Review: Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn
Posted 19 Mar 2019 at 19:25 by Sam C Gittins
Kirby has certainly starred in some strange games in his time even since the SNES days with Kirby's Dream Course a bizarre take on mini golf with Kirby as the ball. Then there's Kirby's Air Ride the off-beat racer in which you race against your opponents on an automatically accelerating warp-star. And more recently there was Kirby's Canvas Curse in which you guide the pink puff-ball through levels by drawing the path with your stylus. But this latest title surely tops all of the above with the arrival of Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn a game set in a world made entirely of patchwork and where Kirby himself becomes quite literally stitched into his surroundings.
It all starts innocently enough when one day in Dream Land our hero spots one of his favourite foods - a tomato - resting atop a bush, thinking nothing of it Kirby eats the red fruit when suddenly the sorcerer Yin-Yarn appears claiming that it's his magic Metatomato and in revenge he absorbs Kirby into a magic sock which transports him to a strange land. Here he notices a blue character being chased by a yarn monster and so using the power of the Metatomato he turns into a car and saves the character who turns out to be Prince Fluff, who is in dire need of help in restoring Patch-Land which is slowly being unravelled by the evil sorcerer Yin Yarn; and so Kirby vows to help stitch the land back together by collecting the missing pieces of magic yarn and the adventure begins.
Is that a subtle Balloon Fight reference from Waddle Dee? I like to think so.
After the story unfolds you are dropped into Quilty Square which acts as the games hub and contains Patch Plaza where you can track your progress in the game through all the collectables you've obtained – more on that later – plus Kirby's own flat which gets given to him early on in the game by Dom Woole and gives you a blank canvas to furnish in whatever way you see fit which will be explained in due course.
The main attraction here though is Patch Castle which is the tutorial level that explains the basics of what you need to know about this wonderfully woven world, here you'll be pulling off patchwork pieces with the simple press of a button to reveal hidden beads and items which count towards your overall grade at the end. It's at this point that you can appreciate how wonderfully simple yet effective the control scheme is; you can simply press left or right quickly and Kirby will transform into a car! Two taps on the jump button will turn him into a parachute and one move that should be familiar to fans... double tapping down on the d-pad will of course turn Kirby into a block.
But I've only just scraped the surface here as it's when you enter Grass Land that everything really starts coming into its own as you pull apart your enemies into balls of yarn and use them to progress, pulling out buttons sewn into the very level itself, swinging from patchwork trees to shake down beads... everything about this game feels so natural.
Devilish Mode soon becomes more of an annoyance...
There are many genuinely brilliant moments too like pulling your first zip across to reveal another part of the level underneath or using the huge Tank-bot to level entire sections of the actual level itself and raking in a decent amount of beads by taking out many enemies in to process; this game is essentially just pure fun and it's not shy at showing it especially in Melody Town - this reviewers favourite level - where you can make music by driving over keyboards and swinging across harps, pure magic.
Fun it most definitely is but there are a few objectives, you are scored on how many beads you collect on each stage which will give you either a bronze, silver or gold medal at the end plus a patch and it's these patches which open up a new stage so it certainly pays to do well. The beads you collect each time you play are totalled up as they serve another purpose because throughout the game Dom Woole – basically the Tom Nook of this land – will ask you for copious amounts of beads so that he can add extra flats to Quilty Square, what's more is that you can then use specific furniture items that you find on your travels to decorate the flats in order to attract new tenants.
...see what I mean? Give me those beads back!
Extra missions become available after redecorating flats from the tenants who move in, these basically revolve around completing a slightly tweaked version of a stage you've already cleared under specific conditions and within a set amount of time; more of these open up as you progress offering a myriad of new ways to play revolving around such themes as bead collecting and enemy defeating. Shops open up in Quilty Square too, one allows you to buy fabric while the other sells you furniture all for your precious beads of course; so as you can see there is a lot to do in the game and it has a lot of potential replay value as you'll need a lot of beads if you're to see and do everything there is plus you can earn a high 'streak' by attempting to complete levels without getting hit but moreover you will want to replay levels purely for the enjoyment.
In keeping with the Kirby tradition there are many transformations throughout the game including a UFO that allows you to catch items and enemies in your tractor-beam and expel them as a lightning attack, a mole inspired Digger that allows you to dig your way through stuffing filled levels, a Fire Engine which has a tilt controlled water cannon plus my personal favourite; the Dolphin which controls so beautifully throughout the underwater levels. Best of all though there is a spaceship transformation which effectively changes parts of the game into a side-scrolling shooter; all of these sections make for a brilliant diversion to the platform-based levels and serve to enhance the game even further.
DededeGogogo! The new runner game coming soon to mobile. We laugh now but...
Visually this title is in a league of its own owing much to its unique graphical style which is a stroke of genius that works on so many levels, the way in which each stage is - quite literally - seamlessly stitched together never fails to impress and keeps you playing just to see what's going to happen next. Even more impressive is the way that due to the themes of each part of Patch-Land you'd think that the stages would play largely to certain expectations; for instance you have a lava- themed level but having actual volcanoes that can be tied up into bags is a genuine first and it's these small surprises around each corner that make Kirby's Epic Yarn such a joy to play.
Not only does the game look rich and vibrant throughout but it sounds absolutely astounding as well thanks to a spectacularly well devised soundtrack that manages to capture the theme of each area within Patch-Land to such a pitch-perfect degree that will leave your ears in a state of ecstasy. The predominately piano-based themes with many expertly selected accompaniments manage to perfectly convey a sense of wonder throughout that creates a sustained joyful and uplifting mood that stays with you as you play; plus not only does the soundtrack contain mostly original workings that are fantastic in their own right but there are also several new versions of classic themes from the franchise that will delight fans and newcomers alike.
There 'aint no escaping Meta Knight once he's got a bead on you.
As aforementioned there are plenty of collectables to obtain, three per level in-fact consisting of two room items and one soundtrack CD which are not essential to completing the main story but if you're the type of gamer who likes to go for full completion then you'll need them as certain ones are needed to redecorate flats which in turn attracts tenants who will unlock the extra challenges for you. Being able to decorate your own flat is a nice feature and is the perfect way to show off not only room items but also the many fabulous fabrics that you obtain throughout your epic adventure which can be adorned as either wallpaper or carpet.
Humour plays an understated role throughout as there are many subliminal touches and details that will make you smile in unexpected ways such as the noise emitted from the duck in Toy Tracks or the way that the game is narrated in true storybook fashion creating unintentional moments of hilarity. Best of all though is some of the dialogue contained within, from things that the characters say to descriptions of items that will put a simple smile on your face on many an occasion; I shan't spoil any here but they are in there waiting to be discovered and they add an extra layer of delight to the proceedings.
Collect everything and you too can have a cool crib like 'dat 'dere Kirbeh!
Sadly the full co-op mode which originally had the second player takes control of Prince Fluff is no longer in the game, which is a shame as it was a decent selling point in the original Wii version. So instead we have new Ravel abilities which includes a giant yarn ball to attack enemies, a wire sword which slices through anything and the nylon ability which can generate wind for jumping higher and collecting beads; while you can get these normally during gameplay, if you use certain Kirby amiibo figures then you can also obtain them this way as well, though I didn't really dabble with this much.
There is a harder difficulty in the form of Devilish Mode where you have to avoid getting hit by a devil as you play each stage normally and while it is a challenge to avoid getting hit even once (you're allowed up to five hits before you have to start again) it becomes more of an inconvenience at times, so I'd only advise playing this mode if you've already seen the best of what this game has to offer because the accompanying theme (good though it is) of the devil overrides the main music as well.
Is it a UFO? Nah, it's just Kirby going about his business, sucking up those button bees.
Of course it wouldn't be a Kirby title without some mini-games thrown in for good measure, so this time around you have Dededegogogo which is basically a runner type game where you have to either slide under or smash through obstacles so that you can get through the stage as quickly as is possible for the great King Dedede. Alternatively there is Slash and Bead which stars Meta Knight and has you flying through stages collecting Fuse Beads while you slash enemies to ribbons. Both are interesting twists on the gameplay but you're unlikely to return to them for very long once you've beaten them.
The longevity of the game is actually pretty decent when you keep replay value in mind, also I'd say that it can take fifteen to twenty hours to obtain everything in the game which is certainly respectable. Though if you've played the game before then you could quite easily halve this estimate if you no where everything is already, though I was surprised by how many things I had forgotten since playing this charming title on the Wii back in the day.
Kirby's response to there no longer being a co-op mode.
You might be wishing for some in-depth technical comparison between the original Wii version and this 3DS port but you won't get that here, all I can say it that I've played both versions, the base game of Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn is still enjoyable, plus it runs fluidly on aging - but beloved - portable hardware; you really can't ask much more than that.
While it's true that Epic Yarn may have started life as an original IP, bringing Kirby into the fray and then tailoring the game specifically to tie-in with the much loved franchise was a bold move indeed and one that makes so much sense which is all the more evident the further you progress in the game. Vibrant levels featuring endearing enemies, terrific transformations and the ability to disappear through doors and behind the very fabric itself... it's things like this that not only make the game but they make it a Kirby game and he's not only made his mark on this title but rather stitched it in permanently.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Never before has a game been so uniquely captivating, charming and simultaneously fun for its absolute entirety; truly an epic experience which every self-respecting gamer should own. Grab this portable port if you've yet to play this charming Kirby title as the main game is still very much worth taking the time to play through.
Beautifully crafted visuals
Masterful musical score
Well written humour
The fun comes to an end when the game does
Extra modes are OK at their best...
...superfluous at their worst
No Co-op mode