—the good, the yarn, & the rainbows—
Chances are you’ve heard of Yoshi, the loveable green dino from Yoshi’s Story and many a Mario games, and Kirby, the giant pink inflatable blob that common logic would suggest shares a common ancestor with Jigglypuff. And with the recent unveiling of exciting new Nintendo games at this year’s E3 came two new titles that caught my attention in an unexpected way. In Yoshi’s Woolly World, Yoshi has been transformed into an adorable little yarn monster that uses a ball of thread to navigate his way through many levels of varying coloration. On the other hand, Kirby has set off on a new adventure in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, which sees him scaling hand drawn rainbow ropes to blast through the game. Both games rely heavily on colour, and both games have unique gameplay mechanics (yarn and rainbow ropes). But the time has come to answer (through deductive reasoning) a question of fundamental importance* to the future of Nintendo: which game is the cutest? In this game battle, I seek to analyse the kawaii** factor (k factor-no relation to marketing) of each game and conclude which one reigns supreme in adorableness. Let’s get started.
Yoshi’s Woolly World
1. Everything is made of wool- which by default means that everything is soft and fluffy. A playthrough from Eurogamer suggests that the graphics are great and extremely life-like, so each grain of wool is presented in striking clarity. The ground is one gigantic knitted carpet, immediately setting itself apart from the comparatively harsh terrains of Yoshi’s New Island. According to the gameplay analysis by Gamexplain, the wool carpeting in the foreground mimics a field decorated with plants, and the buttons depict flowers, which is an ingenious move on Nintendo’s behalf.
2. First Yoshi game with co-op mode- players will get the chance to control both a green and red Yoshi simultaneously, which can only mean double the fun. It appears that there is a general trend towards advocating co-op and multiplayer style games, a fact which is only cemented by upcoming releases such as Lara Croft and the temple of Osiris, and Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Luckily, this doesn’t lessen the overall cuteness of the game, and actually encourages teamwork-think Twinrova from Ocarina of Time-combining deadly witch attacks against the hero of time never looked so good. Now just apply that logic to Yoshi, and you have two cute little dinosaurs roaming around pretty yarn landscapes. Aaaawww.
3. Inventive new movement and attack styles- although Yoshi is probably most famous for his extended flutter-jump and swallowing his enemies with his ridiculously long tongue, Yoshi’s Woolly World sees our cute little green hero get a whole new set of upgrades: propeller blade legs whilst flying, a mallet transformation when groundpounding, and wheelrunning. Yoshi also ‘unravels’ his enemies down to their core woolly constituents, and even though I should probably feel sorry for those shyguys, Yoshi just looks sweet even during battle.
4. Developed by same team behind Kirby’s Epic Yarn- The development team that brought life to the latest Yoshi title is appropriately named Feel Good, and a good feel game they most definitely create. Apart from the fact that even the clouds adorning the sky are wearing a perpetual smile, the peaceful soundtrack plays like a beautiful lullaby and also demonstrates to me that these devs haven’t forgotten what it’s like being a kid. Kirby’s Epic Yarn may have set the precedent for Yoshi’s Wolly World, but Yoshi is able to retain elements of former games and blend them with the new in an original and really pleasing way.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
1. Everything is made of clay- an obvious departure from Kirby Triple Deluxe, the use of kids’ favourite building/modelling material brings a nice, youthful charm to the game. It also reminds me of all those wonderful art classes at school where we made cute little animals and let them set in the kiln. It’s a good contrast with wool, and definitely captures the feeling of fun, play, and innocence, so top marks for being kawaii.
2. Kirby eats everything, well, normally- look no further folks, the creature with the world’s fastest metabolism is right here. The idea of someone or something who can seemingly eat everything without gaining weight has been popularised in many anime series such as One Piece and Dragon Ball Z, so of course, it makes sense that Kirby can do the same. However in this particular rainbow brand of adventure, rather than gulping down enemies, Kirby is either shooting them or staying clear. I would particularly like to bring attention to the Hypernova feature in Kirby Triple Deluxe, which allows Kirby to engulf entire trees and yet still remain adorable. In Rainbow Curse, gameplay centres on creating pathways with the stylus, and Kirby is transformed into a constantly rolling wheel of sorts, which means no more enemy swallowing. Kirby does still look dashingly cute when blasting his foes, but there’s just something about that puffy cheeked pink ball.
3. Multiple transformations-may detract from cuteness. As discussed above, Kirby is no longer swallowing his foes, instead, he is meant to defeat them through battle. Take a look at the E3 trailer yourself, and from about 52 seconds in you can see Kirby transform from a Submarine into a Rocket, and even a brutal gun firing tank. The tank in particular is hilarious because it juxtaposes something we symbolise as being cute with heavy violence, not unlike the character Finster from Looney Tunes. I applaud the creativity behind this substitution of borrowing enemy powers with actual transformations, and I am very curious as to how we’ll be able to access them in-game.
4. Kirby’s constantly moving-this is a big one for me. Strikingly similar to the gameplay mechanic in Kirby Canvas Curse, the fact that Kirby is constantly rolling like a pinball-while very cool-suggests a more fast paced type of gameplay than the traditional platforming approach. The absence of a pink round blob that wobbles his way around a multitude of landscapes is definitely something that reduces the k factor of this game.
And so, to borrow a quote from Iron Chef, who takes it? Whose kawaii reigns supreme? Based on the reasons stated above, I must come to the conclusion that Yoshi is the winner. But what do you think? Have Nintendo gone in the right direction by focusing on the kawaii aspect of gaming? Which game will you be buying?
Both Yoshi’s Woolly World and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse will be released for Nintendo Wii U in 2015.
**Defined by Wikipedia as the quality of cuteness of an object in the context of Japanese culture.