PixlChatter: Kirby's Epic Yarn Part One
Prince Fluff's Prosaic Thread
Join Kathrine and Jason R as they talk about the latest Kirby title.
Kathrine: I'm not sure how far we'll get, but in the eternal words of Mario, here we go!
Jason: Not enough "o's" in that go. Here we goooo!
Kathrine: That's too many.
Jason: Oh well. Somewhere in-between. So, I've played Kirby's Epic Yarn.
Kathrine: Finally! And did you beat it?
Jason: Beat it as in get past the first boss? Ok, ok, I didn't play all of the bonus stages.
Kathrine: You were so excited about this game at E3, and you haven't even beaten it yet?
Jason: I played most of the bonus stages. But I've had too many other games to play and review! So in probably two worlds in the middle, all the extra stages weren't played. Not that I don't plan to go back and play them over various winter breaks.
Kathrine: Before you played it, what was it that made it so exciting for you?
Jason: I've never been to E3 before, and so one day, quite some time ago in June... I was in LA, minding my own business, and Nintendo just happened to decide to hold a press conference in the very building I had been chilling out in for the morning. And at the press conference, Nintendo said a lot of things. One of those things was Kirby's Epic Yarn.
Kathrine: I regret asking you this question.
Jason: Alongside saying the name of the game, they showed a video, reminiscent of Yoshi's Story, in truth. And so later on, I was scoping out LA's Convention Center, and I noticed a Kirby patch. That's right. A patch with Kirby on it. Only it wasn't a patch. It was a sticker. And it wasn't just Kirby. It was Kirby made of yarn! And so I asked a kind fellow standing by a video monitor "How do I get one of these stickers?!" He replied, "Play Kirby's Epic Yarn." And I did. Immediately on playing, I noticed a few things. The first? The game looked smooth and detailed. More so than most 2D titles, and more so than just about any 3D title I can imagine. Then I noticed pretty quickly it was possible to have Kirby jump on the crowned blue guy's head. And, well, he could jump on Kirby, too. Not only that, but it's possible to pick up either character and throw them. Let's not get into that now.
The point was, it was a game built for two people to play through together, and just use whatever was in the stage as a playground of sorts. There weren't lifebars, though there were beads, and the enemies seemed more like passive obstacles than anything else. Most things were made out of yarn or beads, or even zippers, household items, and given the smoothness of it all, as well as the lack of health and the "playgroundness" aspect of the stages, I made one conclusion: This was a game absolutely anyone could pick up and play with a friend or a family member, and just have fun playing it. There. Eloquent, yes?
Kathrine: A bit more than we were asking for, but whatevers. The thing that stuck out to me from watching the trailer was interacting with the environments. When I saw Kirby whip a button and pull a piece of the cloth-like background toward him, I couldn't help but smile.
Jason: Yup, the trees with buttons you can latch onto, so Kirby can swing back and forth. And when he unzips part of a stage to change it?
Kathrine: Right, that was neat too. The trailer showed a lot of different things like that.
Jason: Probably nearly one in every scene.
Kathrine: But when I played the game, I felt the interaction was used a little less than I would have liked.
Jason: Ah, I can see how someone who didn't get a chance to play it then and there could misinterpret that. I bet I would have, too. There's several times in each stage, but there's a lot more to the game, too, and it probably wasn't too apparent then.
Kathrine: I guess they wanted to keep the game simple, but I would have liked to see more ways to alter the levels by pulling seems and unzipping zippers and things like that.
Jason: I also think they didn't want it to be too repetitive, in that sense.
Kathrine: It kind of was though, a little bit. The interactions didn't change much throughout the game.
Jason: That's true. Maybe that's why they weren't there as often as you first thought you'd like? Who would want to pull back a zipper in each stage for little reason?
Kathrine: Right, that's why I'm saying they could have been used in different ways, but that also might increase the complexity a little, too.
Jason: I wouldn't have been opposed to Nintendo finding more ways to use the cloth theme than they did...
Kathrine: Was that your favourite transformation?
Jason: Hmm... It's hard to say, really. I played through most of the game in two-player, which meant that some transformations, like surfing/boarding Kirby and the car Kirby really didn't work all that well for two players. So given that, I liked the mole and the Kirbtank the best. Since both players got to do quite a bit, but you didn't have to "store up" for an attack, like you do with the UFO.
Kathrine: No love for the Kibtrain? All aboard the Kirtrain! Twoot Twoot!
Jason: If I were playing by myself, sure. With two players, it's a lot of fun, but a bit confusing, too. The track ability to lay track seems to randomly switch from player to player... And Chris was absolutely terrible at the mode, too.
Kathrine: I didn't get that far with my sister, but I thought it was a pretty interesting mechanic to draw the tracks with the Wiimote pointer.
Jason: Oh, it was a lot of fun. It's just halfway between my SUPER TRACK! Chris would take over.
Kathrine: It takes a little finesse though, it's a little too easy to accidentally start the new track a bit off... and then Kirbtrain's UPSIDE-DWON!
Jason: Well, we took a few moments to figure out how to get him off the ground.
Kathrine: Because you have to start the track IN the ground.
Jason: Right. Kirbtrain can't jump.
Kathrine: Once you figure it out though, I thought it worked pretty well.
Jason: Sure, it was a lot of fun. How many times was it in the game, though? I recall three, I think.
Kathrine: Not enough!
Jason: Chris was always terrible at it, too. I'd advance us forward, he'd make the train fall down.
Kathrine: The transformations aren't in too many levels, but I think that means they don't overstay their welcome.
Jason: I only didn't like that with the board and car, there was no way to turn around.
Kathrine: That's the thing that actually makes those levels at least a little challenging. If you could go backward, you could just go back and get the beads you missed.
Jason: Not really. Multiple pathways + one possible route + items you can't search for means replaying the same thing. That's not a bad thing, though, but I just didn't feel like car or board Kirby were all that fun to play compared to the other transformations.
Kathrine: So you have to find them then make a good run.
Jason: But I'd rather be normal yarn Kirby!
Kathrine: If you can call that normal.
Jason: Normal yarn.
Kathrine: Some of those vehicle stages might've taken a few tries, but overall, the game is decidedly easy.
Jason: Easy shmeasy. It's a playground. Swings aren't hard. Slides are pretty simple. Monkey bars can be tough, but they're not that challenging.
Kathrine: It can still be that, I'm not saying it can't. I don't have an issue with the main game being a cakewalk. Since I guess walking with a cake is easy?
Jason: Ever tried? If it's in a box and you tilt it too much, you mush up the frosting.
Kathrine: But the extra side stuff, like collecting the beads to get gold medals, and the hidden treasures, that stuff should have been more of a challenge to achieve.
Jason: Sometimes it was tough to find hidden treasures. But to be fair, I seem to recall being able to recollect a lot less beads at E3 whenever you got hit
Kathrine: Right, your E3 impressions said that beads were very valuable!
Jason: No. I said "Beads aren't cheap!" And that was even before I saw the bees! But I didn't actually write E3 impressions, I don't think.
Kathrine: But I guess something changed along the way? If you get hit by an enemy, all of the beads you lose get strewn onto the level. So in most cases, you can scoop them back up, unless they fall into a pit or lava.
Jason: And when you're playing with Chris, you usually end up with someone falling in a pit or lava.
Kathrine: Maybe that's why they changed it? So co-op would be easier to keep beads?
Jason: But that doesn't solve the "Chris is a terrible person" problem!
Kathrine: Nothing will.
Jason: It could be. I think it still works just fine, though. Don't forget that some beads disappear!
Kathrine: It takes a few seconds, it's plenty of time to get them again. And most stages have quite a few more beads than you need to get gold, so even if you do lose some, you can find more.
Jason: Not if someone's constantly assaulting you, like a boss!
Kathrine: Even the tenant challenges aren't much of a challenge, save for a couple.
Jason: Oh, we forgot about those! I mean Chris and I forgot about those. We played the first few.
Kathrine: I'm not saying it ruins the game, or that there's absolutely no challenging parts, but I would have liked the side stuff to be a little more challenging that it is. Most bosses don't constantly assault you.
Jason: One does. I think.
Kathrine: Yeah, one does.
Jason: Which one are you thinking?
Kathrine: Meta Knight.
Jason: I knew it! We lost beads on that one.
Kathrine: If Kirby weren't invincible, that'd be one tough fight. That's kind of my problem with the bosses. Since there is no way to lose, I never felt pressured by a boss.
Jason: Well, perhaps with bosses, there should have been some bead/hit inverse counter. Get hit, lose a bead reward at the conclusion.
Kathrine: Yeah, I think that could have worked better, perhaps. You do need to earn enough beads to open the bonus world, so there's certainly incentive to not get hit. But there's still no real danger.
Jason: Right, since you can pick 'em back up. Though, I did like that about the bosses: You had to figure out not only how to beat them, but also how to make them drop extra beads.
Kathrine: In some ways they are a bit more like a puzzle than a fight.
Jason: They remind me of a puzzle!
Kathrine: The bosses are probably one of the more interesting pieces of scenery made from yarn and cloth, too. I thought they looked nice.
Jason: And usually, oddly enough, they were nice.
Kathrine: It's hard to top Meta Knight's flaming yarn sword.
Jason: Except, you know, with another flaming yarn sword.
Kathrine: But you don't get one! And he gets four! No classic one-on-one sword fight in this.
Jason: Oh, right, I was hoping to see a sword appear. But, you know, the whole Dedede on strings thing we clever, too.
Kathrine: Of course. Like I said, most are.
Jason: Sure, but I wanted to mention Dedede on strings. I really liked that twist on the classic fight.
Kathrine: A twist of yarn.
Jason: Let's use the word "unravel" somewhere in this. Somewhere.
Kathrine: It has to be natural, so good luck. So apparently, that big snowman in the Snow Land was an enemy? A big boss?
Jason: Poor guy! He's a giant snowman!
Kathrine: Just minding his own business.
Jason: And Kirby throws a patch. Then he loses his hat! Now he's cold! Then...
Kirby throws another patch! What happens next? He loses his head! His eyes drop down. And he's a much smaller snowman, but still pretty big. Then, for whatever reason, Kirby throws
And he shrinks again. And I was just thinking... "What would the Ice Climbers think of this?"
Kathrine: Your dramatic pauses are not going to translate to the article.
Jason: I know, it's sad.
Kathrine: Is that all?
Jason: I can't remember. Does anything else happen to the snowman? He should get a space helmet. To make up for losing his hat. That would be pretty nifty. Someone who reads this needs to send in fanart of the Snowman from Kirby's Epic Yarn wearing a space helmet. A space helmet made of yarn?
Kathrine: Somehow I don't think Zap's reading this.
Jason: He's not the only person who can draw!
Kathrine: He's the person who would, though.
Jason: We'll see.
Kathrine: And all the worlds unfold in a similar way, each new patch adds or changes something about the world.
Jason: I thought it was a pretty cute way to move the stage forward.
Kathrine: Except the snowman?
Jason: I'm talking about the part with the... what was it? A cat sleeping underground? Not the snowman. *sniff* Poor guy.
Kathrine: I thought it was a bear. Sometimes it's hard to tell when everything is an outline!
Jason: Regardless, underground sleeping mammals = cute. I just couldn't recall specifically. Speaking of outlines, for whatever reason, Chris really seemed to like the interior decorating, whether it was filling in an outline or just wasting time decorating Prince Fluff's apartment. It wasn't all that fun for me, though. Especially since while one player decorates, the other one is just frozen there, with nothing to do except watch time unravel.
Kathrine: A little unnatural.
Jason: Hmm? What are you talking about?
Kathrine: Your use of unravel.
Jason: Huh? Oh, hey, I didn't even notice.
Kathrine: You italicized it.
Jason: Weird. Maybe PixlBit can pick up cleverness.
Kathrine: It'd be the only one. Anyways, I didn't spend much time on that meself, but my sister always wanted to go back and fill the place with every new treasure we got. At least you can do something with the treasures you collect, right?
Jason: Sure. Which is nifty. Kirby is pretty enterprising, in that sense.
Kathrine: But it should let both players interact.
Jason: Or at least let one run around and do the car dance.
Kathrine: Speaking of, I'm not sure if the double-tap-to-run is the best control method. My sister had trouble getting it to work consistently. I think that a run button is an easier concept for people to grasp.
Jason: I didn't mind it. I suppose that doesn't map to the Wii Remote very well, though, not the Wii Remote alone, at least.
Kathrine: There should have at least been a Nunchuk option for those who want it. Anyways, the interior decorating with treasures is better than the treasure room in Wario Land Shake It!. All that let you do is review the descriptions. There are actually quite a few similarities between the two games, which is probably not too surprising, since they were developed by the same company.
Jason: Maybe that's why Kirby mentioned how the ground felt.
Kathrine: The three hidden treasures in each stage is taken directly from Wario Land Shake It!, and the tenant challenges are not unlike a more focused version of the achievements featured in the game. There are also a couple vehicles and transformations with tilt control, so that concept was also expanded in Kirby Epic Yarn. The general stage progression isn't too far off. The main stages are pretty easy, while the bonus stages provide more of a challenge. Same with Kirby. Wario does have a health meter, though it's rarely a concern. He has ten hearts, most enemies do a half heart damage, and nothing does more than one heart. So it's also a pretty easy game like Kirby.
Jason: Wario isn't invincible?!
Kathrine: He might as well be. There are no pits or traps.
Jason: Ok. Just checking.
Kathrine: And fake treasure chests that chomp you.
Jason: I think they're called "Mimics."
Kathrine: No idea. What might be interesting about the similarities though, is that Epic Yarn wasn't conceived as a Kirby game.
Jason: I called it. It wasn't too hard to call.
Kathrine: I didn't doubt you.
Part two will be up soon!