Is Yoshi’s newest game a good fit for players, or is its design just not form-fitting enough?
Rejoice, fabric fans, the sequel to the Nintendo Wii title ‘Kirby’s Epic Yarn‘ is here! Join Kirby and Prince Fluff once again as they take on the dastardly Kamek through challenging levels using their signature abilities such as the flutter kick, ground pound, and… use their tongues to grab enemies, swallow them, and turn them into eggs? When could Kirby do this? I know he has that yarn-whip-thing, but… I played the right game, didn’t I? Wait, why is this Kirby game called ‘Yoshi’s Wooly World‘? It’s a Yoshi game? A spiritual successor, not a direct sequel? Ah, man, whoops. Let me try that again.
Nintendo’s newest fabric-friendly game, Yoshi’s Wooly World has finally arrived! Both spiritual successor to the 2010 Wii title ‘Kirby’s Epic Yarn’, as well as the first console Yoshi game since the 1995 SNES hit ‘Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island‘, Yoshi’s Wooly World certainly has a lot to live up to. Will Yoshi’s latest adventure feel as comfortable and cozy as those in his previous games, or is the comfy-cozy yarn look nothing more than a fashion disaster of gaming?
Yoshi’s Wooly World begins with the Yarn Yoshis enjoying a peaceful day on Craft Island as they go about their daily lives. The relaxation is soon put to an end however by an unwarranted visit from Bowser’s lead Magikoopa, Kamek. With little explanation, Kamek begins using his awful magic on the poor Yarn Yoshi clan, unraveling all of the Yoshis, save two, reducing them to nothing more than bundles of yarn (which is honestly a bit horrific). Kamek, however, did not seem to account for the fact that yarn is not weightless. While Kamek struggled to get off of the ground, the remaining two Yarn Yoshis took the opportunity to attack the Magikoopa, ripping his bag just as he achieved liftoff and followed him, collecting the yarn trail that he was unintentionally leaving along the way back to his master’s castle.
Yoshi’s Wooly World is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer. Staying true to the mechanics present in its predecessors, Wooly World takes place in the form of levels, although these levels can be chosen by moving the player’s Yarn Yoshi character around an interactive 3D map. The levels themselves feel extremely familiar, in a good way, and are quite easy to get into. While the first levels, perhaps even the first world, of the game has a rather back-to-basics/boot camp feel about it (as it should), Wooly World soon proves that cute does not necessarily mean easy. The levels within Yoshi’s Wooly World become progressively more and more challenging at a difficulty curve that, while definitely not anything the lines of “hardcore”, are quite noticeable.
At the end if each level players are also given a collectibles score card, which should not be surprising for those who are familiar with the series. Within each level are 5 Yarn collectibles, 5 Flowers, and 20 Stamp Beads. Collecting these items within each level not only increases your score at the end of the level, but also provides rewards; Collecting all of the yarn awards a new Yoshi, collecting all 40 the flowers present within the current world provides a bonus level, and collecting Stamp Beads reward the player with some neat Miiverse Stamps. Aside from these collectibles, players are scored on yet one more thing; health. That’s right; you had better have 20 out of 20 health when you finish a level if you truly want to 100% a level. Fortunately (or possibly unfortunately for those challenge-hungry players), this is not as difficult as it sounds. Yoshi can still get hit during levels, in fact he only starts out with 10 of 20 health. Scattered throughout each levels are HP-restoring checkpoints, and Mystery Clouds containing hearts. So long as you’re observant, you should be alright. Just be careful during boss fights!
All of Yoshi’s primary mechanics return once again in Yoshi’s Wooly World. Yarn Yoshi can run, jump, flutter kick, crouch, use his tongue to grab both items and enemies, and eat enemies to turn them into eggs… or yarn… something like that. There are also several transformations such as an umbrella and a motorbike that, while new in design, are familiar in concept. Some old transformations like Mole Yoshi even make a return! There is a new primary mechanic in Wooly World, however; Badges. Like the stackable items within other Yoshi games, Badges are items that give Yoshi a boost for an entire level. Having trouble with collectibles in fiery levels? Make yourself immune to fire and lava! Bad aim? Make all of your yarn balls giant! Although certain Badges can be a bit game-breaking, these items can really help players out in a bind, and can also help reduce frustration. Badges are not free however (usually)! The beads (this game’s version of the normally appearing coins) collected during levels and bonus rounds are used to purchase Badges. Badges may be purchased before, or any time during, a level. While always accessible, Badges are NOT stackable! If you buy a big yarn ball badge for 1000 beads and switch to a pit-immunity badge by paying 7500 beads, expect to fork over another 1000 beads if you want your big yarn balls back for that level!
Yarn Yoshis are kind of like toys, right? Do you know what else is kind of like a toy? That’s right; an amiibo! As you have surely figured out by now, Yoshi’s Wooly World features amiibo support! There are teo kinds of amiibo support present within Yoshi’s Wooly World. The first allows the unlocking of costumes. There is a costume present within Wooly World for most of the amiibo out there. Do you have a Shulk amiibo? Now it’s Shulk Yoshi time! What about a Luigi amiibo? Luigi Yoshi like-a that! While relatively trivial, collecting the amiibo costumes is honestly loads of fun. It’s a nice way to reward amiibo owners without giving them a blatant advantage over others. The second way to use amiibo, however, does run more along the lines of being advantageous. The now-purchasable Yarn Yoshi, when scanned during a level, will allow players to play with two Yoshis at the same time. This Double Yoshi mode was created in order to bypass certain parts of levels where having a co-op partner would be optimal but the player is currently without one. The Yarn Yoshi amiibo can also be used to save a pattern from any currently-rescued Yarn Yoshi onto that amiibo. Amusingly, the Super Smash Brothers and Super Mario World amiibo also allow for Double Yoshi Mode to initiate. Rather than scanning in a Yarn Yoshi however, a green plastic-like Yoshi simply named “Yoshi” is scanned in. The SSB and SMW amiibo cannot be overwritten in Wooly World however, and will retain the same look always.
Yoshi’s Wooly World is very focused on its unique art style, but was there truly enough attention to detail? Simply put; yes, there was. The amount if effort put into the graphical quality of the game is incredibly impressive and never fails to remain cheery – even in the more intense of levels. The characters are incredibly amusing in their movements and interactions, and do a great job of seeming lifelike. Interacting with scenery is also a very joyful experience, as you never really know in which whimsical way altering parts of a level will go.
The music of Yoshi’s Wooly World is a good fit for the game as well. While it will never win an award for being an outstandingly memorable OST, the feel of each song within each level is always an appropriate one, and never seems to drop its playful toy box demeanor regardless of the current situation.
Yoshi’s Wooly World is solid. Like, really solid. This newest installment of the Yoshi franchise is certainly one of the best in its family, and makes an incredibly enjoyable game both in terms of how the game plays and how the game feels when being played. Even if Yoshi isn’t your normal thing, I would recommend this for anyone looking for a moderate platforming challenge, or perhaps those of you who love co-op gaming with your best pal. Regardless of reason, playing Yoshi’s Wooly World is about as satisfying as donning your favorite scarf on a cool autumn day. Just to make myself clear, doing that is very satisfying. Seriously, I love scarves.
Final Verdict: 4 / 5
Available on: Wii U (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Nintendo ; Developer: Nintendo ; Players: 2; Released: October 16, 2015 ; ESRB: E for Everyone ; MSRP: $49.99