Roll back the fabric and firmly stitch your yarn-like fingertips into Patch Land with Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn. The Nintendo 3DS port not only brings back the magic experienced the first time around on the Wii, but it also weaves new features into play with Ravel Abilities and a challenging Devilish Mode. While it lacks the co-operative mode, the 3DS port is a meaty single-player experience with something for every age group and skill level.
It’s clear the Nintendo 3DS still has some fire power left in its arsenal if the recent spate of DS, Wii and GameCube ports – over the last year or so – is anything to go by. From Luigi’s Mansion to Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, Nintendo clearly isn’t ready to give up the ghost yet. And quite frankly, given the success of each recently ported title, there’s no rhyme or reason for them to do so. With the arrival of Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn, developer Good-Feel is back in the stitching saddle, following the success of Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World 3DS port in 2017. And boy, does it feel good to have them back.
Cast your mind back to eight or nine years ago. As the tenth instalment in the series, Kirby’s Epic Yarn had just released on the Wii and was received favourably amongst critics. By 2011, it had racked up 1.59 million copies worldwide after being hailed as one of E3 2010’s standout games from the show. Good-Feel and HAL Laboratory had created a Kirby title that was truly unique; stripping the titular character of his ability to inhale, removing his copy abilities and transforming him into a pile of tangled string. It was a new, loopy take on a fun side-scrolling platform. And although it’s on a smaller screen, Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn hasn’t lost that beautiful aesthetic appeal, it’s simply added to the magic.
Following the same storyline as the original Wii game, Dream Land is in terrible danger from a strange knitted being, Yin-Yarn. After confronting the antagonist, Kirby is sucked into Yin-Yarn’s magic sock and transformed into a pile of pink yarn. On waking, our favourite pink puff ball comes to terms with his new form, realising he can transform into different objects on a whim, and meets Patch Land’s current ruler Prince Fluff in the process. Prince Fluff explains to Kirby that Yin-Yarn has cut the ties that bring Patch Land’s seven areas together and needs help locating the seven pieces of magic yarn scattered across the world. Agreeing to help Prince Fluff, Kirby travels across each of the seven areas to stitch Patch Land back together and defeat the evil Yin-Yarn once and for all.
As is the case with many of Nintendo’s 3DS ports, Extra Epic Yarn features no stereoscopic 3D. It also lacks co-operative play, meaning it no longer enables a second player to assist in Kirby’s adventure as Prince Fluff. While the removal of the latter feature is disappointing, particularly since we know it’s technically achievable given Gooigi’s appearance in the 3DS port for Luigi’s Mansion, it’s nevertheless a sensible decision for a largely single-player series.
For first-time players of Extra Epic Yarn, you’ll experience the delirious delights of Patch Land’s 50 distinct levels. From the enchanting floral landscape of Grass Land to the beautiful crisp, white yarn of Snow Land, there are plenty of things to discover in the handheld port. Nearly every moment of the adventure brings a smile to your face, including the adorable voice-over video segments between the discovery of each land and the charming animations shown when a new level opens up for the first time. It’s in these simple but subtle characterisations that make Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn suited to the 3DS; playing it on a handheld feels personal, warm and comforting.
There are, however, some points where the transition from Wii to 3DS feels less smooth. Using the circle pad to manoeuvre Kirby when in car form feels clunky and, at times, inconsistent and unresponsive. You’ll find the directional pad affords you much more control, but it doesn’t feel as natural (or as comfortable) to play in this way. It’s a similar issue when Kirby transforms into a steam train. Your natural instincts are to reach for your stylus and use the touch-screen to trace train tracks, but instead you’re forced to use the circle pad and hold down the A button to sketch your tracks. Though it may have been intuitive to use the Wiimote in Epic Yarn, the 3DS port suffers at its expense with frustrating errors in user playability.
Putting these flaws aside, Extra Epic Yarn has some great new features for series’ veterans. Working in a similar fashion to Copy Abilities, the new Ravel Abilities are unique to the 3DS port and can be found scattered throughout each of Patch Land’s 50 levels. Choose from Wire, Nylon, Knitting Needles, Buttons, Bobbins and Stitch abilities to either slash through yarn in a heartbeat, suck in gems with a whirlwind, or even toss huge yarn balls, bombs, yo-yos and cotton shuriken to reduce enemies into nothing more than pools of tangled string. And while the Kirby series of Amiibo are compatible (Kirby, King Dedede, Meta Knight and Waddle Dee), their custom hats are no more than additional aesthetics, with the core usage mirroring the Ravel Abilities that are already available in the game. Nothing is stuck behind a pay wall – that’s good news for Kirby fans.
As part of a new twist to the 3DS port, you can now play each of the 50 levels in the all-new Devilish Mode. Unlocked from the start, players aren’t required to clear the level in normal mode before taking on Devilish Mode; a nice surprise for series’ veterans. Here, players must avoid the mischievous purple devil’s projectile attacks throughout the level and then either attack him with a Ravel Ability or Kirby’s handy star whip. Once defeated, the devil disappears for around 20 seconds and, like a sadist, returns for more. This relentless cat-and-mouse approach lasts for the entirety of the level, including the ‘runner’ levels and boss fights. However, you do get some breathing space when Kirby transforms into a robot, steam train or dolphin mid-level.
Clearing a level in Devilish Mode – without losing all five star segments – will net you unique and decorative reward items for use in Kirby’s flat. The amount of star segments you have left at the end of the level will equate to the amount of places you progress on the Devilish Mode board. And with 50+ unique items up for grabs, players will receive one RNG-based item after every five segments collected. It’s a shame these unique collectibles can’t be fully utilised in the cramped flat space though as their interactive animations are absolutely adorable. For example, you can get a flower arch that blooms when Kirby walks through it with floating petals adorning the room, or a pond where Kirby can fish, and a flower phonograph that plays music when our pink puffball takes a workout. For the most part, Devilish Mode is fun, challenging and completely satisfying when you give that bothersome purple creature a good whack – particularly during a boss fight.
Aside from the main storyline, Extra Epic Yarn delivers two new minigames featuring two core characters. Slash & Bead, featuring Meta Knight, is an auto-scrolling game where players must slice through enemies and collect beads to achieve a high-ranking score. On the other hand, Dedede Gogogo featuring our favourite king, is a runner minigame where players must avoid the obstacles and collect as many beads as they can to achieve a high-ranking score. Both minigames, each with 4 different stages, are a fun, easy diversion to the main storyline but nothing more.
For those that missed out on the original, Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn is a solid 3DS port, albeit with a few lapses in usability. While the main campaign can be completed in just short of ten hours, both newcomers and returning fans alike can share in the joy of the opulent worldly textures, adorable animations and a beautifully simple storyline to ‘bobbin’ and out of.
A review copy of Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn was provided to My Nintendo News by Nintendo UK.