As we’re writing our review of Yoshi’s Whoolly World on the same day as we find out that Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata has very sadly passed away, it’s going to be one of our reverential write-ups, but that takes little away from the sheer genius loveable fun of the game in its own right. While it’s not as frantic as its time-bound Mario cousin, it does require a certain level of clinical accuracy and bright eyed attention to detail that challenges as much as it amazes.
There’s always been a brilliant simplicity to the plot behind Nintendo side-scrolling platform adventures and that’s definitely the case with Yoshi’s Woolly World. It’s got a simple setup with the flying wizard of doom, Kamek, hovering into Craft Island, home of the woolen Yoshi’s, to steel himself some magical yarn out of the dinosaur brethren. With just two knitted Yoshi’s left, green and red, you have to set off on an adventure to locate all of the Yoshi yarns to put them back together again and take down the magical menace.
Nobody does 2D platform games like Nintendo and their latest is a brilliant package of sheep follicle excellence. It’s much akin in style to all of the previous Yoshi’s Island outings, but with the ingenious twist of wool instead of eggs and micro Marios in tow. That might not sound like much in terms of developments, but it’s a subtle shift that works incredibly well. If you thought Yoshi squatting out an egg was fun, wait until you gobble down an woolen Shy Guy and thrutch out a ball of wool to the sound of the little dino saying “bum”.
There’s a lot to do in all level with each of the Yoshi yarns to locate, along with flowers emblems and all of the gems to wrack up. It’s a clever move on the part of developers Good-Feel to give you a whole new Yoshi each time you manage to finish a level with all five of the yarns, forcing you to really focus on every element of the levels to make sure you find them all. This is added to by the fact that you’ll need to collect every flower from each of the eight levels on each world to gain access to the special levels in the game, which will give you a whole new woolly playground to run about in.
There’s a lot of baddies to make it past with a whole host of unique abilities that can both scupper you and help you make it through a level better, so you need to work out everything for each of them as you approach. A good example of this is the egg hopper Burts in the World 1, Level 8 as they jump up and down blocking your path, making a nuisance of themselves in general, but if you jump on their heads they suddenly turn into an aid to getting to higher placed goodies, which can take a little bit of skill to master.
The levels themselves are big and sprawling, with a lot of detail and a crafty design to make them progressively difficult as you progress. You’ll start out thinking things are relatively easy, but by the time you’ve made it past the first couple of worlds you’ll know that it’s going to be a long away from a walk in the textile park.
As ever, where Mario and friends platform adventures are concerned, the fun of the bosses is a big part of the game, and they don’t disappoint. They’re big, creative beasts that require unique skills and tactics in order to take them down and continue your mission to stop Kamek. You may not feel like your number’s up when you face the first couple of bosses, but by the time you get half way through the game you’ll start to come up against more troublesome offenders to test your skills against.
There are more than a few cool new moves that have been added into the mix of the game as Yoshi turns into everything from a 20x bigger, monster equivalent of himself to a motorbike or flapping umbrella as he makes his way through the game. It gives it a very unique feel, while also placing it well and truly in the landscape of Nintendo platform excellence.
The game was never going to be anything other than a cute platformer and in that respect it’s mission accomplished for the graphics for Yoshi’s Woolly World. The texture detail is very impressive and it’s added to by an array of nice effects that add to the experience, ranging from the crush of cushioned fabric as Yoshi walks over it to the way that the little wool hurler unravels to go down sewer pipes.
It’s a colourful extravaganza of a game with a whole lot of cuteness built into it for good measure. Some of the animation will put a smile on your face instantly and while it’s a 2D platformer, the visuals do look a little on the 3D side with so much depth in the texture of the material world. There’s even the occassional 3D transition where the platform spins around to the opposite view with a pretty cool effect.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is a fitting tribute to Satoru Iwata in itself as it epitomises the very essence of the fun and simplicity that he instilled into gaming during his tenure at the head of Nintendo. It’s all about the gaming experience, the challenge and the ability to be playable by everyone, no matter what their age. It’s a game that you’ll look back on very fondly in years to come, with a certain sense of nostalgia for all the good times you had with the Yoshi’s of Craft Island, much in the way that we’ll do for Sotoru Iwata.
Yoshi’s Woolly World review: 4.5/5