Crocheting Your Heart –
With adorable visuals and top notch level design, Yoshi’s Woolly World is not only one of the best Yoshi games ever made, it also easily stands as one of the best games on Wii U.
Making his debut in Super Mario World over 25 years ago, Yoshi has been around for a long time, starring in a few of his own games and even branched off onto several spin-offs. Woolly World, however, is a welcomed and thoughtful return to Yoshi’s Island (SNES), the fan favorite of the series.
Like the Wii’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn before it, Yoshi’s Woolly World visual aesthetic is the main stand out feature. Everything is creatively made out of wool including enemies, water, the environment and even Yoshi himself. The result is a charming visual style that is one of the best looking games on Nintendo’s platform. The soundtrack is also not-notch Nintendo quality as each tune usually retains a mellow but catchy approach that fits perfectly with the gameplay and cuddly visual style.
Besides the ingenious looks, Woolly World’s gameplay and level design is just as strong as his first solo SNES adventure. Just about each and every stage introduces something completely new, from enemies to environmental puzzles, which keeps things fresh and interesting from beginning to end. In fact, Woolly World’s progression, level balance and lack of repeating elements is easily some of the best design I have played in the last decade. Each stage is so carefully and tightly designed, it is like playing level 1-1 from the original Super Mario Bros every stage; that constant sense of amazement, wonder and curiosity about what is going to be thrown at you next puts Woolly World head and shoulders above most platformers. The first moment of each stage also teaches the player how these new elements work, like a spring board, cloud platform, wind, or water. Even the Super Mario 3D World-like overworld map is creatively designed and the Yoshi transformations, like a plane that turns Yoshi into a 2D shooter, give the player something new in each and every stage. The visual design will draw you in but the superb design will make you stay.
Don’t let the cutesy visuals fool you, Woolly World can be a challenging game. While reaching the end of each stage usually isn’t a cause for alarm thanks in part to play-at-your-own-pace timerless levels, the challenge comes from the addicting collect-a-thon. Each stage has hidden Miiverse stamps, bonus staging flowers, and yarn rolls to collect. And to increase the difficulty, players are encouraged to finish each stage without taking damage as the final bonus category. Collecting these items is actually surprisingly challenging as a result of the fantastic level design. I cannot tell you how many times I played a stage as meticulously as can be only to find out I somehow missed a few items. If you wish to earn perfect scores, players will need to replay stages, searching high and low. This backtracking, however, is not viewed negatively because each stage is highly entertaining.
Having OCD and collecting everything does have its perks. Collecting all the yarn rolls will unlock Yoshi skins and collecting all the flowers in a world will unlock one highly sophisticated and challenging level. For the players who want to collect everything, you will be rewarded for your efforts. But for those who casually want to play through the game, you will have just as much fun. This pacing is perfectly set.
Yoshi’s Woolly World also has a wealth of optional content to take advantage of for those willing and able. For example, most amiibo sitting on your shelf can be scanned to unlock a new character skin for Yoshi; the Samus, Meta Knight and Donkey Kong are some of my favorites. At the same time, the Yarn Yoshi can be scanned at any time during gameplay to drop in an additional Yoshi, similar to the double cherry power-up found in recent Mario games. Here, the player can swallow his fellow Yoshi and spit him out to reach higher platforms, for example. I actually took advantage of this a couple times during my play through just to nail that out-of-reach yarn roll and flower. Additionally, two players can play cooperatively, each taking control of a different colored Yoshi. Co-op, however, can actually make the game more challenging as it is easy to bump into your friend or activate a falling platform to kill your buddy. It is clear that most stages were designed around the single player experience but having the co-op option is a nice, friendly touch.
Yoshi’s Woolly World enhances the Yoshi platform experience also by introducing the badge factor. Before each stage, the player has the option to spend gems for badges that buff Yoshi like calling in Poochey, being able to fall down a pit and survive, or being resistance to lava. But like the amiibo functionality and co-op, this is entire optional but there for players who might be having trouble with a certain stage. Unlike other games based on score or time, Yoshi simply focuses on the gameplay experience.
The swallow-and-toss mechanic from Yoshi’s Island makes its welcomed return and works perfectly with the Wii U Gamepad or Pro controller. Not having to rely on gimmicky motion controls is a sigh of relief and controlling Yoshi, from tossing yarn balls to his patented flutter jump, is pixel perfect. Even the oversized bosses cap each world with a new twist. The final boss, without giving away spoilers, is also a nice nod to the final boss of Yoshi’s Island.
I don’t think I can say enough good things about Yoshi’s Woolly World. This must-own Wii U title is a reason to own a Wii U and further amplifies Nintendo position in producing some of the best games the world has ever played.
Do You Remember: Yoshi’s Safari (SNES) and Yoshi Topsy-Turvy (GBA)
Much Better Than: Yoshi’s New Island (3DS)
Also Try: Yoshi Island DS
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com