Kirby's Epic Yarn Multiplayer Hands-On
We cooperatively thread our way through Fire Land with Kirby and Prince Fluff.
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You might already know that the world Kirby ventures through in Epic Yarn is entirely made of fabric and various types of yarn. As such, objects in the environment can be scrunched, unzipped, and unfolded much like actual cloth to reveal hidden beads and patches to collect. You probably also know that it's one of the most adorable games in recent years. And you probably know that it's a platformer with easy-to-use controls (performed by holding the Wii Remote sideways), but what you probably don't know is that Epic Yarn's cute and cuddly exterior hides an often complex action game that requires skilled teamwork when playing cooperatively with Kirby's ally, Prince Fluff.
Fluff and Kirby have the same abilities. Both can lasso onto enemies and usually turn them into projectiles that they can throw, and both can turn into a variety of different things during the course of standard gameplay. For example, they can turn into parachutes to glide after a jump or transform into a small car to get a quick boost of speed for longer jumps. Additionally, Fluff and Kirby can turn into a weight by pressing down on the D pad--a useful skill for smashing destructible platforms underfoot. The only trouble is, at least when it comes to cooperative play, that both Fluff and Kirby can use these things to interact with each other, which often ends with unintended results. In other words, remember how easy it was to mess with other players in New Super Mario Bros. Wii? It's kind of like that in Kirby's Epic Yarn.
Granted, the intention of the cooperative mode isn't to purposely doom your in-game partner. In fact, with two players, it's a little easier to collect more beads because they all go to one pile and not to individual players, which then makes it easier to earn the required number to earn a badge and advance to a new level within any given area. Likewise, it's easier to find and collect hidden items, some of which can be used to deck out Kirby's house in the hub area of the game. But it's also possible to just enter a shop and buy items for his pad as well. Lastly, two players can often help each other out when Kirby and Fluff turn into vehicles.
In two of the Fire Land levels, we saw two vehicles: a fire truck and an off-road vehicle. When Fluff and Kirby turn into fire trucks, they're separate and can fire separate streams of yarn from their hoses that push back fire, which spews from the ceiling. However, in the off-road vehicle, Kirby and Fluff become one, and much like the robot (one player controls the robot and its missiles while the second player controls the giant arm with the boxing glove), both players can control separate aspects of the vehicle. It seems that one player can give a slight boost in speed while the other generally controls jumping and other mechanics. At any rate, the vehicle sections are some of our favorites in the game already, and we can't wait to see more of them.
But with all of that in mind, there's one other thing two players can do: Pick each other up and throw each other. In some cases, this is pretty useful because picking up another player can be used to help one player reach a spot he or she was previously unable to access. Additionally, throwing your partner becomes a nice alternative weapon in a pinch when there are no other alternatives available. But as you can imagine, it can also be used for evil, throwing Fluff or Kirby into a pit or water trap, only to see one of them struggle.
Thankfully, Kirby's Epic Yarn is pretty forgiving about death. Much like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, when one player dies, he or she comes back onto the screen, floating until he or she has found a safe spot to touch down. There a few points where we witnessed this firsthand due to some surprisingly difficult obstacles scattered throughout the levels in Fire Land. In one particular level, you have to race rising lava to the top of a volcano where you eventually have to tie off its mouth by pulling a thread closed (there are a couple of smaller volcanoes where you have to do the same thing). We also saw some nods to Super Mario Bros. 2 with quicksand sections that require you to successfully navigate falling layers of sand, and of course, there are dust storms that can sweep you up and toss you into the air.
This is all really just touching the surface of what Kirby's Epic Yarn has to offer. From what we've seen so far, the game offers linear paths toward bosses (such as the boss named Hot Wing in the Fire Lands area), but there are side levels you can unlock and play through as well. Additionally, you can unlock minigames that put your skills to the test in old levels, but now, they have special objectives to meet and usually an allotted time in which to meet them. We'll have more on Kirby's Epic Yarn before its October 17 release.