A month ago I reported about my first impressions of Kirby after seeing the footage from E3. At the Nintendo post E3 event in Zandaam, NiSuTe journalist Chi and I had the pleasure to give Kirby Epic Yarn a test drive.
The game itself is quite fun; straight off the bat, you know what you’re doing and how to do it, and anyone can pick it up and have a great time. When you jump you turn into a spring, when you fall hard you turn into an anvil, and when you run quickly you turn into a car (easily one of my personal favorites). All of these quick changes in Kirby’s state are fluent, smooth and give a really great effect and feel when playing the game. These are the replacements for Kirby’s old power to suck in enemies and absorb their powers.
Kirby makes use of his little yarn whip to hit enemies and pull them to shreds, or snatch them up and use them as a projectile. If you pick up your friend, he cleverly turns into what resembles a baseball – fitting for something you’re about to toss into an enemy.
Speaking of grabbing and throwing characters, the controls for whipping and throwing, as well as all the movement animations are extremely well polished, smooth and very responsive, giving the game a great feel to it. The things you can do with the yarn, such as pulling the world closer (to close a wide gap) or unzipping a piece of the world to reveal a new path, are very interesting and some take quite a bit of clever thinking to figure out.
The game does not require two players, but with two it just becomes twice as easy to collect everything and finish the level faster and more flawlessly. There is a definite perk when playing co-op: the co-op tank. At a certain point in the demo, the two characters fuse into a giant robot tank, where one player controls the movement and fires missiles, while the other can control the boxing arm, and even shoot the arm like a rocket, and still control its path mid-air. This was quite a fun cooperative section, and if there are more combinations to play around with throughout the game, I’m definitely going to have to check it out.
Apart from the fun things we discovered about Epic Yarn, there is one major “flaw” that had me a bit disappointed as I walked away from the booth: there is no way to die in the game. The aim of the game is to collect gems, to proceed to the next level. If you have more gems you get a better score, and if you get hit by enemies you lose some gems. There is, however, no way to “die” in the game, no lives and no fatal drops. This means the player can quite easily walk from one side of the level to the other, and no matter how many enemies they hit, and how long it takes them, they will inevitably make it to the end. This eliminates most of the challenge, in my opinion, and I definitely hope to see this changed by the time the game gets released. It has so much potential to become an awesome game, but without the challenge of avoiding death, there’s really no reason, in my opinion, to even bother playing.