Kirby games have never quite received the appreciation they deserve with the cute exterior being some kind of barrier for all but a dedicated cult following. What a shame it is for those who scoff at cuteness and miss the great platforming within. I got to play with the upcoming and only true Wii outing for the franchise yesterday and even though it ramps up the adorability, it quite frankly looked amazing. Kirby’s Epic Yarn stays with the platforming genre but has an art-style as if the world and its inhabitants are made from lengths of string or scraps of material. And it all comes together beautifully, hopefully becoming a benchmark of Wii graphical capabilities. It’s a visual wonderland for the eyes that played just as well as it looked. Simple, fun but clever level designs made the demo a joy to play, still feeling very much like a Kirby game with a new art-style that added extra mechanics. Armed with a whip that may or may not be part of the string which makes him, Kirby could lasso enemies, squeezing them out of his way or attach it to things like buttons and zips, unfolding new areas or gaining access to higher ground. Like previous Kirbys, the pink puffy hero can morph into objects to help his crusade. Things like how double jumping changes him into a parachute for a safer landing or to counter that, Kirby can also become an anvil for a somewhat heavier descent. Levels can be played co-operatviely as I experienced yesterday. Xander played as Kirby while I took the reigns of someone called Prince Puff. We were able to throw each other to areas once impossible to reach or at enemies to end them. Late into the demo, Xander’s Kirby turned into a large, spherical tank and I manned a rocket-powered fist able to launch at incoming foes. Since said actions were controlled by tilting the Wii remote, it took a few minutes to get used to and did suffer from a little bit of over-steer but ultimately was a great laugh. Finishing our playtime was a boss battle against a green-stringed dragon with a button on the end of his tongue. Dodging his attacks, we had to lasso the button to defeat him with our eventual victory being rewarded with Kirby and Prince Puff doing a celebratory dance, something of a trademark of Kirby titles.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn was one of the best games to come out of this year’s E3 and by far my favourite Wii game of yesterday’s press event. I was surprised at just how good the visuals were and was overjoyed with the agreeable gameplay. It’s yet to have a release date more specific than Autumn 2010 but from what I’ve played so far, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is shaping up to be a great debut for the franchise on the Wii.