Kirby likes eating. Especially tomatoes - those are his favourite. So you can imagine how excited everyone's favourite pink puffball was when he saw a massive one, just resting on top of a bush, while he was out walking one day - without hesitation, the Kirbster quickly swallowed it up, without pausing to savour the taste. But little did he know that the tomato wasn't just any old tomato - instead, the Metamato belonged to the evil wizard Yin-Yarn, who, in his anger, promptly sucked Kirby into the sock he wore around his neck (they're all the rage, don't you know).
However, in something of a continuation of the theme, this sock, too, was far from simply being an ordinary sock, as it was actually the gateway to a whole new world. Inside the sock lived the entire world of Patch Land, which the evil Yin-Yarn has pulled apart at its seams. Ever the hero, no sooner had Kirby landed in the world, than he'd befriended Prince Fluff (who looks strangely like a blue version of Kirby), and decided to put things right, by locating the seven magical threads to stitch the land back to it's former glory. And so the story begins...
As you may have guessed from the name (and the setting), as Patch Land takes its residence inside a magical sock, everything you come across in the game - including Kirby - is made out of wool, fabric and buttons. There's certainly a crafty feel to each level, as each and every stage is packed with bits of scenery you can interact with in a variety of ways, pulling on zips and bits of stray thread by pressing the 2 button, which open up new areas, or reveal previously hidden items.
As an example, on one of the levels mid-way through the game, you'll find yourself coming across a rather sad looking teddy bear. As his tear burns a hole through your heart, and you start to feel genuinely rather bad for him, you begin to wonder what's got him so down. To find out, all you have to do is pull back the piece of fabric covering him up, to find that his paw has become unstitched. A simple yank on the stray thread of his paw turns his frown upside down, and rewards you with a load of beads for your effort - as if seeing the bear smiling again wasn't reward enough!
For those who've played Kirby games before, you may be familiar with how Kirb-dawg can swallow his enemies, and steal their abilities, changing an otherwise harmless puffball into a fire breathing dragon, or letting him shoot fire from his eyes. The only problem is, in order to steal an enemy's abilities, he has to swallow them first - and that's something of a challenge when you're made out of wool, as the air goes right through you. Instead, for Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirby can now transform into all manner of things - from a train, to a UFO, to a dolphin and many more inbetween - thanks to the power of the magical Metamato. Each of these transformations comes with it's own ability, which is useful for solving the various puzzles in the game - and finding all the collectable items scattered throughout the levels. Even better, when you're playing in co-op, several of the transformations let the two of you work together, with the tank letting one player drive, while the other fires its giant fluffy fist at things.
I tend to get rather OCD about collecting all the stuff, and unlocking everything in games - and Kirby's Epic Yarn plays up to this weakness. Each level has two items of furniture and a music track to find - some are in obvious you-couldn't-miss-this-if-you-tried places, and some are well-hidden, requiring strategic use of the various transformations or a massive detour to get them. On top of that, you can get one of three medals at the end of each level - bronze, silver and gold - depending on how many beads you managed to amass in the level. Which is often easier said than done...
While it's impossible to get a game over in Kirby's Epic Yarn, because there are no lives, running head-first into an an enemy or falling off a platform into the abyss below does still have a penalty. In a similar way to the LEGO games, if you come a cropper, you'll end up with some of your hard-earned beads being scattered on the floor, as you scramble to pick them all up again... Either way, it does mean that you should definitely be able to finish each of the levels, even if you don't get a very good bead score.
Offering a challenge for players of all ages, with it's appealing mix of co-op and crafty artwork, Kirby's Epic Yarn really is an Epic game. We've laughed a lot at my uselessness when it comes to holding onto beads, been puzzled over how to get a gold medal on a boss fight, and cheated by riding on the other's head in a Carrie mission. If you have any soul, you'll buy this now, before it disappears of the shelves completely like the DS games did. Oh, and if you think the early transofrmations are good, wait until you see the train - the amount of time we spent in tears laughing at that, and how useless I was at drawing the track across the screen for it to attempt to follow is worth the asking price alone.