Tuesday, 22 June 2010

E3: Kirby's Epic Yarn

Each year I pray for a new Kirby Wii game and each year my hopes are dashed. Thank God then that at this E3, Nintendo re-embraced the hardcore crowd by unveiling a brand spanking new adventure for the pink puffball. The three and a half year wait since the Wii’s release may just have been worth it as Kirby’s Epic Yarn is arguably one of the most original looking titles on the console. 

Before the naysayers dismiss this as more of the same with better graphics, it’s important to emphasize just how different this new game really is. The original concept was a more traditional affair, a sort of 2.5-D Kirby which I spoke about in a previous post and can be viewed below:

As you can see, while potentially very fun and frantic, it didn’t appear to offer anything radically new which is, I suspect, the reason this approach was ultimately scrapped. Epic Yarn on the other hand is anything but traditional. While it plays as a standard 2D platformer, the real innovation is the way in which the world is represented; both the setting and its inhabitants are rendered entirely in fabric. Not only is it a veritable treat for the eyes with some amazingly fluid and expressive animation, it opens up some incredibly inventive gameplay. In the trailer we see Kirby unzipping backgrounds to expose hidden areas and crumpling up the scenery as he pulls platforms closer. 

For anyone who has never played a Kirby game, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. Like Mario, it is pure platforming joy. I actually returned to Kirby’s Adventure on Virtual Console last night and after 18 years it still works like a dream. Some people are unhappy that Epic Yarn has abandoned his ability to copy enemies’ powers which has always been a staple of the series, but I’m really notthat concerned – and I say that as a Kirby nut. He still retains his transformative skills (a parachute, a spaceship and a car have all been glimpsed) and as the hugely underrated Kirby Power Paintbrush showed, it is possible to change key elements while still remaining faithful to the things that made it so great in the first place.

Greatest Kirby game ever? I’d say so.

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