Yoshi’s Woolly World
OverviewPlatform: Wii U
Does Yoshi’s return to home consoles live up to the legacy of its Super NES forbearer?
Yoshi’s first solo platforming adventure, 1995’s Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, is an absolute classic. In its day, it looked and sounded unlike anything else and brought to bear distinct gameplay and level design that meant it became more than just another Mario title. However, the resulting sub-series suffered from diminishing returns through its three sequels, eventually being farmed out by Nintendo to developer Arzest who created last year’s disappointingly workmanlike Yoshi’s New Island for 3DS.
With Yoshi’s Woolly World the series feels like it’s finally back on track. Helmed by Good-Feel, the developer responsible for the critically acclaimed Kirby’s Epic Yarn, the game may not be as ambitious in design as it is in presentation but it does manage to recapture the spirit of its 16-bit forbearer.
If you couldn’t already tell, the game’s world is built entirely out of a variety of colourful fabrics. While this may be seem a little too similar to Epic Yarn’s main motif, it actually continues the stylised aesthetics that began with Yoshi’s Island’s crayon drawn world and continued with the art materials of Yoshi’s Story of Nintendo 64. As such, the fabric theme is a great fit for the series even if it doesn’t manifest a great deal in the actual gameplay. Some parts riff on it a little, such as Yoshi’s yarn eggs tying up or transforming certain enemies when hit, but moment-to-moment this is ostensibly a classic Yoshi platformer. Our starring dinosaur maintains his familiar hallmarks, being able to perform extended ‘flutter’ jumps, lick up enemies with his tongue and hurl eggs. To the joy of many, Baby Mario and his accompanying escort mechanic is omitted as in Yoshi’s Story and, as with Epic Yarn, there is no lives system nor a discernible penalty for dying except being sent back to the last checkpoint.
A notable new addition for the series is the inclusion of co-operative play, allowing you and a second player to tackle the game as two separate Yoshis. At times the game doesn’t feel designed for an extra player due to some cramped areas and a camera that doesn’t pull back enough. However, this is a rarity and thanks to the ability to continuously flutter jump and the negligible penalty for one of you dying, these niggles rarely get in the way of the fun.
Woolly World also includes Amiibo support which allows pretty much any of Nintendo’s ‘toys to life’ figures to be scanned in for additional Yoshi skins based on said figures. So, you can add the game to the gradually growing list of games that actually justify owning Amiibo.
If there’s one criticism that can be levelled at Woolly World it’s that the game arguably leans a little too much on its Super NES roots. As hinted at previously, it delivers almost the same gameplay from the original Yoshi’s Island and never fully explores any concepts that the fabric theme could bring about. What’s more is that you’ll recognise pretty much the entire cast of enemies and bosses from the original. Though many of them return in slightly different forms, often flipping the script on how you need to take them down, it would’ve been nice to see a few more surprises in this department. On a related note, the boss battles are maybe the single weakest part of the experience. Continuing the trend of over-familiarity, several of them turn up multiple times, albeit in differing forms, and are mostly quick and straightforward to beat. The final boss in particular is far too easy to the point of anti-climax, especially when compared to his appearance in the awesome conclusion of Yoshi’s Island. Overall, the bosses feel under-cooked compared both to the rest of the experience and the original game.
However, Good-Feel ultimately delivers the game that it needed to, successfully recapturing the vibrancy, charm and inventiveness of the Super NES original. As with the best games bearing the Nintendo logo, Yoshi’s Woolly World somehow delivers an experience that will please both core and casual players alike. If you love platformers, this is a must-play.