At its very core, I always found the cutesy nature of the Yoshi series to be sort of hilarious. I mean, let’s not sugarcoat it; Yoshi and his comrades are ferocious dinosaurs that ravage the countryside, swallowing creatures with reckless abandon and occasionally throwing them around, bouncing them off walls and into the sky.
But it’s easy to forget all that, because Yoshi is so damn adorable.
Granted, the same could be said for Kirby, who is essentially a walking, talking pink sphere who is functionally equivalent to Skylar from Heroes. With Kirby receiving a fabric makeover years back with the release of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, it makes sense that Yoshi would receive the same treatment, even if it took a few months for it to release stateside.
Yoshi’s Woolly World feels like the long lost companion of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, as both games feel like fresh, novel spins on the classic formulas from previous games. If you’ve played any of the past Yoshi games from Nintendo, you’ll feel at home with Woolly World, though developer Good-Feel have managed to separate Yoshi from the rest of the pack with their unique yarn/wool aesthetic, much like they did years prior with Kirby’s Epic Yarn.
Taking place on Craft Island, the game follows the exploits of two Yarn Yoshis, who have managed to evade capture from the nefarious Kamek, who has kidnapped all the other Yoshis and turned them into yarn bundles. It’s a paper thin narrative for sure, but an unsurprising one, as by now I don’t think we need any more motivation to play a Nintendo platformer.
Despite the new visual style, Woolly World plays like many of the other games in the Yoshi series, though it hasn’t been this fun in a long while. Series’ staples return in full force, with flutter jumping, swallowing enemies, and tossing projectiles. Yoshi Transformations also make an appearance, with some stages seeing Yoshi turn into a motorbike, a mermaid, or even an umbrella. These provide some of the more exciting moments that Woolly World has to offer, though you’ll have to keep an eye out for them; even veteran players might miss some of these key moments if they aren’t attentive enough.
Of course, as solid as the mechanics of Woolly World are, they really begin to shine as you slowly discover the ways Good-Feel have incorporated the yarn aesthetic into the core gameplay. The easiest to explain example would be the enemies themselves; upon swallowing an enemy, Yoshi can produce a yarn ball as a potential projectile, which you can use to tie up enemies or fill in outlined platforms in with a simple toss. Loose threads can be unraveled with a lick from Yoshi’s tongue, unveiling secret passageways and tucked-away collectibles. Enemies even adopt the yarn motif, with Shy Guys arming themselves with crochet hooks in an attempt to (literally) unravel Yoshi.
Speaking of which, collectibles are abound in Yoshi’s Woolly World, and often provide the most challenge and replay value, especially for longtime Nintendo fans. Each level has five hidden wonder wool pieces (which when collected unlock a Yoshi costume), and stamp patches which unlock Miiverse stamps. On top of all that, smiley flowers also make a return, and collecting all five from each level will unlock additional bonus levels.
If you’re really keen on collecting all the hidden goodies in each level, you’ll eventually have to make use of the Power Badge system. By collecting beads within each level, you can exchange them for somewhat powerful Power Badges, which provide you with an extra ability for a playthrough of a level. These badges run the gamut of allowing you to play alongside Poochy (whom you can ride), to an increased amount of health, or an all-you-can-eat watermelon, which provides infinite ammo for spitting out seeds.
As expected for flagship Nintendo titles, there’s full co-op support available, allowing you to bring a friend along for the ride. As chaotic as it can sometimes be when you have two Yoshis bouncing around the screen, the ability to swallow each other and throw each other as a projectile can be a big boon in some situations, especially when a collectible is just out of reach. It’s a great addition to the traditional style of single-player, and if you are playing with a less experienced player, you can always turn on Mellow Mode. This option can be toggled on at any point, which grants your Yoshi with the ability to fly at will, as well as making it a little easier to aim projectiles.
If you don’t have the option of playing alone, you can always fall back on using the newly-released Yarn Yoshi Amiibo, which drops in a second Yoshi on screen, with both of them following your controller inputs simultaneously. It’s an excellent addition that can take some time to get used to, though it essentially allows you make use of helpful co-op mechanics by yourself. Your other vanilla amiibo will work as well, which can be scanned onto the Gamepad to unlock special color schemes for your Yoshi. While the Pokemon amiibo inexplicably aren’t compatible, it’s still pretty adorable to see Yoshi take on the color scheme of Mario or Donkey Kong.
If you’ve been desperately waiting for Yoshi’s Woolly World to hit store shelves, you’re in for a real treat. It might have taken a little longer than we would have hoped for Yoshi to land in North America, but it was well worth the wait. If you’re looking for something to do over the holiday season, it’s hard to ignore one of the best Wii U games to date.
This review is based off the Wii U exclusive game, which we were provided with for review.
The wait might have been long, but Yoshi's Woolly World arrives just in time to satisfy your desire for a new platformer. And it's charming and cute to boot.