Back to basics

Although Kirby's Epic Yarn was a wonderful experience, there were a lot of diehard Kirby fans who we're a bit put off by its radically-different visual style and gameplay scheme. Now Nintendo is sending Kirby back to his roots and bringing back not only the familiar visual stylings fans have grown to love over the years, but also the classic gameplay system as well.

From the moment you pick up the controller to play Kirby Wii, it's quite apparent that things have returned to normal in the world of Kirby. Kirby's trademark inhaling capabilities have returned in all of their glory and once again Kirby can absorb the special abilities of his enemies. Of course, there are a host of brand new touches as well, that do make things even more interesting.

Playing Kirby Wii has you holding the Wii Remote on its side and much like the original Kirby releases from the 8 and 16-bit days, the gameplay scheme remains simple, yet wildly playable. As soon as you get into the action, you'll find yourself sucking in enemies and stealing away their powers, many of which prove to be quite effective at navigating many of the trickier levels you'll encounter.

Something to cry about

Special abilities play a pivotal role in how effective you'll be, but you'll have to keep an eye on your special ability gauge and make sure you make use of these powers strategically. Some abilities are flashier and more effective than others, but the Ultra Sword, an ability that has Kirby whipping out a gigantic sword and swiping through half of the screen, proves to be one of the more effective and dynamic weapons in the game.

One of the more enjoyable features of Kirby Wii involves the game's multiplayer mode that allows up to four players to take on the game cooperatively. Each player takes control of a different Kirby character and you can even jump onto the back of another player, something that opens up even more gameplay variety. Of course, players who like to be a bit more competitive can also tackle the levels in a more aggressive manner in an effort to outdo one another.

Kirby titles have generally always featured a rather toned-down level of difficulty, but this Wii release feels a bit more challenging than usual, although it's still not going to give seasoned platformer fans too much trouble. And while there were only a handful of levels to try out on the show floor, what was on display more than showed that the beloved Kirby gameplay, with the smooth and responsive play controls that comes along with it, is back and better than ever.

Always wear protection

There's no denying that the visuals in Kirby's Epic Yarn were impressive, but there's just something about the classic Kirby environments that have really been captured quite amazingly in this new Wii release. Not only are you getting plenty of vibrant levels that jump off of the screen, the multiple-layered backgrounds bring even more depth and realism to the presentation. Toss in some over-the-top special effects and silky smooth animation and you've got what has to be one of the most amazing visual productions seen on the Wii to date.

The Kirby games have always featured some of the most charming and catchy musical tracks you're ever likely to hear, but the soundtrack in this newest release might be even better. To say that the score is dripping with endearing charm might be a gross understatement, but the further I played into the game, the better the music got. It pretty much left me wondering how much better the music could possibly get, something we can all look forward to once the retail release rolls around.

As enjoyable as Kirby's Epic Yarn was, you can't help but love the good old-fashioned Kirby experience that's been such a staple of the series over the years. A wide variety of visual themes and special powers give the game a dynamic look and feel, but the inclusion of multiplayer adds a whole new dimension to the package. Toss in a slightly higher level of challenge and enough hidden surprises to keep you coming back for more and what you have is easily one of the best Kirby releases ever crafted and yet another great game to hold gamers off until Nintendo's next console hits store shelves next year.

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