Yoshi’s games in the past have left me mixed. On the one hand, Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario World 2 is a remarkable sequel, one that changed the core gameplay that we’ve come to expect from the series, while revealing something innovatively new in the process. On the other, there was Yoshi’s Story for Nintendo 64, and…well, it didn’t quite have the same level of quality, let’s just say.
Now we have Yoshi’s Woolly World, a game that follows the same level of design as Kirby’s Epic Yarn, as Yoshi, his allies, enemies and the worlds he rummages into are all made of some sort of fabric. This isn’t really explained in full, nor does it need to be. You just accept this wondrous world for what it is, and then set out amongst your journey.
For those of you who thought that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was too challenging a platformer for its own good, Yoshi’s Woolly World will provide some contrast for you. This is built more for an all-ages sort of platforming crowd, with a few challenges here and there scattered amongst an otherwise fairly easy game. That’s not to say it’s without its rewards though.
There are a few levels that take advantage of this ingenious formula, putting Yoshi’s platforming to the test as he avoids obstacles and continues to find all the collectibles in each area. Of course, there are also a handful that are of the “cakewalk” variety, which you can get through in one shot without missing a beat. So it’s about a fairly good mix, although there’s also a Mellow Mode you can activate should the game become too struggle-some for its own good.
As for the gameplay, it’s classic Yoshi, with yarn-ball throwing, enemy eating and jump floating to go around. It’s pretty good, and the ability to look for hidden secrets by eating walls, shooting yarn balls and even pushing things aside is neat as well. However, that doesn’t indicate you’ll find everything, and you may be scratching your head in terms of stuff you can’t quite locate.
There is some slight imbalance with the boss fights, however. They can be rather frustrating, and even when you figure things out, sometimes they’ll pull the cloth-draped rug from under you. They’re just a small part of the game, though, and don’t forget you have Mellow Mode.
Badges go a long way in helping things along. Using beads that you collect in the game to purchase them, you can unlock everything from larger yarn balls to a helpful friend, Poochy, to assist you when you need it the most. They’re optional, but ideal to have on hand.
The game also supports two-player co-op, and while it isn’t exactly a fundamental addition to Woolly World, we’ll certainly take it, as it adds a fun degree of play for those who wish to go along with their kids on a journey, or, at the very least, a couple that argues which Yoshi is cuter. (Look, you can’t win – they’re ALL cute.)
While the presentation isn’t over-the-top for Wii U standards, it’s very good, with the worlds lovingly designed by Nintendo’s team. The animations are cute as well, and finding hidden secrets in each of these strewn worlds can be a bit of a pleasure. The music’s not bad either, and certainly not as annoying as, say, “THE APPLES” from Yoshi’s Story. (That got buried in my head way too many times.)
Although Yoshi’s Woolly World won’t go down as the most challenging platformer for the Wii U (Mario and Donkey Kong have him lapped), it does provide a cute little experience that players of all ages will certainly enjoy. There are lots of collectibles to track down, and the two-player mode offers a fun little diversion from the single player stuff. If you don’t mind stringing along with the smaller hiccups, you’ll find plenty to like here.