been playing some kirby's epic yarn.
i never really understood the appeal of kirby as a game (or really as a character). it just seemed like a watered down mario clone with some kind of suck/spit mechanic (kind of gimmicky). sometime later, i began to see kirby as a relation to pac-man, as a colourful ambassador of the female game-player. i thought into the character's origin and identity way too much. it's not like the developers were trying to make some kind of intellectual/philosophical statement. you walk from left to right, eat colourful things and repeat about 30 times with minor variations.
epic yarn is more special than that. it sort of transcends itself, mostly thanks to the unique art direction but also because of a broader harmony with its hardware (the wii). but i also think this all comes back to kirby herself as a character, thus creating a seamless aesthetic harmony on several levels. it's really difficult to explain this in words, becuase it's something that goes beyond rational logic and so when i say these things it comes out kind of garbled or unable to be easily interpreted.
it all goes back to buddhism and tantra, which have been part of the make-up of japan for centuries. kirby is the ego-less, and somewhat pityful and 'irrelevent' dot, or drop of water in the sea of life. this is mostly signified by her emptiness as she feeds off the abilities of others to find identity and power. epic yarn takes this concept further though, by transforming the world of kirby into yarn or thread. the thread represents energy in various vibrations and forms rather than just the outward appearance of a simple physical reality as seen in the original games. the theme of the game is connection. well actually, the game designers had to make up a silly hero's quest story of good vs. evil to make the product understandable to a larger audience, but underneath all that, kirby has to remember that the world is all connected and that it's part of the wider fabric of the universe. after each level she finds 'magic thread' that connects each world together; this would be consciousness. kirby can also transform into thread. in various segments of the game, kirby becomes thread, literally, and goes through walls. so playing the game is kind of kirby's realization of his ego-lessness. she used to transform, but now there is a real justification for the transformations. kirby weaves into the fabric of life.
anyway, i just love how the game plays with visual illusions and the great harmony of kirby's character becoming the whole game and the wii console itself, with its petite controller and elegant form, but also using the strengths of the wii to look forward and back at the same time. it's something of a swan song for the console. the craft and heart that has gone into the game is second to none. go look at some videos.
but other than that, it's a simple platformer. it takes liberally from games such as mario brothers, yoshi's island, little big planet, and sonic the hedgehog. so it's kind of a mini celebration of platforming conventions. but i also feel it as a wonderful unification of japanese culture and identity, but also an attempt at a unification of gaming audiences as the quality of the game is something everyone can appreciate. it's just a work of art. play it!