With fluffy wool and yarn balls at the ready, Yoshi returns for a fully fledged, naturally adorable and truly magical outing on the Wii U. Nintendo’s struck gold once again with another must-have title for the home console, knitting together a platformer paradise suitable for all.
From the developer of Kirby’s Epic Yarn and published by Nintendo, Yoshi’s Woolly World features cute-as-a-button gameplay with six worlds of effortlessly gorgeous and diverse levels to satiate players of all skill levels. Stretching across eight levels per world, players are tasked with piecing together Craft Island’s inhabitants after Kamek launched his dastardly plan, turning all the Yoshis into several wool pieces. Having scattered their threaded remains across each world, Green and Red Yoshi are the only two survivors and, as such, are tasked with the perilous journey to gather all the Wonder Wools and sew their dinosaur friends back to life.
Yoshi’s Woolly World gives players the chance to seamlessly switch between two different modes: Classic and Mellow. With Classic mode, you’ll be able to experience the highs and pitfalls of a Yoshi game, while in the distinctly easier Mellow mode, Yoshi will sprout flutter wings in order to pass over pitfalls and avoid enemies or obstacles with the push of a button. But the ability to customise your yarn ball throw to either hasty or patient is what revitalises the game’s classic style, particularly if you want to ramp up the difficulty by way of accuracy. The side-scrolling platformer is also compatible with four controllers including the Wii U GamePad with off-TV gameplay, the Wii U Pro Controller, a Wii Remote, and the Wii Classic Controller Pro with an attached Wii Remote, giving plenty of choice.
As the name of the game suggests, Craft Island and all of its associated worlds are created from knitted thread or stitched fabric. Each level produces its own aesthetic quirks, whether through spools of thread, sewn scarves, threaded butterflies, cotton wool snow, buttons, zips with flames, and even blankets with shadowed platforms. Its beautifully detailed and deeply imaginative level design will produce awe-filled gasps on a regular basis, making players feel a little giddy with glee. Yoshi’s Woolly World is simply gorgeous from top to bottom and showcases some utterly delightful creativity to constantly gobble up and digest, mimicking our charming friend.
Through natural woods, fiery woollen lava, dreamscapes and over coloured pipes and rainbows, players won’t just feel mesmerised by the game’s aesthetics but also by its fluid control scheme. Instead of throwing eggs at various woolly enemies, Yoshi can unravel enemies into pools of thread, or string them together by aiming yarn balls. And, has been the case throughout the franchise, Yoshi can swallow up enemies, spit them out or digest them into extra yarn balls. Of course, those undeniably cute bops and squeals he makes when flutter jumping are back to cocoon us in a warm, fluffy burrito blanket, inevitably melting our hearts with his endearing characteristics.
But if you were one of the fans who believed Yoshi’s Woolly World would be a pushover – myself included – we were sorely incorrect. In terms of difficulty, Good-Feel has balanced the game wonderfully. While you won’t be throwing any yarn controllers at the TV – akin to Donkey Kong difficulty levels – you won’t be tearing your hair out in frustration with easy-as-pie levels either. In order to gather all the levels collectibles – five smiley flowers, five wonder wools, Miiverse stamps hidden in jewels, and hearts – you’ll be suitably challenged.
With countless secret areas to unveil, it’s platforming nirvana built specifically for Nintendo fans. Despite its Classic and Mellow modes though, players may feel an itch for extra challenges in a much more difficult mode. And though you can unlock special levels in each world after all 40 smiley flowers are collected, these are just a small taste of a meaty challenge, meant for nibbling only. A mode for experienced players would only have added to the joy Woolly’s World brings.
Past Yoshi games have undoubtedly contained a few dud levels, yet this HD platformer only seems to get more entertaining the deeper players tread. Some of the best levels arrive with Good-Feel’s ability to create intrigue and wonder. From sitting on the back of a woollen dog named Poochy – yes, it’s as deliriously cute as it sounds – to entering doors and experiencing Yoshi power-up sequences with Mega, Motorcycle, Mermaid, Plane, Umbrella and Digger Yoshi. Each world serves up fantastic levels such as a magic carpet ride to channel your inner Disney Prince, riding down curtain rails with exhilarating speed in Sunset at Curtain Falls, or hiding in the shadows within blankets for a similar feel to Super Mario 3D World’s Shadow Play Alley. It’s a real shame the game suffers from occasional frame rate drops during a level which switches perspectives, though, jarring play when Yoshi moves through doors in Duplicitous Delve for example.
But it’s the extensive variation between levels and evenly spaced checkpoints that means players will never get bored on their first, second or even third play-through. And with five Wonder Wools distributed throughout each level, finding them and unlocking a different Yoshi pattern to play with is profoundly rewarding – Candyfloss Yoshi looks good enough to eat, while Alpine Yoshi is great fun for camouflage on the snowy slopes.
In each world, players will encounter one mid-boss and an end boss to thwart their progress. Though they are worth their weight in gold when it comes to comedic value, their easy-to-spot weaknesses and ground pound to stun mechanic is a little wearisome for experienced players. Aside from these more mundane moments, players can refresh the game by using certain amiibo. Tapping either a Yarn Yoshi or a standard Yoshi amiibo to the Wii U GamePad will unlock double Yoshi – similar to the cherry found in Super Mario 3D World. Though it will only give players control of one Yoshi copy, it mixes up gameplay with amusing consequences. Yoshi’s Woolly World is also compatible with every amiibo character – bar from Pokemon – and touching the GamePad with a design such as Zelda or Link will import their Yoshi pattern into the game. It’s a simple yet effective mechanic, and I can’t quite mock the appeal.
Playing the game in single-player mode is justly rewarding, but choosing a friend to play alongside in co-operative local play can be hilariously frenetic. Playing with another in the first world’s Bounceabout Woods was a delectable treat. From swallowing and spitting each other out, to focusing on taking down bigger enemies together, Yoshi’s Woolly World is enjoyable with two players from the beginning. With both players frequenting the screen, if one gets left behind you’ll simply turn into an egg and take a short flight over to the player ahead. You’ll have to work together as a team to reach the end of the level, or you could just swallow the player up if you’re feeling particularly mean-spirited, dragging them to the end as a yarn egg.
Of notable merit in Yoshi’s Woolly World is the background and level music. Much like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the musical tones of the jungle and ice worlds are particularly inspiring. I’ve often just left the game on in the Scrapbook Theatre in order to listen to the stunning and idyllic tones of Craft Island. With its relaxed pace, the game can be completed within 25 hours, though gathering all the collectibles will take it over 30 plus, and largely depends on skill level.
With its beautiful aesthetic appeal, cutesy gameplay and some suitably tricky levels, Yoshi’s Woolly World knits together impeccably. A near perfect game, it’s a must-own for every Nintendo fan. So make sure you tie up your loose ends by bringing an extra needle and thread, as you’ll be playing this game for hours on end.