Arts and crafts have never been so much fun. Prepare to indulge yourself in the aesthetically gorgeous crochet land of Yoshi’s Woolly World, available now in Europe and Australia for the WiiU. Please note it’s also scheduled for release in Japan and the USA later this year. It can be played in single or local 2 player co-op.
The plot of this game is thin to say the least. It begins with Yoshi relaxing on his table top island when an evil wizard named Kamek unravels all of his woolen dinosaur friends into balls of yarn. Kamek escapes on his broomstick dropping some of the yarn into various levels across the world map as he goes. Yoshi’s job is to reassemble his friends by collecting all the yarn as he chases Kamak across the game’s map.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is a traditional 2D platform game built using lavishly colourful 3D graphics. The gimmick of the game is that all of the textures and visuals comprise of wool and other craft material, a style first touched upon in a prior Nintendo title ‘Kirby’s Epic Yarn’. Although this craft graphics gimmick has been used before it’s really been perfected for Yoshi. The Kirby title was a genuinely flat 2D title, and although visually appealing the textures, colours and fine detail that has gone into the 3D models of this Yoshi game really brings this style to life. This game runs very smoothly in stunning HD and the level of detail in these textures is so fine that you can even notice the fibers woven into the wool itself. I cannot overstate how lovely this game looks.
When I bought this game I had assumed that it was going to be a light, family game in the vein of titles like Kirby’s Adventure Wii, however it turns out that I had underestimated it. Despite this games family friendly look it can actually be fairly challenging, especially if you are aiming for 100% completion. If you strip away the novel graphics what you are left with is a traditional Yoshi game with a lot of the mechanics found in the original Yoshi’s Island series.
Yoshi is still able to strain a bit of extra air while in mid jump, eat & spit out enemies, lay eggs (well, balls of wool in this instance), and throw these eggs as projectiles. As far as the game’s structure and design goes the platforming found here is similar to games like New Super Mario Bros U with lots of collectables to seek out, hidden areas, pipes, puzzles etc. The game is very linear with levels that unlock on the world map one by one with the option of returning to previous levels if you wish to do so.
This game does boast a couple of neat unique features. It’s not uncommon in modern platform games for there to be multiple layers to a stage. Games like the new Donkey Kong Country titles or Mutant Mudd often have playable areas in the background which the player can transition to in order to progress. Yoshi does something similar in that levels can be split between the back and foreground, however when Yoshi travels from one to the other the camera will spin around, effectively flipping the stage over like a record. This makes for some great platforming puzzles and a great way to hide secret areas.
Another neat feature is the inclusion of timed segments where Yoshi’s transitions into a new form, such as an umbrella or a motor bike. The aim is to reach the end of the segment before the time runs out. Each form gives Yoshi fun new abilities such as gliding or digging and helps to pick up the pace of a stage as they have to be played a lot more frantically. My favorite of these segments were the motor bike areas as they were incredibly speedy and Yoshi was even able to defy gravity. It felt a bit like classic Sonic the Hedgehog in that respect.
The game sounds rather nice with no synthesized instruments as far as I could tell. The game features a proper studio recorded soundtrack of light, easy on the ear melodies and a lot of acoustic guitar. The sound effects are pleasant and like always Yoshi has a variety of cute chirps which he yells out as he progresses through the stages.
The difficulty of this game is something which I’m divided on. I thought the game was moderately challenging however for some reason I felt compelled to score 100% in all the stages as I went along. If I missed any of the collectables or failed to beat a stage with full health I kept retrying it until I achieved a gold star for perfect completion. The reason I chose to do this was because I was aware that simply beating the stages wasn’t challenging enough for me. If you find yourself struggling to beat any of the stages you have a couple of options. You can use the jewels you collect throughout the stages to buy some additional power ups such as stronger projectiles or immunity from particular hazards. If you are still finding the game too hard you can always resort to a lower difficulty setting known as ‘Mellow Mode’.
Mellow Mode gives the player a few advantages over playing in Classic Mode. First off, Yoshi is given a pair of wings allowing him to glide through stages. When I first saw this feature I thought it looked pretty overpowering, however on closer inspection Yoshi can’t actually fly freely around the stage as he can only use them to glide and can’t gain any altitude. Technically it is possible to glide in much the same way in Classic mode, the only difference being that in classic mode you need to keep pressing the jump button with perfect timing, whereas in Mellow mode you only need to hold the jump button. In addition to the wings you also begin each stage with full health as opposed to half health and you are also given the option to skip entire stages in exchange for a small number of jewels
As far as the difficulty is concerned the game caters to a spectrum of players with various skill levels. If you’re finding the stages too easy you can push yourself by trying to score 100%. If you’re finding them too difficult you can try buying power ups or switch to Mellow mode at any time, even mid level.
Like most first party Nintendo games Yoshi controls really well. He’s very responsive, you can control his direction in mid air and precision platforming is no problem here. One thing I did notice is that if I pressed the button to shoot wool too quickly after pressing the button to eat enemies then the shoot button would not respond. This is because I had to wait for Yoshi’s tongue to fully retract before I was able to shoot. I thought this was an oversight as it doesn’t really feel natural. If Yoshi could aim his projectile attacks and eat enemies simultaneously I’d say these controls were perfect.
The game offers a lot of options as far as control goes. It can be played in single or local 2 player co-op with a wide range of different controllers. The WiiU gamepad, pro-controller, Wiimote and Wii classic controller are all compatible with this game. Although there is no option for complete button rebinding each player can individually choose from a couple of preassembled button options before starting the game.
As far as replayability goes this game is littered with collectables. Each stage has 30 items to collect and each island includes an unlockable special stage, so unless you’ve been very thorough by the time you’ve reached the end you should still have plenty to mop up.
Although this game hasn’t been out for long I have sunk a decent amount of time into it and so far I’ve yet to notice any bugs or glitches. I’ve been playing an unpatched, physical copy and the build seems perfectly stable. I suspect that the over world plays at a lower frame rate than the actual stages for some reason (maybe it’s just me but the motion seemed a bit more jagged when selecting a stage), but aside from this the game performs brilliantly.
Overall I was extremely pleased and a bit surprised with this purchase. What I was expecting was a novel, family friendly game but on closure inspection this is actually a highly enjoyable Nintendo classic. For me this stands shoulder to shoulder with many of the previous Yohi’s Island games and is a fantastic addition to the WiiU library.
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