforms, collect gems along the way and look for hidden items. There are 7 areas on offer (Patch Land plus Yin-Yarn’s gaff) each complete with their own boss battle. There’s nothing frenetic about the core gameplay. It’s a nice, relaxing platform game in the mould of Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy. Jump from platform to platform, gawp at the luscious scenery, smile at the cuteness of everything and then amble to the end of the level. Even the music and sound effects wouldn’t be out of place in those games. It’s all very Nintendo.

In addition to the leaping about platforms there’s tricky little gem collecting game which rewards you with a gold medal if you collect enough of them on each level. In true platformer fashion the gems are scattered far and wide across each level. The main problem you encounter is that every time you get hit by an enemy or fall off the bottom of the level you haemorrhage gems everywhere. Once set free, these gems are a pain to retrieve as they seem to have an affinity for spikes/enemies or holes in the level floor. Easy come, easy go as they say. Losing gems is the only real penalty in the whole game as Kirby can’t actually die. Even when you have no gems at all Kirby will just re-materialise within the level. However, losing all your precious gems is quite a heartbreaking experience when it happens, especially right at the end of a level. Gem collecting aside though, playing Kirby is a remarkably relaxing and happy experience.
There’s even a bit of Animal Crossing in the game in the form of flat furnishing. Using the many items you pick up on your travels you can pimp out Kirby’s very own flat. In my game, Kirby’s flat features a giant dinosaur slide, with a circuit board rug taking pride of place in the room :-) Also if you find selected items amongst the levels you can also decorate some of the neighbouring flats. If you get board of exploring then there are hide and seek games your mate Zeke to entertain you. Finding hidden items, decorating flats or finding all of Zeke’s friends has no bearing on the main plot. It’s all just for fun.

A Kirby shoot-em-up. Really?

Later on you come across a couple of shoot-em-up sections. You can’t miss them as they are part of the core levels that you must complete to finish the game. In them Kirby transforms into a cute looking spaceship and takes on the evil hordes in side and vertical scrolling levels. This is proper old school gaming at its best. Evoking memories of both R-Type and Gunhed, the action is frenetic, bullet-soaked and accompanied by some really cheesy music. Screw the rest of the game, Nintendo should release a Kirby shoot-em-up! I’d totally buy it.

That’s not cute

The only thing particularly wrong with Kirby’s Epic Yarn is the unforgiving boss battles at the end of each world. There’s one boss in particular which requires ninja speed reactions to kill. I must have spent about 20 minutes trying to defeat him. Most of this time was wasted waiting for the nano-second during his cycle of attacks during which I could inflict some damage. Whilst none of the boss battles are particularly difficult as you can’t die, they still manage to be both frustrating and time-consuming.
If you are really trying to nit-pick then the level design can be a little uninspiring on occasions and you can complete the game in under 8 hours, which is a bit short. There’s also no real feeling of peril or risk in the absence of a lives system. Almost all the levels are easy to finish as you rarely come across difficult sections. However, there is a decent amount of replay value to the game as there are additional levels to unlock and not forgetting all the gems to collect.

Lord Kirby and Prince Fluff

In what appears to be a dying feature in games, Kirby includes an off-line co-op game. Before you start each level, you are given the choice of 1 or 2 players. In the 2-player mode, one player controls Lord Kirby and the other gets Prince Fluff. With 2 players on the screen it does feel a little like playing Little Big Planet – you have to pay attention to each other. If one player drops off the screen they “die” and are transported back to where the other player is located. This happens as soon as either player drops off the screen, there’s no waiting like Little Big Planet.
You also have the ability to pick up and throw each other around the level. Whilst this is really handy in trying to reach the higher platforms or kill enemies, you do end up chucking your mate into trouble or worse to their death. Most of the time this happens accidentally as you are trying to kill a baddie or jump to another platform. Personally, I found the game harder to play with 2-players, especially during the boss battles as there’s so much going on.

With some of the larger transformations, like the giant robot or the surfer, each player gets to control a different part. In the case of the robot, one player fires and steers the rockets and the other player drives the robot. The rockets can be steered by tilting the Wii remote, which leads to all sorts of crazy rocket trails. Unsurprisingly when two people are controlling the same thing it gets hectic, chaotic and results in a lot of fun as you both try to keep each other alive. Certainly one of the highlights of the whole game for me was the first time I came across the giant robot. Big smiles all round!


One of the cutest games I’ve ever played in my life and one that is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face; the perfect platform game for children and adults alike. You can also play the game together via the 2-player offline co-op mode, but be prepared for a few accidental killing-your-partner moments. This is definitely a game worth buying.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is out now for £30, only on the Nintendo Wii

Curious about the verdict? Read our review policy.