Rocket Kirby gonna be a long long time
Kirby's Epic Yarn
If I were to honestly say which was the best co-op game that I tried at this year’s Eurogamer expo it would have to be the new platformer Kirby’s Epic Yarn from Nintendo. I like to think of myself as a trendy kind of guy and perhaps should have plumped for the cool ultra violence of Gears of War 3’s Beast mode, but Kirby has recaptured the Nintendo magic that made me love my Super Nintendo back ‘nth day. In fact, I was so impressed by the game that I would consider covering myself in dayglo pink emulsion and taking up knitting as an act of Kirby cosplay.
The ultra strict Nintendo Booth Wardens™ graciously allowed me time with a vertical slice of the co-op game that included a tutorial and a few levels. Within this session I played Kirby and was aided by the blue form of Prince Fluff (hopefully not made out of that weird fluff you find in your belly button – what is that stuff!?). Within seconds I was throwing my co-op partner around the screen and loving some of the innovative ways that you can interact with the level. Unlike in previous Kirby games, this time the little pink puff ball is made from thread and his entire world is designed from different types of fabric. Nintendo have made the levels extremely colorful and full of clever touches, such as buttons that can be undone, or thread that can be drawn out. Actions with these items reveal hidden areas to the map and open up new challenges.
From a gameplay point of view, it plays very similarly to New Super Mario Brother Wii. Both NSMB and Kirby come from the Nintendo stable and they share a few similarities including both players limited to the same screen. If one of you falls too far behind you are picked up by the AI and floated back to your co-op partner. They are also both old fashioned side scrolling platformers that look simple to begin with, but have hidden extras that add depth. However, Kirby is the far friendlier family game, with the inability to die – NSMB can prove quite difficult for gaming novices towards the end (if you can call DjiiniMan a gaming novice).
Kirby proved to have true co-op gameplay with many of the puzzles and hard to reach extras requiring two players to work together. Both Kirby and Fluff can take on a series of different forms as they morph their threadlike selves into cars, weights, parachutes etc. Part of the level I played saw Kirby and Fluff combine into a giant tank, one of us steered, whilst the other fired rockets. These innovative moments popped up regularly and with no fear of death, the game feels like a playground that encouraged me to mess around with my co-op buddy, throwing him there or dropping him off that. Rather than being annoying it harked back to the days of my youth as I huddled around a small TV and played Super Bomberman with my sisters and brother.
With its simplified gameplay and family friendly feel, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is unlikely to appeal to the more ‘hardcore’ gamer. However, for members of Co-Optimus with a family of their own, or someone who still has that love for Ninty, Kirby is certainly a co-op game to look out for on its Q1 2011 release.