Kirby's last "real" console title, forgoing spin-offs like Kirby's Air Ride on the Nintendo GameCube, was on the Nintendo 64. Nintendo was planning to release a new game on the GameCube but the title eventually got shelved due to delays. So when Nintendo announced a new Kirby game during their E3 2010 press conference, many were expecting a more polished version of that shelved title, but were instead greeted with something much, much more different. Gaming Union got a chance to play a short demo of the game on the show floor to see if this change is worthy of the long-running franchise or not.
The first thing that is different in Kirby's Epic Yarn is the graphics, which look as if Kirby's world was stitched together by pieces of yarn, including all of the characters in the world and Kirby himself. This approach carries on into blocks which impede Kirby's progress, which can be broken by unraveling them by having Kirby extend a line of yarn from his arm, or patches which can be unzipped. This approach looks amazing in motion, especially when all of the pieces of yarn break apart and fall to the ground.
This also applies to the enemies, which can be pulled apart with the yarn, as well as being rolled into a ball of yarn to attack other enemies from afar and break objects which Kirby can't easily tear apart himself. In a inventive approach this yarn whip can also be used to "bring" parts of the stage closer to Kirby, causing the fabric in the background to fold over itself temporarily.
While not always seen in the franchise, Kirby's Epic Yarn also includes a co-op mode, which has one player control Kirby and another control a blue-tinted character which looks different but has the same skill sets. Each character can grab the other character using the whip, which leads to some amusing moments. At one point in the demo both characters combined together to form a tank, with Kirby controlling the tank and operating a missile launcher and the other character controlling a pair of boxing gloves which could attack enemies.
The finale of the demo was a massive yarn dragon boss, which required grabbing the his tongue when he stretched it out occasionally during battle. Being a Kirby game it was expected that the boss would be somewhat simplistic, but there were moments, such as when he fired fireballs and knocked the players to the edge of the screen, that made the boss battle not feel as mundane as one might think. Although it was only one boss it seems like Nintendo has hit a nice mix of being challenging without being too hard for the age range this game is aimed at.
Kirby's Epic Yarn is set for a Fall 2010 release in North America, with no word on the release in Japan or Europe.