Poor Prince Fluff was replaced by actual fluff in this port.
Oh Kirby, how was Nintendo able to make you cuter then you already are? And at the same time, how were they able to make your already-easy yarn-themed platformer even easier? Okay, maybe that is a stretch. Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn on the Nintendo 3DS is by and large the same experience as the 2010 Wii original. Some features were cut and replaced with modes that aren’t really 3DS-exclusive by design but are only found in this version. I wouldn’t call it “definitive” though.
To save time here: Kirby was sucked into an evil sorcerer’s magic sock after eating a magic tomato that turned him into yarn, and now he has to help Prince Fluff recover magic yarn to restore Patch Land and return home to Dream Land. It’s a cute story, with some light-hearted narration, and is virtually unchanged from the Wii title. Kirby can’t suck up any enemies this time around; he instead uses a yarn whip to unravel them and turn them into yarn balls that can be thrown. Co-op is completely removed. Your original player two, Prince Fluff, is still just as important to the story and shows up in levels, but he is unplayable. Motion controls are also entirely gone, being replaced with either stylus controls or buttons where applicable. There are two new side modes: King Dedede’s Gogogo, and Slash & Bead, as well as a new “difficulty” option upon entering each level. Amiibo and StreetPass functionality are also supported. Lastly, in a game that was already incredibly easy, power-ups are now abundant in the levels.
Let’s start off with the new difficulty mode option. A huge complaint of the Wii title was just how easy it was. You couldn’t actually die. If you took “damage” or fell in a bottomless pit, Kirby would lose the collectable currency, beads. But you’d still be happily on your way towards the goal. In normal mode, this is still the case. In the new “Devilish” mode, it seems that the criticisms of how easy this charming romp is, were addressed, but only sort of. In this new mode, Kirby does have a health bar, five little pips that make a star. Falling in a pit, getting crushed, taking damage, etc., will all cause Kirby to lose one of these pips. The only way to restore them is to find Prince Fluff somewhere in the level, and he is usually only present once. He will restore your life bar entirely. So the incentive to not be reckless is strong, as healing is sparse. At the end of the level, the total amount of health pips you have are allocated into a small chart, earning you small prizes. It’s not far off of a Yoshi’s Island design: collect the various hidden prizes throughout the level, while also trying to beat it without taking damage. Additionally in Devlish mode, a new enemy tries to hunt you down throughout the majority of the level and often changes up how it attacks level-to-level. This can range from dropping spikey balls on you, bulldozing at you, or trying to spear you with its tail. It can be defeated like any other enemy, but will respawn after a few seconds. The issue I have here, is that while having a bounty hunter try to take down Kirby throughout the levels, the power-ups in the game make it laughably easy to get by. If anything, this new enemy becomes an annoyance rather than a threat. The power-ups (which are tiny little hats for Kirby to wear) equip Kirby with a sword, endless bombs, yarn balls, three whips, and more make for dealing with the enemies, the bounty hunter, and the level’s challenges much easier.
There are areas in Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn where yarn ammo is sparse, so what you do have is best to hold onto, in case you come across a collectible that is walled off. If you have endless ammo, this completely voids the challenge. And these power-ups are present in the so-called Devilish mode, which would imply it’s harder. I get that you want to show off the new content, but it is coming at the expense of the difficulty option itself, and this game was already a walk in the park. The Amiibo only amplify this: Kirby’s Amiibo gives you an endless supply of bigger yarn balls, Meta Knight’s Amiibo gives you a larger range when slashing a sword. If you wanted to, you could play this with your own ruleset, by just not touching the power-ups. It’s just weird that they are there to begin with. There were levels that were much busier in terms of what to keep my attention on. So, getting through to the end with all the collectibles, and a full life bar is tricky. But those were few and far between compared to the overall experience.
Speaking of easy, the two new mini-game modes are also cake walks. King Dedede’s Gogogo is a a mini-game where you get to play as the beloved penguin and run as fast as you can, while collecting beads. You want to get the best time, and the most beads, while jumping, plowing through, and sliding under various obstacles. Slash & Bead is a mini-game where you fly as Meta Knight through an auto-scrolling level. You “slash” enemies and collect the beads for the best score. These were really fun, and a nice break from the main adventure. However, there are only four levels in each of these modes. So they are here and gone like breath on a mirror. The only other feature is StreetPass, which would be an exclusive use of the 3DS’ hardware (because yes, this title does not support 3D). You can design what Kirby’s apartment looks like by dragging around the collectible furniture you find in the levels via a touch screen. You can save a design, and then have it be sent out to anyone you StreetPass with, thus letting you create an apartment of designs to look at. It’s cute, but Animal Crossing did it first.
Even with my misgivings with the port, don’t dismiss Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn, as it still is a terrific title with an amazing soundtrack and creative use of platforming. I enjoyed my time coming back to it, and all the joy that the Wii version has is brought over, minus co-op. The stellar soundtrack, adorable art style, creative contextual levels, and new ideas are all welcome. It just doesn’t feel definitive by any means. I could tell they were trying to address the difficulty complaints, and they definitely delivered on giving the player the tools to make a harder experience. But ultimately, it comes down to how hard you want to make it for yourself. I wouldn’t call it “Extra Epic,” because of these shortcomings.