Yoshi’s Woolly World Review
It really has been a long time since we have received a really good Yoshi title on any Nintendo platform. It could be argued that the last, really good Yoshi game was the original Yoshi’s Island! Nintendo laid out their plans for Yoshi’s Woolly World a long time ago, and the game has underwent some major transformations from what was originally shown. The time it took to get this game out to the public made a lot of fans worried, especially as during the time period Nintendo released a fairly mediocre Yoshi’s New Island. After playing through all six worlds, I can safely say that any concerns over Yoshi’s Woolly World have been completely erased, as this is one of the best Yoshi titles to date!
Nintendo has never been known for ground breaking stories, and Yoshi’s Woolly World is no different. One day, all the Yoshi’s are gathered on Craft Island doing who knows what – crafts perhaps? – when Kamek arrives and turns all but two of the Yoshi’s into balls of yarn and spreads them across the six worlds. As the two remaining Yoshi’s, it is your job to rescue all your friends and defeat Kamek, returning Craft Island back to normal. It’s a passable story that acts as the catalyst for what players are really looking forward to here: another Yoshi game with excellent puzzles, great platforming, and unrivaled visuals.
New to Yoshi, Because of Yarn
And this is exactly what players are treated too. Yoshi’s Woolly World is built entirely out of yarn, so aesthetically it is beautiful. In fact, we have nominated Yoshi’s Woolly World for the Best Visuals award that we give out in mid December. If you happened to see the behind the scenes video that was posted at E3 2014 related to Yoshi’s Woolly World, you will understand the dedication and work that went into crafting this title. The reality is that words really don’t justify the look of this game. If you have yet to see this game in all of its glory, erase those thoughts of Kirby’s Epic Yarn from a few years ago, because this is nothing like that. Half of the value you will find in Woolly World is the visuals. The Yoshi’s are equally as impressive as the environments, especially when you use amiibo to ‘theme’ your Yoshi after your favorite Nintendo characters!
With the visuals comes fantastic level design, and puzzles that only work in a world created out of yarn. Throughout the levels you will find strands of yarn that Yoshi can unravel with his tongue. This will often open up new areas to explore – creating large balls of yarn which can move through multiple objects or enemies. The yarn does create very unique puzzle opportunities. Often, silhouettes will be placed throughout the level waiting for Yoshi to throw a ball of yarn at it, creating platforms and other unique items.
One level really uses the yarn environment to the max. When traveling through the level, Yoshi is followed by a silhouette skeleton of Chain-Chomp. At varies parts in the level, Yoshi needs to cover the Chain-Chomp in yarn, effectively turning him into a big rolling boulder that will smash through barriers. After getting through, Yoshi needs to use his tongue to unravel the yarn so that the Chain-Chomp will continue to follow him through the rest of the level. Multiple times Yoshi will turn the Chain-Chomp into a boulder of yarn to complete obstacles. In moments like these, it is hard to not be impressed with the puzzle sophistication, and how well it is married to the environments.
Same Old Mechanics Feel New, Because of Yarn
Like previous Yoshi games, there are TONS of things to collect in Yoshi’s Woolly World. Like previous games, Yoshi will need to collect 5 sunflowers – used to open a bonus level at the end of each world – 20 stamps that can be used in Miiverse – these replace the red coins – and of course, attempt to finish the level with full health. A fourth collectible has been added to Woolly World, and it is by far the most fun to collect. Each level has 5 packages of yarn hidden throughout. When all 5 are collected, a new Yoshi design will be made available to you for use in other levels. Although this is only really a cosmetic change, and doesn’t really add anything to the level you are playing, it is still fun to try and collect all the available Yoshi’s, especially since some of them look fantastic.
The gems that you collect during each stage finally have a purpose in Woolly World. Gems can be used to buy badges, and these badges are an excellent addition to the game. Some badges will allow you to move through lava without taking damage, while others will make all your small balls of yarn large, and yet others that will allow you to play through levels with your friend Pooch. I never really used badges on my first play through of each level, but they definitly came in handy during consecutive playthroughs when I attempted to get all the collectibles. Getting the collectibles in each level is insanely difficult, and any potential bonuses that will help are always welcome.
The one things that doesn’t feel changed from previous Yoshi titles are boss battles. In Woolly World, the bosses are very forgettable, whether it be the mid world bosses – which are just repeated throughout the entire game with slight variations on how to finish them – or the end world bosses that are so unbelievably easy that even when doing trial-and-error to figure out how to defeat them, I still never lost. That being said, the developers again make the most out of hte world being created in yarn, so even when they are easy, the way they are defeated is unique and shows a great relationship between the platforming and the environment.
Playing Yoshi’s Woolly World with someone else will either be lots of fun or oddly frustrating. If your second player is more of a tag along instead of an actual asset, you are in for a rough go. When playing with my six year old son, it was a long string of frustrating moments after frustrating moments. If he wasn’t licking me up making me lose all my yarn balls, he was running far ahead making me miss out on many collectibles. However, when playing with my wife, it was much more enjoyable. Like using badges, retrieving all the hidden items with two players can be much easier than trying to do it solo, especially if you both are using badge powers as well. Overall, I am happy that Nintendo added the option to play with two players. Absolutely no one would fault them for making the game single player only, but they should be applauded for yet again upholding the value of couch cooperative play.
Yoshi’s Woolly World goes much deeper than just great presentation. Outside of the mediocre boss fights, the platforming and puzzles make great use of the yarn environment. Yoshi is equal parts charm, puzzles, and platforming, which makes it one of the best Yoshi games ever made, and my personal favorite. After the disappointment that was Yoshi’s New Island, it is great to see Nintendo giving the Yoshi franchise a shot in the arm with this outstanding title. Yoshi’s Woolly World might just be one of the best titles on Wii U thus far, and that is saying a lot when you look at the great lineup that Nintendo has rolled out this generation.