Games for Lunch: Kirby's Epic Yarn

Posted by Kyle Orland (October 15, 2010)

Games for Lunch chronicles the first hour of a different game every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each hour ends with the answer to the only question that matters at that point: Do I want to keep playing? For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions.

Developers: HAL, Good-Feel
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Oct. 17, 2010
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: They somehow made Kirby even cuter? Madness!

0:00 I’ve been a Kirby fan since the original Game Boy Dream Land up through the excellent Kirby Super Star on the SNES. I’m intrigued by the super-cute, stringy art style I’ve seen in this one, but I’m not convinced it will spice up what is essentially pretty simple, kid-focused gameplay.

0:01 After a good 15 seconds creating a save file, the title screen appears with Yarn Kirby plopping down as a trapezoidal weight, then reforming into his normal pink puffy self. Very light piano music in the background. One Player.

0:02 “Welcome to Dream Land, a kingdom famous for peace and quiet. It’s the perfect little land, if you like that sort of thing.” An evil sorcerer is turning people in to yarn. Kirby runs in to him and sucks up the red tomato he’s holding before he can introduce himself. A white sock on the sorcerer's belt sucks Kirby up and transforms him into a hollow, yarn version of himself. Quote of the moment: “This grass feels funny... it feels like pants.”

0:03 Kirby saves a yarn boy being chased by a yarn monster by transforming into a yarn car and driving away. Man, I am really going to be tired of the word “yarn” by the end of this hour.

0:05 The yarn boy has run off, leaving me all alone to traipse around outside of Patch Castle. My feet turn in to springs when I jump, and tapping the jump button again in midair turns me in to a gently floating parachute. Tapping the 1 button sends out a starry yarn whip with a snap. The animation is absolutely wonderful. So full of life.

0:06 In to the first level, now. Lots of floating gems to collect, which is a bit weird for a Kirby game. I can use my whip to pick up blocks and enemies and turn them into little balls of yarn, which I can hurl at stuff to create some nice, yarny explosions. The world looks simply amazing in motion.

0:07 I’m glad Kirby can throw stuff upwards, but when I try to throw down I just turn into a yarn weight and drop on down with a thud. I guess the effect is similar.

0:08 I tap up to walk through a door and hop into the background. As I move around here, I appear a s a little lump behind the wallpaper of the world. CUTE!

0:09 Pulling red tabs with the whip can reveal secrets or scrunch up the background to reveal platforms. Hooking it onto starry points uses it like a grappling hook to swing up to nearby platforms. A lot of variety on display already, and the game never stops the action to explain anything -- just uses some subtle animations in the background to teach.

0:11 I ring a bell with my whip to finish the level, Kirby and yarn boy do the traditional end-of-level Kirby dance. I got 708 beads, a 99 “streak” and three treasures. Loving the gentle acoustic guitar here. So relaaaaaaxing.

0:12 Prince Fluff, the yarn boy, thanks me and begins to tell me about Yin-Yarn the sorcerer, when a three eyed blob of yarn tries to eat him! Kirby smashes it from above and finds a shimmering piece of magic yarn amidst the destruction. Prince Fluff uses the magic yarn to tie together two massive land masses and open up a whole new area to rid of the sorcerer's influence. Kirby, “always eager to help,” decides to help.

0:14 Dom Woole is a mustachioed yarn ball and the manager of Quilty Court. He invites me into Apt. 101 and offers to let me stay there. He gives me the gift of a barcalounger. “We’ll discuss the rent later.” Wow, best landlord EVER!

0:16 I can use the Wii Remote to furnish the apartment with the items I found in the first level. I put the throne on the ceiling and the chandelier on the floor because I am JUST SO WACKY!

0:17 Off to Fountain Gardens. I’m zooming along, wrapping up enemies and revealing secrets like I’ve been doing it for years. The controls feel tighter than average Kirby game. Less sluggish.

0:19 Just bumped into my first enemy, a roly-poly Waddle Dee, but it doesn’t actually hurt me in any way. He just bounces off harmlessly. As I stand there, I watch Waddle Dee continue to dive at me, often landing flat on his face with an squeak. OMG, SO ADORABLE I AM GOING TO DIE!

0:20 Just used my grappling hook swing to shake down a bunch of gems on a fabric tree. Even the backgrounds are full of life here.

0:22 It might just be me, but the little passage through a tubeway that just burped me out through the open mouth of an animated cloud reminded me a little too much of a birthing canal. It’s... it’s probably just me.

0:24 Two Waddle Dees lean against each other, asleep under a heart-shaped set of floating gems. D’awwwww.

0:25 Just completed a section where, for no apparent reason, I transformed into a giant Kirby-shaped tank. I could tilt remote to aim my mouth, which could shoot missiles at a bevy of floating and bomb-launching enemies. One bomb actually hit, leading me to drop a lot of gems and... immediately pick them all back up again. Nice way to break up the action.

0:26 Finished the level with 2090 beads, a 234 “streak” and all three collectible treasures, it seems. I wish I knew what that “streak” meant. I also got a Butterfly Patch, which I throw on to the world map to open a new stage, Flower Fields. The yarn butterflies flying around the entrance to said level are possibly even cuter than the rest of the game.

0:29 Flower Fields is full of grappling hooks and and gem-filled flower cylinders. If this is what the world looks like when it’s under attack by an evil sorcerer, I’d hate to see how serene it is during peacetime. I mean... it’s pretty serene as it is!

0:32 A dandelion seed just turned into a floating grapple point that I can gently ride to climb a cliff. EXTREME!

0:34 The game is very forgiving with my aim when I try to whip at the grapple points. In fact, everything about
this game so far has been incredibly forgiving. I thought I would find this annoying, but I really don’t mind. The
game has withered away my defenses with its cuteness. It’s like video game Ambien.

0:36 Kirby has turned into a yarn UFO now, because why not. He flies around with some momentum, capture blocks and enemies with a tractor beam and storing up energy to release a huge electro-spark. I love the sound effect when the UFO bounces off a wall. BA-BOING!

0:38 4243 beads and a 317 streak for that level. Seems like Path Land is under the threat of hyperinflation!

0:39 Dom Woole says he’s in “the most dire of pickle straits!” He asks me to spiff up his apartment so new tenants can move in. This means using the Remote to place furniture in some really obvious shadow outlines. I don’t know how anyone over the age of 4 would enjoy this portion of the game.

0:41 So the new tenant in this furnished apartment invites me to a game of hide-and-seek in Fountain Gardens. I have to find five little monkey guys hiding throughout the level in three minutes. They kind of duck their heads out of little bits of the environment, then duck away just after I spot them. Pretty simple this time through, but seems like a nice excuse to revisit levels and explore a bit more.

0:44 Oh jeez, now Woole needs another favor... a loan of 10,000 beads to add a new floor to his building. Man, this guy is needy.

0:45 Throwing an alarm clock patch wakes a sleeping underground yarn bear, who stretches and roars to create rainbow falls. I... I was not expecting that.

0:46 A gentle water current sweeps me into my first bottomless pit. Instead of losing a life or restarting the level or even going back to a check point, a little yarn fairy thing just lifts me out and places me gingerly on solid ground. I drop some gems in the process, but I jsut pick them up again quickly. MAN, this game is forgiving.

0:47 I guess those harmless Waddles Dees aren’t so harmless... a long stream of them just bumped me enough to stop me from getting a collectible star before it fell off into a pit. NOOOOOOOO!

0:50 Spin Boarder Kirby is my latest transformation -- he looks like a cross between a surfer and a helmeted snowboarder. He rides the current forward automatically as I jump and spin to bounce off enemies and collect lines of gems floating about. I miss the timing a few times but still collect more gems than I know what to do with.

0:52 Back in town, Woole’s brothers have set up furniture and fabric shops for more home furnishing. Wow, I’m trying to imagine how I could care less. Nope, I can’t even imagine it.

0:54 Big Bean Vine is primarily a vertical, climbing stage, full of little umbrella’d Waddle Dees that I can step on as platforms. Other Waddle Dees sprout balloons that I can stand atop and ride until they slowly deflate. Some pretty easy jumping challenges here, and some nice integration of gems into the background art.

0:57 I have a surprising amount of trouble with a giant slug atop the clouds. I try to catch the dust he spits in mid air, but I keep missing and getting hit instead. I blame the cuteness for lowering my skills.

0:59 I really should comment on how strong the level design has been so far. It does a good job of gently guiding you to secrets and collectibles without shoving them in your face.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? It’s not the super-hard platformer I usually prefer these days -- just the opposite in fact -- but I can see busting it out and playing it with my wife after a hard day.

This review was based on a retail version provided by the publisher.

Check out hundreds of archived Games for Lunch reviews on the official Games for Lunch blog.

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