“Yoshi’s Woolly World” is bar none the most adorable game I have ever played, and is a darn good platformer to boot. Released last year for the Wii U and receiving a re-release for the 3DS soon, this may not be a “system-seller” level game but anyone who has either of these systems should seriously consider checking it out – as long as you are planning to play it solo. (Note that this review is solely for the Wii U version of the game.)
“Yoshi’s Woolly World” has, if nothing else, a distinct and wonderful visual style from nearly everything being made of yarn. Compared to the similarly-styled “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” on the Wii, which simply had the characters made out of yarn outlines, the character models in this game look like living, hand-sewn yarn dolls. Besides being nicely detailed – and almost obnoxiously cute – this also lends itself to some environmental puzzles and details that otherwise wouldn’t make any sense.
As this screenshot illustrates, many hidden paths and items will be obtained by un-stitching the crafted world around you (and giving you a larger, more powerful yarn ball to boot). This isn’t the only place that yarn is used sensibly either. Yarn balls – which replace Yoshi’s standard ammo of eggs – act as actual yarn in their function. Throwing them at enemies will wrap them up to help you defeat them. Wireframe enemies and platforms exist which you need to hit with yarn balls to make them “solid” for various effects. (Saying more would spoil some of the puzzles.)
Less necessary but still adorably, Yoshi will re-knit itself into various shapes to help navigate the environment – the signature flutter jump is replaced with a little propeller, you briefly become a hammer when using the ground-pound move, and other cute little visual flairs like this abound. Not to mention that there are special areas where Yoshi is completely transformed – keeping in line with the series’ tradition – that I will not spoil here.
It’s worth mentioning that there are some odd fits of lag and slowdown in the late-game levels, but nothing drastic enough to affect the game overall.
Have you played a “Yoshi’s Island” game before? If so, you’ll already have a general idea of how this game plays. You’re given largely-linear levels to traverse and find hidden items. There are no strict time limits (such as in the original Mario games) though some levels are auto-scrolling where you need to keep on the move ahead of an enemy or other such deadly obstacle.
As is typical for most Nintendo platformers, the controls are solid and reliable. Jumping, running, swimming; everything just feels “right,” and nothing feels forced or inorganic. It’s very obvious that the mechanics were designed around the visual style and not the other way around, which lends an additional level of cohesiveness to the game’s design. This extends into the game’s dozen boss battles, though discussing some of those mechanics would take away from the fun of figuring them out on your own.
Really, there’s not much else to say in this regard. Nintendo has this vitally important aspect of platformers absolutely nailed down and refined – and it shows. However, it’s not all rosy in the land of Yarn Yoshi…
You know that saying, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.” Unfortunately, this largely applies to the co-op mode in “Yoshi’s Woolly World.” If you’ve played any of the recent 4-player Mario games in this mode then you will already know what I’m talking about. However, for many reasons it’s even worse in this game – it’s just painfully obvious that some levels were not designed with co-op in mind. It’s also a lot easier to unintentionally mess each other up than in the Mario games; at least in them you have to more or less intentionally be a jerk to do any damage.
Now… That’s not to say it’s all bad. If you’re going to play with a friend just to goof around then this will be a lot more enjoyable. If you’re trying to get all of the hidden items in the game or otherwise play seriously, you’ll quickly become annoyed with many apparent issues. I played the entire game in co-op with my wife and we both greatly enjoyed it – even on a completionist run. It’s just that the co-op mode adds its own frustrations that simply are not there in the single player mode.
- Yoshi’s tongue alone can provide a lot of unintended frustrations since you can easily accidentally swallow each other when trying to grab an enemy – especially in the auto-scrolling levels.
- On a similar note, it’s all too easy to hit each other with a yarn ball causing them to get knocked back into a pit, an enemy, etc.
- The area of movement is painfully limited to what is on-screen. Even if you know there’s a platform that you can jump on, if it’s more than slightly off-screen then Yoshi will instead plummet to his death if your partner is too high for the camera to move. Likewise, you can be killed when your partner is trying to reach a secret area that is just slightly too high and the camera pans up to meet them.
- There are a few levels – most notably the secret levels – that were just simply not designed for two players at the same time. You’ll constantly be tripping each other up and unintentionally even killing each other.
If I’m going on about this, that’s because as much as I enjoyed the game these frustrations still stuck out to me that much. That painfully. The level of coordination it requires for two people is almost absurd.
On the other hand, co-op does bring its own joys – mostly from breaking the game in your favor. You can use each other as moving platforms to help keep each other alive, and even reach secret areas without solving environmental puzzles that are a part of the single player experience. Since there is no life limit you can take turns dying to recharge on health if you’re both running low. And let’s be honest here, when you’re not unintentionally messing each other up it is just plain fun to cooperate with someone else in a game.
Despite the flawed co-op mode, “Yoshi’s Woolly World” is a joy to play. There’s just enough difficulty and there are plenty of unique moments that take advantage of the world being (mostly) built out of yarn. Just know what you’re getting into if you’re planning on bringing a friend along for the ride.
(Single player is an easy 5/5 whereas co-op is a 3/5 – overall score is an average of these combined.)
Excellent platforming game with frustrating co-op struggles
I obtained this game by purchasing for myself (bundled with the too-cute Blue Yarn Yoshi Amiibo) and I played to 100% completion; both in co-op and single player