Kirby’s Epic Yarn was a charming, cute, easygoing platformer for the Wii when it first launched back in 2010. And while developers Good-Feel would go on to be far better known for their Yoshi projects (they worked on Yoshi’s Woolly World for the Wii U, and also the upcoming Yoshi’s Crafted World), a lot of their aesthetic and design sensibilities were set in stone in Kirby’s Epic Yarn.
All of which is to say, Epic Yarn was definitely an interesting and cute platformer when it launched for the Wii all those years ago. Now, much like Yoshi’s Woolly World did, Epic Yarn is making the jump to Nintendo’s 3DS, as Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn. And it manages to survive the transition reasonably well—arguably far better than Woolly World did, in fact.
A part of that has to do with graphics. See, Epic Yarn on the Wii looked gorgeous, because of the art style—but it was a Wii game, so there were limits to the technical execution of said art. Woolly World had an incredibly strong art style, but it also had some strong technical tricks to make that art style come to life on the Wii U—tricks that were lost when moving the game to the far more comparatively underpowered 3DS, which also made the game look far flatter on the ironically 3D touting 3DS than it had looked on the Wii U.
Given that Kirby’s technical base wasn’t as strong to begin with, it’s done better on that front in the jump to 3DS. The game still looks charming and gorgeous, losing not much of the little technical flairs that made Epic Yarn stand out on the Wii at all—in fact, to my knowledge, there’s nothing perceptible that’s has been lost in the transition at all (I am sure behind the scenes there was reworking involved to shrink the game down to the 3DS). While, as is the wont with so many modern 3DS games, Extra Epic Yarn eschews 3D entirely (which is a shame, I would have loved to see this art style brought to eye popping life with the stereoscopic 3D effect), on the whole, Extra Epic Yarn certainly isn’t any less good looking than its Wii forebear.
Equally, the core game itself has not taken any hit whatsoever with the jump to 3DS. The game still plays like it always did on the Wii —which is to say, a lot like a Yoshi game (which, I assume, was the reason the developers were enlisted to work on that series after this game).
Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn plays entirely unlike other games in the series—it’s a more traditional platformer, and abilities you associate with Kirby, such as copying, or his air time, are gone. Instead, you have a traditional style platformer, but one that doesn’t forego the easygoing nature of the series (more on this in a minute). Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn is still a sedate experience, and if you’re just looking to complete the levels, it will neither challenge you much, nor take much time. A lot of the inherent challenge in the levels comes from taking the time to explore them, and trying to collect secrets and power-ups—these are decidedly more taxing than just waltzing your way to the end of a level can be.
"The core of the package is still the same game as we got all those years ago, and you know what? It’s a great core, and a great package."
That said, Extra Epic Yarn actually does add more challenge to the package via the Devillish Mode, which adds a Kirby version of Mr. X to the levels, who is constantly chasing you, and adds a sense of urgency and pace to the proceedings. You also get a lower health pool, while having far harsher checkpointing (you almost always have to restart the level entirely upon dying), which further ups the ante and stakes a bit, reducing the margin of error you otherwise have.
That’s not all the new content the game has with the 3DS version, either—for instance, There are new mini games to engage with, but these are trivial (though, younger kids will probably love these). Additionally, at predetermined points in levels, you get “ravel abilities”, which add new powers for Kirby to use. While these are cool, and can sometimes veer towards restoring the traditional Kirby style mechanics the game otherwise lacks, on the whole, they do feel tacked on. Younger kids will probably be delighted with their gimmicks, but they don’t actually achieve much with their inclusion at all—a complete antithesis to the Devillish Mode, which actively makes the experience better for anyone who is experienced with the original title (or with, like, games).
The core of the package is still the same game as we got all those years ago, and you know what? It’s a great core, and a great package. Kirby’s Epic Yarn was one of the standout titles in the series, in my opinion, and Extra Epic Yarn elevates it further by adding a harder difficulty, being portable, and losing nothing in the process. Even its additions that don’t land home with me, such as the mini games, or the new abilities, don’t detract from the game, and can be mostly ignored.
"Even its additions that don’t land home with me, such as the mini games, or the new abilities, don’t detract from the game, and can be mostly ignored."
Presuming Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn is meant to be Nintendo’s final release for the 3DS—as of right now, there is no other game for the handheld announced by the Big N—I think it’s a good note to sign off on. For the first time in a while, I feel like I can recommend a Kirby game to just about everyone (even veterans will find something to enjoy with the Devillish Mode), which is fitting, given that Epic Yarn was so great to begin with.
This game was reviewed on the 3DS.
Charming art style that somehow seems to have not been lost in the transition to 3DS; Devillish Mode is a great, meaningful new addition that elevates the original experience; the core game design of Epic Yarn on the Wii holds up remarkably well.
No stereoscopic 3D support; some new additions, like the Ravel abilities, feel tacked on.
Review by Gaming Bolt