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Nintendo icon Kirby gets a crafty makeover

Nintendo knows knitting is cool. Kirby has been given an impressive makeover for
Nintendo knows knitting is cool. Kirby has been given an impressive makeover forNintendo

Just when you thought Kirby couldn’t get any cuter, Nintendo has gone and turned their pink blob of an icon into the most adorable piece of yarn you ever did see.

Yes, that’s right, Kirby’s been re-envisioned as a circle of yarn. As in the stuff you knit hats and socks with.

After something of a hiatus, Kirby is slated to make a return to Nintendo console gaming in “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” – a 2-D platforming game for the Wii launching October 17th.

I had a chance to spend a bit of time playing “Epic Yarn” at the Penny Arcade Expo this weekend and couldn’t help but gaze in wonder at what Nintendo and the developers at Good-Feel and HAL Laboratory are in the midst of creating. That is, in this game, Kirby along with his friends, his enemies and the world around him all look as though they’re made out of bits of yarn, swatches of cloth and other textiles.

Playing “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” is like watching a fabric store explode all over your game screen.

Jumping into the game, I found a world made of stitched together patterns fettered with zippers and buttons. Kirby himself is a circle of yarn and so is Prince Fluff, the other playable character. (Two people can play the entire game co-op – one as Kirby, one as Fluff).

It all looks so bright, colorful and textured, you’d swear you could reach out and run your fingers right through the game.

As Kirby makes his way through this plush place collecting gems, he does not inhale his enemies to absorb their powers per usual. Instead, in “Epic Yarn,” Kirby’s stringy outline changes shapes – he’s a car, he’s a submarine, he’s a tank – and so do his powers depending on the situation he’s in.

And like some kind of Fabric Land Indiana Jones, Kirby uses a whip made of yarn to squeeze the adorable dickens out of his enemies (who fall apart into bits of yarn themselves). He lashes his yarn whip around a button and, voila, he’s swinging across chasm. He also uses this whip to do things like grab zippers and pull them open to reveal hidden passageways behind.

From the way the clothy ground squishes beneath Kirby’s feet to the way folds of fabric are neatly pulled back like curtains to alter the landscape, the detail work here would pass the strictest seamstress’s test. (And yes, one can’t help but wonder if the devs got some of their inspiration from “LittleBigPlanet” – Sony’s remarkable PS3 game done with a crafty flair of its own.)

Say what you will about the underpowered Wii’s ability to display impressive gaming graphics ... with “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” there’s simply no denying that Nintendo appears to be knitting together a truly stunning piece of visual work.

Now that I think about it, it must have something to do with the word “epic” in the title. Because it’ll be interesting to see whether “Epic Yarn” or that other epic game – “Epic Mickey” (also due on the Wii this fall) – win the battle for best game graphics of the year.

Winda Benedetti writes the Citizen Gamer column for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things right here on Twitter.