When I originally reviewed Kirby’s Epic Yarn for the Wii—way back in 2010—I named it a beautiful, accessible family favorite. Now, nearly a decade later, the game is back on the diminutive Nintendo 3DS as Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn, and while this new iteration shows a bit more wear at the seams (pun fully intended), it’s still a fun and fluffy Kirby adventure for the whole family.
A Whole New World
In lieu of his traditional Dream Land escapades, Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn takes our rotund hero to Patch Land, a vibrant world of fantastic fabrics. Kirby himself has been transformed into a piece of string by new villain Yin-Yarn, but our pink protagonist still manages to pull off the miraculous transformations that typify the Kirby franchise—in a manner of speaking, at least.
With the help of a local, blue-hued analog, Prince Fluff, Kirby is charged with stitching back together a fractured Patch Land by beating baddies and acquiring magical pieces of yarn. His shape-changing powers have been altered to better suit his new form, and you’ll routinely find yourself morphing into knitted cars, parachutes, and submarines—and even more exotic fare like tanks and UFOs—as you master this highly stylized platformer.
All the Things
Collectible patches abound, as do beads, the ad hoc currency of the realm. Some specific patches can be applied to the growing world map, interacting with the existing scenery to change the environment in lushly animated displays. Beads, meanwhile, fill in the rest of the blanks: tallied to determine your levels scores, acting as health when you take damage from an enemy or fall into a chasm, and even used to purchase patch “furniture” that can be employed to customize Kirby’s Patch Land pad.
This Extra Epic edition adds a number of new features over the original offering. A “Ravel” ability mimics Kirby’s classic copy ability, an element previously missing from Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and a new Devilish alternate is available alongside each regular level, further upping the game’s difficulty if that’s your kind of thing.
Traversing this title’s unique world by unzipping zippers, lassoing buttons, and otherwise altering the fabric *ahem* of reality still feels fun and satisfying, but even with the added Ravel function, vanilla Kirby rather seems like a pale imitation of his former glory. Walking—the most basic function in any platformer—is painfully slow when contrasted with the zip of Kirby’s car mode or even the fun physics of swinging from those conspicuously placed buttons onto faraway overhangs.
That said, this really does encourage experimentation in gameplay, challenging players to quickly morph from automobile to parachute to weight to yarn Kirby to traverse multi-tiered levels. It also serves to contrast the game’s brand new mini-games, Meta Knight’s fierce, flying Slash & Bead and the Penguin King’s frantic runner Dedede Gogogo, both of which can be selected on the fly should you need a little break from the core Story mode.
An Enjoyable Journey
While you won’t necessarily find the same sort of high-octane, enemy-inhaling excitement as in other portable Kirby adventures (think Triple Deluxe or Planet Robobot), Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn is still a worthwhile endeavor, especially for those of us who hold the character close to our hearts. The Yarn Whip mechanic, which can subdue enemies as easily as it alters the textile-heavy environments of Patch Land, still plays as fresh and exciting, and the game’s sometimes slow pace just gives players all the more time to adjust to this novel take on the franchise.
Releasing hot on the heels of the spectacular demo for Yoshi’s Crafted World, Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn can certainly scratch any lingering itch you may have for creative gameplay in a beautifully realized, perfectly organic game world. And even if you already experienced Epic Yarn back in the proverbial day, its blend of brand new tricks with that same satisfying charm make it worth a second look.
Review materials provided by Nintendo of America.