Yoshi’s Woolly World is almost exactly the game I thought it would be. It’s gorgeous, no doubt, but it also arrives with gameplay that’s rather uninspired.
Developed by Good-Feel, the same studio that worked on Kirby’s Epic Yarn, the latest adventure for Yoshi is one that arrives with a whole lot going for it in the looks department, coupled with a bit of a mediocre pile of gameplay.
Make no mistake, there’s fun to be had in this game for those who dig Yoshi, have younger gamers in their family or want something more relaxing than challenging. However, the inspiration for Yoshi’s Woolly World starts and stops with its art design.
This game is beautiful, it’s just that it doesn’t have much else going for it.
A wonderful world of yarn and wool.
What we should focus on first and foremost is how Good-Feel absolutely nailed the look and texture of Yoshi’s Woolly World. The team has dabbled with the yarn aesthetic before with Kirby’s Epic Yarn on the Wii, but this time things feel much bigger, fuller and more visually pleasing.
Yoshi and all the other characters in the game look like plush dolls made with wool. That includes the loose strands that stand-up on these plush dolls in real life. The patchwork world around them is completed with balls of yarn, half woven scarves and quilts and a whole lot of needles.
Everything carries this yarn theme, and that means that some enemies shoot buttons, others hold pins and clouds are made of cotton.
Yes, Yoshi’s Woolly World is an absolute joy to look at it. It’s at its best moments when Good-Feel took the yarn look and actually built whole levels around the joke. For instance, one of my favorite levels puts players on curtains gliding over rods. You have to hold on to the curtains as they zip through the level, jumping and dodging much like we’ve done in Nintendo games like Donkey Kong Country.
Unfortunately, a lot of the levels just ignore the novelty of the yarn idea. It’s a texture and background instead of a full theme, and these levels serve as little more than a prettier version of a 2D platformer that’s, quite frankly, way, way, way too easy.
The only challenge is collection.
I wasn’t expecting Yoshi’s Woolly World to challenge me like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Good-Feel taught gamers what it was out to do with challenge when it released Kirby’s Epic Yarn, a game were getting hit meant losing jewels instead of dying.
However, there was a lot of promise for at least some level of difficulty in this game that goes unkept. First of all, Yoshi has a health bar in this game. He can die instantly by falling in pits, getting squashed or stepping on spikes. The game even touts a normal and mellow mode, the latter made specifically for gamers who don’t want to be challenged.
Like I said, I wasn’t expecting expert level difficulty here, but all of those components sort of suggest that the game will, at least at times, be challenging. It’s just, well, not.
There’s a lot of collection to be done in this game if you want to. It’s totally optional, but each level offers five bundles of wool and five flowers. Finding all the wool in each level unlocks a new Yoshi (which I loved), finding all the flowers spread over an entire world unlocks a new level. Finding these things, even with the reveal hidden items power badge unlocked, is hard.
But that’s just it, the only challenge in the game comes from deciding whether or not you want to compete for all the hidden items. When the levels make great use of the yarn and wool theme, you’ll want to explore every nook and cranny in order to find all this stuff. When the levels are nothing more than mediocre platformers spread over a beautiful look, you’ll get bored. I got bored by about world four, and that’s a problem.
I will say that local multiplayer does add a little spice to the experience. The difficulty can be adjusted if you’re looking to add a younger, more novice player to your run. This is great for families with kids. Young kids, precisely. If you have a little one that’s right on the cusp of gaming, switch this game to “mellow” and get them in on the action. It’s fun.
amiibo functionality that’s both awesome and confusing.
You can use your amiibo to unlock a lot of awesome Yoshi costumes in this game. Trust me, it’s great to don a red and blue Mario Yoshi complete with a mustache woven into the middle of his face.
That use of the amiibo is pretty darn cool, and it actually pushed me to pull all my amiibo off of my shelf in order to scan them.
We also received the Yarn Yoshi amiibo to use with this game, and the thing it unlocks is a little lame.
While in a level in single player mode, you can scan the Yarn Yoshi amiibo in order to activate “Double Yoshi.” This drops another Yoshi on the screen, which can be skinned with your favorite amiibo costume if you like, and it essentially serves as a second player.
However, Double Yoshi mode means that the second Yoshi mimics all of your moves. You walk, it walks. You jump, it jumps. Nintendo offers that this means “double the fun,” but I just found it to be confusing. When platforming, grabbing, climbing or gobbling up enemies, having two Yoshi’s to control was more annoying than fun.
You can disable it at any time by simply tapping the Yarn Yoshi to the GamePad once more. I went this route pretty much every time I tried it.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is a fun adventure for Nintendo fans, but it’s a bit too inconsistent to be a must-have.
When this game is on point, it’s fantastic. I’m a bit tired of 2D platformers, to be honest, but Yoshi’s Woolly World really makes the genre fun when great platforming meets its great look head on.
When Good-Feel subverts to simply using the Yarn look as nothing more than a paint job, Yoshi’s Woolly World quickly transitions to far too basic design.
This is not a challenging platformer. It can be inventive at times, but the only way to eek challenge out of the experience is to try and 100% collect everything. Yoshi’s Woolly World is, however, great for younger gamers and those looking to play with their kids or little siblings.
If you want more Yoshi in your life, give this one a go. If you can hold off, wait for the price to dip a bit and pick it up. If this game was $20, it’d be pretty darn great.
Disclaimer: We received a retail copy of Yoshi’s Woolly World with the Yarn Yoshi amiibo from Nintendo. We completed the game before starting this review.