Last week, I was invited to a preview event in Toronto where Nintendo was showcasing some of their upcoming Wii U and Nintendo 3DS titles. I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts and impressions of these games in preview pieces throughout the week, starting with Yoshi’s Woolly World.
I’ve been taking caution to Nintendo’s recent trend of action platformers this decade. Whether it be the overtly adorable Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse or Yoshi’s New Island, there’s something about the clay and yarn-mation aesthetic that just doesn’t work for me. It may be an oddity considering how Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is one of my top SNES games, however I cast all that aside when I first got my hands on Yoshi’s Woolly World. Although I had my concerns, I always let gameplay speak for itself.
I’m glad to say that this time I might be wrong.
Yoshi 2: Electric Boogaloo
Since this was a preview event with many people in line, I got to try out the levels in co-op mode with a stranger. Mine so happened to be a young lady of 9-10 years old, so I was mindful to be co-operative and understanding of the differences in abilities. That said, as soon as we chose our level, she was pushing to play regular gameplay as opposed to the flight-enhanced Mellow Mode. I was happy, as all other youngsters at the event were solely playing under that easy difficulty mode. I had hope in the future of gaming once again!
Back to Yoshi’s Woolly World, the first level we played saw us work together to dive-pound through clay, eat swarming mice and transport back and forth between two planes of perspective; the foreground and reversing the camera around toward the background. The constant back-and-forth switching brought an interesting dimension to puzzle platforming, however I couldn’t help but think that the switch in perspectives were a bit too often. It took out of the pacing a bit, cutting out of the action one too many times.
The game is more of an expanded version of the SNES Yoshi’s Island, and after a dreadful sequel on the Nintendo 3DS, it’s time someone went back and expanded upon an excellent formula.
I was fond of the interactivity co-op players could have in Yoshi’s Woolly World. Not only could you participate in some hijinx by swallowing your buddy and using them as a projectile egg, but working together meant prolonging life. If you fall off into the abyss in solo mode, you have to restart the level from the closest checkpoint. Just like in the New Super Mario Bros games, though, this time your departed co-op buddies come back in a floating egg that you can bump into to bring them back into the action.
Yoshi & Friends
My co-op partner and I weren’t alone, however, as we were shown ways we could bring even more friends into Yoshi’s Woolly World. Spending some of those gems accumulated throughout the adventure will allow players purchase a variety of bonuses, including the option to bring in Poochy to help you out! Apparently surviving the trip back to his home planet, he will not only follow you around in his adorable way, but will bark at secrets, provide cover over dangerous terrain and provide a jumping platform to help you traverse to higher aspects of the level.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is definitely aimed at a younger generation, meaning that these kinds of helpers are always there for those who accumulate lots of gems and need lots of help. However, they’re put out of the main focus, meaning a skilled player can go throughout the game without calling for help most of the time. In that way, the game is more of an expanded version of the SNES Yoshi’s Island, and after a dreadful sequel on the Nintendo 3DS, it’s time someone went back and expanded upon an excellent formula.
I’m a fan of what Yoshi’s Woolly World is trying to do. There is a strong balance between platforming and action, especially with targets that require angling shots with precision. The cutesy aesthetic is backed up with a solid gameplay that can be tackled by newcomer and experienced player, either together or separately. The preview levels I got to experience were cut off before the end, however I found that they were varied in their approaches.
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Heading into a full release, my only wish is that the developers at Good-Feel know how to balance gameplay difficulty into progression. Whether it be in regular play or in Mellow Mode, there needs to be a sense that as your execution of the game’s mechanics improve, so do the challenges. What I got to play shows a wide difference in difficulty, but that’s only because of the randomness of the levels plucked from various regions of the full game. Still, it will be interesting to see if everything is sorted out at launch.
Yoshi’s Woolly World could be the title that brings prominence back to Mario’s dinosaur friend, and for that, I couldn’t be happier.
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