Nicholas Smit unravels the gameplay of the franchise’s newest instalment.
Yoshi is one of those very few additions to a pre-existing franchise that I have felt almost everyone agreed with. From his first appearance in Super Mario World, the shoe-wearing dinosaur has brought a simple euphoria to gameplay through controls, visuals and sound, and this continues in the newest addition to Yoshi’s own series.
Yoshi’s Woolly World slots perfectly into the tidy, but respectable collection of Yoshi games, with all the aspects fans have come to expect. First of all: the visuals. Congruent with the arts and crafts kick Nintendo’s been on lately, Yoshi’s Woolly World is set in exactly what you would think: a world of wool. But while keeping the side-scrolling gameplay we’ve come to expect, Yoshi has been depicted in 3D to presumably flex the Wii U’s muscles and make you feel bad for not buying it. Cynicism aside, it looks startlingly good and fits the light hearted feel of Yoshi to a T. After reefing the Wii U away from my family members and loading up the game, I can confidently state that my initial reaction was “AAAHHH, IT’S SO CUTE.”
The aesthetic also spills over into level design and gameplay. The courses are made not just of wool, but paper, cardboard, varying cloths and leathers, and many of these tap into their real-life properties to inform gameplay. A relatively early level will have you expose a scarf-like platform to a breeze to get it to wave up and down to reach higher ground. Many of the enemies also incorporate this scrapbook feel to provide some new gameplay without diverging too much from the Yoshi formula. Whether it’s by jumping, eating or throwing eggs, Yoshi generally dispatches enemies by unravelling them. Aside from the fact that only in wool could this be adorable instead of horrifying, this is a pretty adept use as it gives the player a common tactic for when they’re stuck.
If they meet what looks like a dead end, or can’t quite figure out a boss, the answer will most likely be to look for a thread to pull. For this reason, Yoshi’s Woolly World is not exactly going to strain your puzzle-solving skills when it comes to just beating the levels. That’s not to say it will be an absolute cakewalk (they saved that for mellow mode), as some platforming sections can be relatively difficult. What keeps this as a laidback stroll is how forgiving the title is. Yoshi’s iconic hovering jump gives you time to correct a mid-air mistake, he can take a lot of hits before dying, and when he does, you’re rarely put back more than a 30 seconds of gameplay. A short load time also keeps attention away from failure and lets players handle situations without much frustration.
That is, until you fall while chasing a collectible a couple times in a row and the game hints at the lower difficulty mode, as if it is your mum offering to put the training wheels back on. I’ll be fair in that this only happened while I was aiming for completionism targets, and the feature is much more likely to help a younger audience have a better experience than try to embarrass the casual gamer.
In summary, Yoshi’s Woolly World is a safe, but quality title that builds on the franchise’s strengths without drifting too far from its roots. The game just oozes joy, and considering I got sick immediately before playing this game for review, you can call it user-tested as the perfect pick-me-up for when you need something to make you incessantly happy for no reason.