In 2010, Kirby's Epic Yarn spun the traditional formula of Dream Land's favorite hero on its head, reimaging Kirby stuck in a world made entirely of yarn, buttons, and zippers. Extra Epic Yarn ports Kirby's sidescrolling platforming adventure from Wii to 3DS and stitches on a few new features and modes for good measure. Most of Extra Epic Yarn plays as you might remember the original game–and it still looks just as good–but the port's additions craft new, enjoyable ways for you to approach its content.
Kirby does not have his trademark abilities in Patch Land, so you need to rely on his new knitted form to find unorthodox ways of overcoming obstacles and vanquishing foes. To attack, for example, Kirby throws out a whip of yarn to unravel enemies before wrapping the material up into a ball that can be thrown. There are also moments within levels where Kirby will take on a new shape, which briefly alters gameplay–when Kirby is a fighter jet, for example, Extra Epic Yarn becomes a fixed shooter.
Epic Yarn recaptures the charming simplicity of Kirby's earliest adventures, while also reimagining Dream Land's hero in a fun new way with its yarn-based aesthetics. The game retains the franchise's focus on simple platforming challenges populated throughout cleverly designed levels as well. Extra Epic Yarn adds on to this formula by including craft-focused variations of some of Kirby's traditional transformations in the platforming sections. Certain items on each stage transform Kirby if you manage to whip them up, allowing him to attack and occasionally navigate a stage in a new way. For instance, Nylon (Tornado) Kirby can spin at high enough speeds to pull apart any enemy or damage bosses, but the attack can also be used to briefly hover through the air. These new abilities are not necessary to completing any level, but several of them allow Kirby to more easily attack and jump at the same time, which adds a nice flow to the platforming. And like previous Kirby titles, you can stick with one you enjoy and bring it from one stage to the next.
It would have been nice to see Kirby's transformations inspire new puzzles in Extra Epic Yarn. Every stage–as far as I can tell–has been faithfully replicated, so there's not one puzzle you can't figure out without a transformation. It feels like a lost opportunity to implement a more creative application of Kirby's new powers.
On top of new transformations, Extra Epic Yarn also adds Devilish mode, which is the game's version of a hard difficulty. In Devilish mode, a small devil will follow Kirby and try to attack him. Striking back will cause the devil to scurry off, but it will return eventually and you'll have to hit it again if you want to get rid of it. And you do want to get rid of it. Unlike Normal mode, Kirby can be unwound in Devilish mode from taking too many hits, which forces you to start a stage from the very beginning. Devilish mode can present quite the challenge on later stages, where longer levels present more opportunities for a misplaced jump or slow attack. The new mode never becomes frustrating, though, thanks in large part to the implementation of the aforementioned transformation abilities. Devilish mode might not have worked in the more methodical Epic Yarn, but the ability to do quick, sweeping attacks while on the move with Kirby's transformations allows for Extra Epic Yarn to be more action-oriented. It's still tough at times, but as someone who thought Epic Yarn was too easy, Devilish mode introduces the challenge I want in a second playthrough.
Extra Epic Yarn also adds two new minigames which put you in control of either Meta Knight or King Dedede. Meta Knight Slash & Bead has you cut your way through stages as you collect beads, doing your best to slice through as many enemies as quickly as possible to earn more time. Dedede Gogogo is a much faster-paced variation of the same formula, pushing you to sprint through a stage instead of fight your way through it. Each minigame only has four stages, all of which only last a few minutes. Both work as enjoyable distractions when you want to take a break from the campaign–similar to Samurai Kirby and Megaton Punch in previous titles.
Epic Yarn recaptures the charming simplicity of Kirby's earliest adventures, while also reimagining Dream Land's hero in a fun new way with its craft-focused aesthetics.
One last change that comes in Extra Epic Yarn is the loss of motion controls, which were used in certain story levels in the original game on Wii and Wii U. You only notice the motion controls are gone in a few infrequent instances: the sections where Kirby turns himself into a train. Before, you laid out the train's path by pointing at the screen and dragging where you wanted the track to go. In the 3DS port, you use the control stick or d-pad, which is just harder to do. It's possible, sure, but I can't help but think incorporating stylus support in those sections would have made them easier.
Extra Epic Yarn brings new life to a Kirby game that's nearly a decade old. Everything there is to love about Epic Yarn is still here, but the addition of traditional transformation abilities and challenging Devilish mode provide options for anyone looking for a different or more difficult platforming experience. The two new minigames aren't game-changing additions, but they're both fun to complete and provide a change of pace if you ever need a break from the campaign. Whether you're looking to relive Kirby's adventure into Patch Land or want to pick up the game for the first time, Extra Epic Yarn provides hours of good fun, all wrapped up in charming, craft-influenced visuals. This 3DS port is the best version of the game, hands down.