A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a creative and original platformer safe for anyone old enough to be able to understand how to play. The youngest players might become a little afraid while facing off against some of the game’s larger monsters, but it’s not exactly the stuff of nightmares -- all of the game’s enemies are made of yarn. Plus, they cannot kill the game’s little pink hero, only make him lose some of the beads he’s collected. Note, though, that some parts of the game are quite challenging, and that younger children will likely require the help of an older sibling or parent to complete them.
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What's it about?
In KIRBY’S EPIC YARN, the first Wii adventure for Nintendo’s pink puffball, our titular hero has been transformed into a string of yarn by an evil magician and transported to a world made almost entirely of colorful textiles. He immediately meets a new pal, Prince Fluff (who can be controlled by a second player in cooperative play), and the two head off to save the land. But the story plays second fiddle to the game’s fascinating cloth world. Virtually everything the player sees -- buildings, characters, trees, water -- is made of sheets of fabric or strings of yarn. In fact, the cloth aesthetic actually takes on a key role in how the game plays. Kirby can use his yarn whip to snag a button and pull back an entire sheet of the background, revealing new platforms or beads to collect. He can also lasso zippers, pull down little pockets to access the collectibles they hide, and step inside sheets of fabric and move behind them, with players tracking his progress via the little bulge he makes. Plus, Kirby can transform his yarn body into useful shapes, such as a parachute to fall slowly or a weight to drop more quickly.
Is it any good?
Kirby's Epic Yarn is not like any other Kirby game that has come before. This is a full-on, Nintendo’s-game-design-genius-working-overtime masterpiece of a platformer that players young and old -- we played through the whole thing with a kindergartner as a playing partner -- will remember for years to come. Whether you’re tightening a drawstring to cleverly close the mouth of a volcano or tugging the yarn tongue of a dragon and then letting it spring back at him, it’s an extraordinarily imaginative adventure from start to finish.
It’s not quite perfect -- there are some extremely challenging moments that may frustrate younger players, and when playing cooperatively there’s a chance that one player may find him or herself locked into an area because the screen’s edges have become artificial environmental borders (something that could have been fixed had the developers simply allowed the camera to pull back a bit)--but it’s still one of the most original, memorable, and just plain beautiful platformers in years.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the connection between art and games. Art is integral in game design, but can a game in its entirety be considered a work of art? Can you think of a game the aesthetic of which functions as an integral part of the way it plays?
Families can also discuss scariness in games. Does the interactive nature of games make scary scenes more or less frightening than, say, those in movies and books? Do you feel less scared because you have control over what happens, or more scared because it feels as though what happens is happening to you?
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