Kirby will always be my first love but there’s a big place in my heart for Yoshi, that cute little pseudo-dinosaur who’s been thrown to his death just so that Mario can make a really high jump more times than you can count.
Yoshi’s Woolly World has been a long time coming, first announced in 2013 (under the tentative title Yarn Yoshi), and I’ve been waiting patiently since that day. A spiritual successor to Kirby’s Epic Yarn (the greatest game to ever grace any console), Yoshi’s Woolly World takes everything its predecessor did right, ramps up the visuals and increases the challenge, imbues it with Yoshi’s own distinct kind of fun, and gives you a piece of pure platforming perfection.
Like many platform games before it, Yoshi’s Woolly World‘s story is only there to get the action going, but it’s as cute as everything else going on in the game.
Far away in the middle of the ocean lies Craft Island, a magical place populated entirely by Yoshis made of yarn. It’s an ideal place until Kamek, a Magikoopa and one of Baby Bowser’s minions, rocks up and decides to turn all of the Yoshis into yarn balls. Sadly for Kamek he misses two Yoshis, who then set out to defeat him and recover their unwoven brethren and restore peace and tranquility to their idyllic little isle.
If you’ve ever played Yoshi’s Island, then you’ll be right at home here. Unlike its predecessor, which gave Kirby an entirely different moveset in keeping with his textile environment, Yoshi’s Woolly World comes with Yoshi’s traditional complement of moves. You have to make it from one corner of the screen to the other while gobbling up enemies and turning them into yarn balls which can be used as projectiles, flutter jumping across large pits of doom, and looking out for any collectibles that you can get your hands on.
The game itself isn’t overly challenging, and given that you have an infinite number of lives and no clock to race against the only punishment for falling off into the abyss is being sent back either to the beginning of the stage or to the last check point, depending on how far you’ve progressed. Granted you will lose any collectibles you’ve picked up along the way, but those are easy enough to pick up again when you know where to find them. For those who like to be nice and relaxed when they play there’s also Mellow Mode which gives Yoshi a set of wings, meaning that the risk of falling to your death is somewhat diminished. It doesn’t make you invincible, but it does make getting around a fair bit easier.
Most of the challenge in the game comes from trying to find the collectibles littered around each stage, of which there are plenty. Each stage has five yarn balls (which will knit you a different patterned Yoshi when you find all five), five Flowers (you need to find all of each world’s Flowers to unlock its special stage) and twenty Stamp Patches (finding enough will give you stamps that you can use in Miiverse posts). If you find all of these and finish a stage with full health (twenty hearts) then you’ll have aced the stage and a star will appear next to it in the overworld. It’s a completionist’s dream, and some of these things are hidden in really obscure places.
To help out with both difficulty and finding items, depending on what you need for a given stage, you can also buy Power Badges. These give you different power ups (invincibility to fire, ability to see hidden objects, etc.) and can be bought with gems, which you collect all over each of the stages. These are nice inclusions since you don’t have to use them if you enjoy the challenge, but are available if you’re doing the same level for the 20th f*&$ing time and still can’t find that one missing mother f*&$ing yarn ball.
Visually and audibly the game is an absolute delight, with huge attention to detail when it comes to how Yoshi interacts with his woollen little world. The only bouts of slowdown tend to happen during the transformation sections of certain stages (where Yoshi turns into a plane, an umbrella, a motorbike, a mole, a mermaid, or the cutest Godzilla you’ve ever seen) where you tend to be moving a lot faster and there’s more happening on-screen, but it isn’t a great detraction, especially considering you’re usually too busy trying not to get killed.
Throw all this together and the fact that you can scan in virtually any amiibo to get a corresponding patterned Yoshi (Olimar Yoshi is my favourite) what you have is a game that looks, sounds and plays fantastically, and can proudly sit in any platforming fan’s collection.
Perhaps not best suited for fans of the likes of Hatred, but for those of us that enjoy our games on the cute and fluffy side Yoshi’s Woolly World is everything you could ask for and then a little more. It’s as challenging as you want it to be in a world that is lovingly crafted and will keep you occupied for hours as you run around Craft Island and its surrounds knitting all of your friends back together.
My Final Rating: 9 / 10
Buy Yoshi’s Woolly World on Amazon.com