Yoshi’s Woolly World Review – Knit Together

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Developer: Good-Feel

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Wii U

Release Date: October 16, 2015 (NA); June 25, 2015 (AUS); June 26, 2015 (EU); July 16, 2015 (JP)

When Emi Watanabe showed off her hand-knit, adorable creations during Nintendo’s E3 presentation, even the toughest viewers had to at least smile at the cute softness of each piece. Though we can’t experience her craftsmanship in person, each knitted world comes to life in your living room the minute you load up Yoshi’s Woolly World. Nintendo and Good-Feel pulled out all the stops when it came to cuteness for this title, and while each level plays host to unique, aww-worthy creatures and environments, the game has a lot more going for it than just that.

Weaving A Story

There’s nothing deep or thought-provoking about the premise: Kamek the Magikoopa, long-time enemy of Yoshi and pals, shows up on Craft Island to unravel all the Yoshis into colorful skeins of yarn. Two Yoshis narrowly escape, and set off on an adventure to rescue their friends. It’s simple, but the focus of Yoshi’s Woolly World is on the gameplay, so a basic frame story is all it needs.

You can play on the Wii U gamepad, either looking at the TV or just at the gamepad screen for a little bit of portability. You’re not locked on the gamepad, though. The game is playable on the Wiimote, a Pro Controller, or with the nunchuck. I found the Gamepad and the Pro Controller easiest to use, but having the different options was a nice addition.

Yoshi’s Woolly World’s main game takes place across six worlds, each with eight levels apiece. Each level must be completed before moving onto the next one, and there are boss battles on levels 4 and 8 of each world. Each world has its own theme (such as “desert” or “snow”) and the levels within them are themed as well both in mechanics and style.

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Everything in Yoshi’s Woolly World is made of yarn, fabric, or other soft craft supplies. The concept on its own is adorable, and is constantly renewing itself with different takes on familiar enemies and environments from Yoshi games. Every level, there was some background detail or new enemy designed all in soft materials, and it’s amazing how thoughtful the creators were at building this world. Cacti in the desert are made of green pin cushions, snow is crafty fluff, flower leaves are doilies, doorways are entered by unzipping them, and more. I occasionally had to remind myself to stop staring at an enemy’s adorable button eyes and stomp on it before it killed me.

It’s worth noting too that many of the enemies and environments are not just common through all the Yoshi titles, but gentle nods to Yoshi’s Island. The blooming flowers in the first stage, the first boss, and some of the game’s general pacing all pay homage to (without being painfully overt copies of) one of Yoshi’s most famous adventures. Those familiar with the classic will be pleasantly surprised at some of the familiar faces.

Ravel And Unravel

Each level sends Yoshi through a differently-themed platforming adventure. Yoshi must run, jump, climb, and fend off enemies using yarn-themed-spins on his usual attacks. He can eat enemies and turned them into, not eggs, but balls of yarn. His flutter jump is still intact, as is the ground pound. Yoshi can also consume occasional power-ups such as fire or watermelons to burn enemies or spit seeds, respectively.

Hidden “?” blocks in levels can unlock new areas, reveal gems or collectables, or change the stage when you hit them with a ball of yarn or an enemy. Those necessary to progress are in plain sight, but some are completely invisible until you touch them or throw something at them, resulting in a lot of time spent flinging yarn balls into the void, hoping to discover something. Sometimes collectables will be inside big, cushy squares of yarn or fabric that look solid from the outside, but can be walked through. Other areas are revealed by gobbling up a loose thread. You’ll have to canvas each level very closely to find everything.

Yoshi’s Woolly World offers plenty of opportunity to make things as challenging or as simple as you like.

It’s worth it, though, as each level has five flowers and five skeins of yarn hidden within. Collecting all the flowers in all the levels unlocks a special challenge level at the end of the game. Gather all five skeins of yarn in a level to assemble into one of Yoshi’s differently-colored pals, who you can then play as. There’s no difference between the Yoshis other than a cosmetic one, but it’s fun finding all of them nonetheless. The game also keeps track of how many hearts you ended the level with (a max of 20) and if you collected all 20 of the special stamp gems. Gather enough throughout various levels, and you’ll net new stamps for Miiverse.

The difficulty curve is gentle–you have a lot of health, though later enemies will do more damage, and early levels have very few destructive mechanics. The game does amp things up a bit around late World 3, and by World 5 I was dying repeatedly as I puzzled through some particularly finicky platforming. Yoshi’s Woolly World offers plenty of opportunity to make things as challenging or as simple as you like, though.

If you just want to breeze through the levels, the game is fairly easy, and the addition of Mellow Mode (Yoshi with wings) simplifies it even further, so even younger players or those unfamiliar with platformers can enjoy. Dying repeatedly will net you an invincibility egg for the remainder of the level. There’s no “life” system, so you can die again and again and just reappear at the last checkpoint. This may sound too forgiving, but with Mellow turned off trying to score all the collectables, you’ll be in for a challenge. Some of the yarn skeins and flowers are on the other side of serious platforming challenges. Between this and Mellow Mode, Yoshi’s Woolly World strikes an excellent difficulty balance for players of many skill levels to enjoy.

Next: Gameplay types, and our final score