I can knit believe it! Nintendo just announced a pair of release dates it made earlier for Yoshi's Crafted World on Switch and Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn on 3DS.
Yoshi's Crafted World will launch 29th March. It's an all-new game for Switch made by Good-Feel - the Nintendo-affiliated team behind Yoshi's Woolly World and Kirby's Epic Yarn - and the latest in the studio's line of cutesy side-scrolling platformers.
Speaking of which, 3DS port Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn will arrive on 8th March. It's a faithful re-release of the Wii original with some extra abilities and mini-games thrown in for good measure.
As it has successfully proven time and time again with the Wii and DS, there's seemingly no market that Nintendo is afraid of chasing down. However, it would appear the platform holder has finally drawn a line in the sand.
Plenty of games promise to tell you a story, but Kirby's Epic Yarn is one of the few that literally does so. The game opens with an avuncular man narrating the tale of Kirby's descent into Patch World. There's no voice-acting cast. Instead, like story hour at the local library, the narrator just changes his voice as he reads the lines of each character: a bit squeakier for Kirby and a bit more serious for Kirby's new friend, Prince Fluff. It's a perfectly analogue intro to an analogue game.
Nearly everything in Patch World is made of stuff you'd expect to find in your grandmother's sewing bag: buttons, beads, felt, patches, and countless threads of yarn. Yes, deep down, it's all pixels. Epic Yarn makes it easy to forget that, though, because the fabric of the game is so tactile. Plush parts of the ground give way a little when Kirby walks across them, and yanking on a loose thread makes the attached landscape scrunch up, accordion-style. My favourite effect is when Kirby jumps behind the background, and his figure pokes out as a moving lump in the felt scenery, like a cat scurrying around under the bed covers.
An early cut-scene breaks the news that Kirby's trademark ability – aggressive inhalation of his foes – won't work in Epic Yarn. Because he's just a loop of fibre while he's in Patch World, any gulps of air pass right through him. What may strike long-time Kirby fans as a fundamental change turns out to be inconsequential. Kirby's shtick was always more about transformation, anyway – sucking air was a means to that end – and the little pink dude can still reincarnate himself in new forms, like an acrobatic dolphin or a spaceship complete with tractor beam.
Nintendo has already revealed that Kirby's Epic Yarn began life without Kirby. Now one of the developers has suggested that Epic Yarn is a strong enough concept that it could continue without him into other Nintendo series.
After the best part of a decade, Nintendo's weirdest mascot - the one who inhales his enemies and plods through bright cartoon worlds looking like a squishy little tumour - is back on home consoles in a game that looks, for all this world, as if my grandmother made it to sleep in.