You can use the treasures you discover in your adventures - like dinosaur-shaped sliding boards, frog umbrella stands, and giant teddy bears - to decorate the apartment you're given at the start of the game, or use them to attract new tenants to the building. Once new folks move in, you can play minigames with them, like Zeke's hide and seek, or Beadtrix's bead-gathering game. The challenges earn you extra beads and more swag for your apartment, and while the interior decorating won't appeal to everyone, completing the minigames is a nice break from the platforming.
Unlike fellow Wii exclusive Super Mario Galaxy, in which Player 2 takes a major back seat to Player 1, the co-op in Kirby's Epic Yarn is very evenhanded. Kirby and Prince Fluff have the same freedom and abilities, so nobody's left feeling shortchanged. The game can be played quite handily solo, but the hilarity of playing together - and inevitably rolling each other's characters up in yarn and throwing them across the screen - is undeniable. At certain locations, Prince Fluff and Kirby combine to form a completely new object, like a surfer or a tank, with controls split between players. These sequences are brief and you'll spend about half your time just figuring out who's supposed to be doing what, but they're a nice bonus for choosing to play with a pal.
Kirby's Epic Yarn isn't hard enough to be aimed squarely at the hardcore crowd, but is more challenging than its super-cute appearance might suggest, landing it in a well-balanced middle ground where just about everyone should find it entertaining. The ingenious manipulation of its world-as-fabric gimmick provides constant surprises as the gameplay evolves and builds on itself, slowly combining elements to create more and more complex levels. Epic Yarn is also a testament to the belief that a game can be childlike without being childish - evoking pure joy without being overly simplistic or immature.
Bottom Line: Kirby's Epic Yarn is one of those games that you'll play simply because it makes you feel so good. It's also challenging and clever, with well done co-operative play and even a great soundtrack. There's no downside to this game.
Recommendation: Say you're buying it for your little cousin if you can't bear to be seen in public with something so adorable, but play this game. You get to play an entire level as a firetruck. A firetruck.
The bird boss from Lava Land is named "Hot Wings". Susan Arendt finds this hilarious.
Game: Kirby's Epic Yarn
Developer: Hal Laboratory/Good-Feel
Release Date: October 17th, 2010
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Available from: Amazon