One of the most applauded announcements at Nintendo’s press event this morning was the iconic Kirby’s return in a game of his own.  While I’m generally not to be considered among the pink puffball’s most ardent fans, the new art style and creative control and design decisions should have been enough to win over even the most jaded gamer.  And after taking some time to put the new and – in my opinion – vastly improved Kirby through his paces, there’s no doubt that Kirby’s Epic Yarn will be making its way to my Christmas list.

The game starts out with a 1 or 2 player option and, as luck would have it, I walked up just in time for the booth babe/game demonstrator on duty to assign me as the second player to a game that was almost in progress.  Suffice it to say the guy that I was playing with seemed pretty pissed about having his Kirby alone-time interrupted.  While he insisted that it was no big deal, his passive aggressive play style seemed to suggest otherwise.  Regardless, I had a good time, which is a testament to the fun and cuteness of Kirby’s Epic Yarn.

The biggest surprise of the whole game is that it’s possible, apparently, to make Kirby even more adorable.  The yarn motif is simultaneously weird and endearing and the color palette consists of soft pastels which are effectively mixed with cool yarn effects.  Yarn effects?  Yup, you read that right.

Kirby controls smoothly and his moves consist of a ground pound, a floating maneuver and, instead of swallowing things, Kirby uses his tongue like a frog and licks/grabs them.  The tongue-grab can pick up enemies, swing Kirby around and also latch onto things like buttons which, when yanked, cause cloth doors to unravel and open.  It’s a very cool design choice and it’s obvious that the designers had a lot of fun coming up with stuff for Kirby to do with it.

There are also gameplay elements that focus on Kirby transforming, which looks cool, but which I was unable to try.  Overall, Kirby’s Epic Yarn looks to be another strong entry in Nintendo’s recent 2D revival and a definite addition to my “games to buy this year” list.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn comes out this holiday season exclusively for the Nintendo Wii.

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