Twenty years ago, Kirby - Nintendo's squishy pink blob with a voracious appetite - made his debut in Kirby's Dream Land on the humble GameBoy. In the years since, he has been a regular fixture in Nintendo's catalogue, appearing in several games including Super Smash Bros, but none have quite matched the brilliant Epic Yarn, his 2010 platforming adventure on Wii.
The story is typical twee nonsense about Kirby's journey to Patch Land, but it's the stunning visuals and fresh gameplay twists which make Kirby's Epic Yarn such a joy. Patch Land is quirky and beautiful, with environments stitched together by thread, felt, patterned fabric, layers of hessian and patches of textured material.
But rather than simply used to create a backdrop for Kirby's comfy, laid-back caper, these lush environments can be manipulated to reveal secrets and trigger unexpected results.
Pulling zips reveals items in the scenery, yanking on shiny buttons crumples the landscape to create ledges, while Kirby can squirrel himself underneath cloth covers, creating a small lump in the scenery.
Previous games in the series focused on Kirby's ability to hoover up enemies and take on their special powers. But as he is now made from a strand of pink thread, this signature move is redundant. Instead, Kirby can morph into various shapes and an assortment of delightful vehicles to explore Patch Land.
On his travels through this plushy world, Kirby can also collect sparkling beads which can be used to buy items for the residents of Patch Land, while hidden collectables and felt covered CDs lie hidden away, waiting to be found by those of an inquisitive nature.
Even the world map is a visual treat, with Kirby looking on as secret doorways take shape in spectacular style thanks to a range of brilliant animations after each successful run.
While the visuals are some of the best and most creative on Wii, it's the captivating soundtrack which sews the whole experience together - it even manages to trump Mario Galaxy 2's spine-tingling score and the electronica-tinged themes from sadly overlooked RPG Opoona - with piano tinkles, strings, flutes, maracas and drums used to create a distinctly Charlie Brown vibe.
Holding the Wiimore horizontally controls Kirby but when motion control is called upon, the results are something of a mixed bag. Putting out fires by adjusting the angle of the controller while in the guise of a fire engine works well, but drawing tracks for Kirby to puff across when he takes the form of a train is an awkward kerfuffle. Thankfully, these episodes are kept to a minimum and are the only missed stitch on an otherwise perfect pattern.
Kirby's Epic Yarn may be easy to complete, but that doesn't detract from the experience. Playing through the game is a genuine treat and its laid-back trappings make it the perfect game to kick back with on rainy Sunday afternoons.
Bursting with creativity in both visuals and gameplay, Kirby's Epic Yarn is a wonderful experience. It's imaginative, utterly charming and an absolute delight to play.