With outstanding visuals and gameplay literally stitched together, Kirby's Epic Yarn is a mesmerizing delight.

User Rating: 9 | Kirby's Epic Yarn WII
Pros:
+ a marvelous yarn aesthetic that makes mundane platformer obstacles fresh and exciting
+ levels varying greatly in design, all showing off mounds of creativity
+ an array of transformations that mix up the gameplay nicely
+ co-op plays much more smoothly than other 2D platformers'
+ great for younger children or any beginner gamers
+ large amount of unlockables and fun minigames

Cons:
- the train transformation controls disastrously
- the story, adorable as it may be, is geared to those who may have just begun to read
- you'll find no challenge at all getting through the levels since you cannot die

Graphical styIe has been a controversial facet of video games for quite some time now, resulting in disagreements on its importance. Some may say that visuals don't matter as long as a game plays well, and even though there somewhat is a basis of truth in this statement, it is also true that graphics can enhance an experience, making a game special. This is exactly what happens with would-be mundane side-scroller Kirby's Epic Yarn, which incorporates a splendid aesthetic that makes everything look handmade from fabric. And the gameplay doesn't suffer at all under the brilliant visuals; quite the opposite really! Ingenious levels and plenty of excellent gameplay elements utilize the graphics to a great extent, really emphasizing a beautiful world of yarn. The myriad of marvelous features also including a great multiplayer and tons of bonus content stitches together an absolute bundle of joy. With so many wonderful assets to put a smile on your face, it's not hard to overlook Epic Yarn's extreme ease and childish nature.

What I mean by childish nature can be realized by taking one look at the game's story. The yarn (pun intended) is presented just like a children's storybook, being told entirely from a narrator's point of view. An evil sorcerer named Yin-Yarn banishes Kirby from his comfortable home in Dream Land to the bizarre Patch Land, where everything is made out of all the materials found in a knitting kit. Kirby then meets Prince Fluff, who looks somewhat like a blue Kirby with a crown and thick eyebrows, to whom he agrees to help recover Patch Land's stolen magic yarn that helps keep the land stitched together and to stop Yin-Yarn from taking over Dream Land. The story and cutscenes are positively cute and light-hearted; however, there's no way around the fact that it's targeted towards younger children. The way the narrator embellishes his words and very frivolous themes may not be bearable to everyone, so thankfully, you can skip the cutscenes entirely if you prefer.

While Epic Yarn makes its immediate audience apparent, its platforming magic can appeal to those of any age. The game's levels take you across a wide variety of landscapes each presenting new mechanics to use in a diverse array of gameplay situations. You'll travel up a beanstalk while riding on top of ascending Waddle Dees' umbrellas, avoid quicksand and twisters in the desert, make you way across a beach as the tide changes, sled down icy slopes, and so much more. There's even a level where Kirby can make music by running past or jumping on a variety of instruments. As the adventure goes on, the levels conjure up more and more pleasant surprises that are all so consistently great that you might find trouble deciding which world is your favorite. What separates Epic Yarn from other Kirby games besides its visual styIe is that Kirby no longer sucks up baddies and steals their abilities. Now, he can unravel his yarn enemies or roll them in balls and throw them at other foes.

This doesn't mean that Kirby no longer changes form, however. He has a set of simple transformations he can use at any time, including a car for a quick speed burst, a parachute for a gentle descent, a submarine for getting around in water, and a weight for bashing obstacles from above. While these all make Kirby's standard move set unique and amusing, there are more advanced transformations dedicated to entire sections of certain levels. You'll swim with acrobatic grace as a lovable dolphin, shoot missiles to blow up enemies and walls as a towering tank, extinguish roaring flames and fiery foes as a firetruck, and plenty more, all of which are immensely fun... Then there's the train: the single blemish of the otherwise awesome set of transformations. The problem is you don't control the train directly; you draw the tracks for it to ride on. Unfortunately, the train rarely takes the path you create, and it tends to fall off the track at random times. Even if this despicable transformation did control well, it would still be dreadfully boring because of how slow the train moves. Even though you can only use these different forms in restricted areas in the levels, they're all played best in them and generally do a great job of changing up the pace of the game.

Like in many platformers, at the end of each world you'll come across a boss you must defeat in order to move on. Colossal yarn monsters such as a dragon and a giant squid will stand in your way, which require you to use simple but clever techniques with your core abilities to bring down. These boss battles illustrate the same styIe and charm as the rest of the journey with more lovely touches of the textile graphics. The combat with your gargantuan foes is usually very frantic and chaotic, as you try to collect as many beads as possible that are scattered everywhere every time you damage them in order to unlock extra levels in the same world.

The only issue with these fights, and all of the story levels for that matter, is that they are way too easy. The inability to die allows you to glide through the entire journey without any fear of having to restart a level (unless you choose to). The security from death will satisfy those who find platformers troubling, but like to the well-organized mind, platforming veterans see that death is but the next great adventure. Even so, the experienced fans of the genre can take in the wonderful sights and sounds of the game and still enjoy the relaxing experience it has to offer. The challenge in Epic Yarn is instead to collect the most beads for a medal and all of the hidden treasures at the end of each level. To earn the greatest medal (gold), you need to avoid losing beads, which will happen if you fall into pits or get damaged by enemies. While even this and the treasure hunting aren't very difficult to do, it ensures that you'll be replaying levels if you want to find all the secret objects and get a gold medal for each level.

Epic Yarn also has a generous amount of extra attractions aside from the main adventure. There are loads of minigames of 5 different types to take part in, but do not fret, these aren't some embarrassing party-game diversions; they're actually a lot of fun and more challenging than the story levels. The minigames take a section of a level and pit you against the clock, requiring you to pick up the platforming pace to find all the hiding yarn friends, carry your friend to a throne, collect all the beads, bash the baddies, or race to the end. The reward for completing any one of these is a fabric material for your apartment, which can also be decorated with furniture found in a nearby store or the hidden treasures in the story levels. Decking out your pad with all the right stuff can result in a stylin' abode, but without your inner interior designer, you probably won't want to experiment with this feature too often.

Obviously, with such a major emphasis on the fabric visuals, it's seems pretty clear that Epic Yarn looks superb, and it does. What makes the game look absolutely phenomenal, however, are the innumerable little touches of clever creativity that just make you want to hug the screen. Pulling a loose thread causes a platform to get nearer to you as the background crumples together, the ground caves in like a soft bed as Kirby walks on it, and swinging from buttons almost pulls them off the background fabric. Unlocking new levels is especially adorable, as short cinematics cutely depict the environment altering in a way that opens the door to the next level. For instance, an alarm clock will wake up a bear hibernating underground. The bear then stretches upward, also stretching the ground with him to create a grassy knoll before the door to the next level. While the graphics are easily the main attraction of the game's presentation, the music in Epic Yarn does a great job lifting up the cheery mood of the game to unimaginable heights. Themes consist mainly of lively, upbeat music from the piano, trumpet, flute, and violin that'll get you whistling provided you are able to. Along with the astounding visuals, the game's soundtrack knits Epic Yarn into the cutest gaming experience available.

With a game so packed with joy, who wouldn't want to share it with a buddy? Luckily, Epic Yarn's 2-player co-op is one of the most enjoyable of any platformer. The frantic multiplayer modes of other platformers such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii usually make it very difficult for players to cooperate with one another to make it through a level. The slower pace of this game makes it generally calm, progressive, and always a blast to play with a friend. The second player can play the entire game, including the minigames as Prince Fluff, who has all the same abilities as Kirby. In co-op, you can also grab and toss your friend at obstacles and enemies or carry them through some of the tougher sections. The easiness of Epic Yarn's levels makes it the perfect multiplayer game to get a younger kid or any casual player into hardcore gaming.

Kirby's Epic Yarn is undoubtedly adorable and yes, childish, but don't let that stop you from picking it up, because anybody with a playfully open mind can get a ton of enjoyment out of Kirby's latest adventure. And yes, the game is a piece of cake, but it's absolutely delicious. The delightful journey in the wonderful world of yarn takes its place as one of the most memorable games on the Nintendo Wii. With the excellent gameplay-visuals double-team, imaginative levels, and loads of splendid content, Epic Yarn constantly dishes out joy and can put a lasting smile on just about anyone's face.

Score: 9.0/10

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