Kirby is, if nothing else, a charming little bastard. I mean, he is if you like sugar and spice and all things nice (and in this incarnation, wool). If you're the sort of person who squeals with excitement at things. If you put bows in your hair and shop (*shudder*) in Cath Kidston.
If you don't mind your teeth falling out of your mouth because a videogame has somehow managed to stuff every empty cavity of your body with sugar and it's diffusing into your bloodstream. Maybe if you're seven years old. And if you combine all of the aforementioned groups, you actually do get a reasonably-sized cross section of society. So, statistically, Kirby's a charming little bastard.
In Kirby's Epic Yarn
, you see, the already cute little fella has dialled the cute factor up to 10 (and a big bit). The fact that he was little, round and pink wasn't enough. Now he's made of (clue's in the title) yarn.
This comes after he ate what looked like a harmless tomato but turned out to actually be the Metamato, favourite magic salad fruit of the evil wizard Yin-Yarn. The magician got a bit peeved and sent Kirby down a magic sock and ultimately to Patchland. Patchland is in trouble because the wizard has taken the magic thread holding it together and Kirby, along with his new mate Prince Fluff, sets out to set things right.
Nintendo has certainly done things to move the Kirby franchise forward, even if it hasn't exactly gone all-out. While Epic Yarn
diverges from some of the mechanics of previous games, it's still a cutesy sidescroller and, rather than going to town with the Wii's motion control functionality, it uses the Wii Remote held side-on.
But lets get to the shiny (fluffy) new stuff first. For one, Kirby's signature move – inhaling enemies with his mighty lungs – is gone. He doesn't have much of a body now and enemies just blow straight through him. Instead, however, he can use his whip-type-thingie to unravel enemies, either making them fall apart entirely or rolling them into a ball which he can then throw.
Kirby's ability to float wherever he pleases has also been replaced. Now, he swings off buttons to gain altitude and transforms into a parachute or a weight to make his way to the ground. At various points in the game Kirby is also transformed into various not-Kirby-shaped things such as UFOs, rockets and dune buggies.
So, not totally-traditional Kirby
, you see? At the same time, it's hardly a giant leap forward, either. It's not that anyone really wants the wheel reinventing when it comes to Kirby, there's just something a bit deflating (I'm not sorry for the pun) about playing a AAA game that sticks to a format designed for games machines built 20-odd years ago.
It's certainly a well-designed package, though. The cutesy aesthetic will either appeal to you or it won't. You can figure that out with three seconds and a screenshot and nothing I can say here will swing you one way or the other. It's difficult not to be impressed by the care that's gone into the look and feel of the game whatever your personal take on its style, though. Although someone at developer Good-Feel clearly played and enjoyed LittleBigPlanet
at some point, the similarity is fairly shallow and the game's look really does set it apart from its peers. In short, it's very pretty.