Yoshi’s Woolly World on Wii U
Yoshi’s Woolly World has definitely been on the radar of many Nintendo fans since the green dinosaur was confirmed to be making his way to the Wii U back at the start of 2013. It may have had something to do with the fact it marked the first time that Yoshi would star in his own game on a home console in 20 years; or maybe it’s because of its adorable visual style.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is probably one of the cutest games you’ll ever play. Its delightful yarn stylized worlds and focus on using textile as a gameplay mechanic, is something that Good-Feel has certainly refined since they first attempted it in Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Even down to the fine details, Good-Feel has woven a beautiful world, with characters to match. Shy Guys patrol platforms with crochet hooks, always at the ready to unpick their enemies. Yoshi’s feet turn to little ice skates when he dances his way across an icy platform, and his legs turn into a little propeller when he’s doing a double jump to boost him up onto a ledge that’s just within reach.
Yoshi’s Woolly World constantly had me smiling or whistling along to its wonderful soundtrack, and even during periods of frustration when I couldn’t find a certain collectible, I never stayed angry for too long. Yoshi’s Woolly World has charm in spades, and will have you cooing from start to finish. Be it from Poochy’s victory jig after finding a collectible, or from the fuzz of stray fibers surrounding each knitted character.
Good-Feel didn’t just make the game look great with its yarn aesthetics, it plays on them too. Yoshi’s tongue can be used to unknit areas of the environment to reveal hidden areas with collectibles stashed away within. A personal highlight in Yoshi’s Woolly World, was having a Boo creep up behind me, only to rebound a yarn ball off a wall in front of me, and right into his face, allowing me to jump on board and ride him up to an otherwise out-of-reach area. Now that is genius.
What wasn’t so genius however were the boss battles which all felt too similar to one another. Be it a Piranha, Monty the Mole or any other boss, it all felt the same just with a different character skin lashed over the top and a few tweaks to the move set in order to fit the character’s look. Had the sub-bosses of each world been replaced with a much more intuitive and enjoyable level similar to the S levels (more on that later), then the tediousness of the main bosses may not have been so apparent. Unfortunately 12 of your standard 48 levels feature one of these uninspired boss battles and can be unpicked on the first try.
Some levels in Yoshi’s Woolly World were incredibly enjoyable, offering completely different experiences that Nintendo fans would never have experienced before. But on odd occasions the graphical style felt like a means of distracting the player from the same recycled platforming tricks that Nintendo has been using for years on end. I’m all for retaining some of the classic Nintendo magic, but the games that have really struck gold for Nintendo have been the ones that completely revamp anything that came before it.
Yoshi’s Woolly World loves its collectibles. Whether it’s the five different colored yarn balls you have to scour each level for, the 20 stamps in each level that can be found through picking up beads, or the five flowers to collect, each level has so many things to find. Any completionist out there is going to be playing this for quite some time.
While this does offer a ton of replayability for this ilk of gamer, finding some of these collectibles may be a frustrating experience for others. The hidden areas within the yarn environments were rarely even hinted at, and required a lot of jumping and walking into walls in the hope Yoshi stumbles onto these treasure coves. Had some of the trickier collectibles seemed more attainable then it would have felt like less of a chore, but as it stands these collectibles do tarnish the experience. This is a shame as many players won’t get to enjoy the truly brilliant S levels. These S levels offer the trickiest and most enjoyable experiences in the game but can only be unlocked by collecting all the flowers across a certain world.
Yoshi’s Wooly World consists of just over 48 levels (including the aforementioned S levels), most of which hark back to the classic level style that we’ve grown accustomed to from Nintendo platformers. The gameplay is simple to learn. Perhaps too simple as experienced players are more than likely going to find the first half of the levels a bit of a drag and may even whiz through the entire game in under 10 hours. That is if you don’t focus on grabbing the plethora of collectibles and merely dash for the finish.
If you happen to be having a hard time or just want to mix up your gameplay, there are badges that can be bought with collectible beads which provide players extra abilities. These badges range from making items in the world gravitate toward you, bringing Poochy along (who is particularly useful for collectibles) or just giving yourself some extra health. It definitely will help novice players and younger ones alike get past tricky levels, but I tended to find myself completely ignoring these badges altogether. That, and the amiibo support.
See, I opted into buying the version of Yoshi’s Woolly World with the stupidly adorable Yarn Yoshi amiibo. I didn’t intend to really use it with the game, but for the sake of this review I tapped it on the Gamepad and checked out the functionality. The Yarn Yoshi amiibo simply adds another Yoshi onto your screen which will mimic the exact moves of the one you’re controlling. Controlling these two Yoshi’s, while useful as you could eat and spit the other out as a weapon, felt too much of a chore to control in single player. The functionality might come into its own in two player, but then again, you don’t need the Yarn Yoshi amiibo to play the game on multiplayer.
When Yoshi’s Woolly World gets it right, it smashes it out of the park. Creative levels that tried different things such as transforming Yoshi into a plane, mermaid, or a racecar, is when that Nintendo sparkle shined its brightest. However, these moments of brilliance were overshadowed by a large amount of bland and unimaginative levels too focused on collecting. Your enjoyment of Yoshi’s Woolly World all comes down to how much you enjoy searching for collectibles in an incredibly cute and beautiful world. If that’s not for you, then Yoshi’s Wooly World may feel a bit too fluffed out.