This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Kirby's Epic Yarn and Colorful Apartment Management Simulator 2011, which may in fact be the same game.
One of the many things I have in common with Captain Picard is that I'm not good with children. Maybe it's because, being a video gamer, the mainstream media tends to group me with them, along with autistics, magpies, and stains on the upholstery. But I really wish they'd all fuck off. And parents of children always give me shit for this stance.
"You were a child once," they say. And yes, that's true, but I had the strength of character to overcome my disability.
"Children are the future," they add. But if that's the case, then children are the bodily representations of environmental decline, dwindling resources, and Lord Humongous. Fuck the future.
So the best way to get preemptive revenge for that is to buy up kiddy games I'm not supposed to. Because I bought Kirby's Epic Yarn, somewhere in the world, a child cries. And I've got loads of games, that's the funniest thing. That crying child's probably only got like three. And one of them's a ripoff of Diner Dash his nan bought from the rack outside of Mr. Toys.
First of all, you can blame Wii game localisation delay once again for the lateness of this critique. You'd almost think Nintendo were concerned a game about a fat, pink retard voraciously overconsuming wouldn't go down so well in the West. Not that Kirby consumes much in this game, because in what I can only assume is a case of coming up with the title before the concept, he's been turned into yarn. An evil arts-and-crafts themed demonic overlord converts him and the whole world into a combination of wool, patchwork, and fuzzy felt, giving a feel somewhere around Super Paper Mario by way of the bottom of an old lady's handbag. And yes, I know full well that this is a game for the hated kiddywinks, but the advantage of games for kids over, say, kid's TV, is that as long as the gameplay's balanced for challenge, then adults can still get some sense of achievement out of it. This is one thing we have over the little monkeys; they don't get to play our games without oblivious parenting and a fake ID.
Anyway, rather than the usual routine of going through all the levels and defeating all the bosses, Kirby has to save the world by filing a strongly-worded petition with the planning department. Nah, I'm just kidding. You go through all the levels and defeat all the bosses. So I guess the best way to analyse this game is to look at what it would teach a child. If some madwoman were to break into my house, steal my wastepaper basket, and impregnate herself with some dirty handkerchiefs, what lessons would my hypothetical wayward cumsprout take away from Kirby's Epic Yarn?
Well, firstly, that current generation gaming is bollocks. And we know this because the game snubs it completely. It barely uses the Wiimote motion sensor and could easily have been on Gamecube or even the SNES. It's a 2D platformer whose levels have themes like Lava World and Candy World, and the colour scheme is reminiscent of an ice cream parlor with disco lighting, so it's as retro as you can get before you start getting the lutes out. But while it's satisfying to see Nintendo continue to realise - like I did very early on - that motion sensors are so much widdle in the wind, like Holmes and Moriarty I used to respect their intention to innovate at least. My concern with Kirby's Epic Yarn is that Nintendo's example might teach my child that he can submit his primary school finger paintings for his university coursework. (Mind you, considering today's pussyfooting education system, he'd probably get an 'A').
And that brings me to another lesson Kirby will teach my child: that there is no possible way for him to fail. And that will come back to bite him harshly when he starts submitting said finger paintings to the National Portrait Gallery. Kirby does not die. Like, ever. If he should happen to dawdle into an enemy, he'll just drop a load of the sequins he's been gathering Sonic rings style. And if you don't have any, then he just gets a bit surprised, so then the enemy apologies and Kirby forgives them and they all go out for lemonade. I don't know why a game should be afraid to tell someone they fucked up. When I was a kid, they did it with fucking fanfares and rubbed shit in your eyes. And that's how we liked it.
Obviously, the game starts about as challenging as a polystyrene prison, but over time it remembers its heritage and gains a few teeth. A Meta Knight boss fight in particular. And I haven't played a lot of Kirby games, but the whole Meta Knight thing seems rather glaringly out of place in a game where the principal antagonists are a fat penguin and some knitwear. It's like an episode of The Care Bears where they all climb into giant mecha suits and swordfight over the last jelly baby. But it's hard to feel invested when the most any enemy attack can threaten you with is a temporary wallet puncture. But this is assuming that your purpose in the game is to stop the villain and save the world, which may be incorrect. Certainly that happens, but afterwards my completion percentage was barely halfway. Heroism is more a side thing you do in between work hours, and that brings me to the next lesson Epic Yarn will teach my child: that there is no worthier existence than being the volunteer superintendent at an apartment building.
At the start of the game, you're given a free apartment to stay in - another lesson for my child, teaching them to be an entitled little shit - where all you can do is decorate it fuzzy felt style with furniture and conversation pieces that are either picked up from secret places in the levels or bought from the nearby shops. You also must furnish other flats with specific furniture in order to attract the neediest motherfucking tenants in the history of homeowning, who pester you to play hide and seek with them or just hang around uninvited in your house, messing up your DVDs and sniffing your toilet seats. And every now and again the landlord asks for monetary donations so he can build more apartments, which is teaching my child to invest blithely in unsustainable business ventures.
You see, the apartment building thing is literally the entire point of the game. The only penalty for taking hits is losing money, and the only use for money is to buy more houses and furniture. The only reward for playing well and playing your needy housemates' minigames is more money. Like moving in with your girlfriend, sooner or later everything comes down to soft furnishings. I suppose it's just a rather unconventional scoreboard, an Ikea showroom representation of your achievements, and a chintzy couch is at least nicer to look at than a number one position on a dowdy high score table somewhere. But my feeling is that a game whose quest is over halfway through, with a whole bunch of optional levels remaining and interior design your only remaining motivation to play them, has its sights slightly misaligned.
So no, I don't think I'd let my hypothetical son play it. Because let's face it, there's no surer method for turning him into a girl. And fat. And being a fat girly lad on any schoolyard in the world is like offering people a coconut if they can bean you right between the eyes with a rock.
Fat pink consuming whore: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
For the longest time I didn't have any K's in my ZP alphabet and now I've had two in a row
You can't spell Kirby's Epic Yarn without 'Brainy Prick Yes'