Originally posted November 4th 2015 on the Seafoam Gaming forums
Thanks to Nintendo of America for the review code.
Title: Yoshi’s Woolly World
System: Wii U
Release date: 10/16/2015
The main game/story
Yoshi returns to home consoles in a new 2D Platforming adventure, taking elements from the original Yoshi’s Island and Yoshi’s Story to create a fun new experience, you take control of a lone Yoshi, (along with his red friend if you play in co-op) who sets out on a rescue mission to save his fellow Yoshi friends, who were captured by Kamek the Magikoopa and taken across numerous worlds. In terms of story, this is pretty much all you’ll see, which honestly isn’t a bad thing considering how out of control the plots of Yoshi’s Island DS and Yoshi’s New Island were in comparison. It’s a simple plot, yet one that makes sense and manages to give you a good reason for why you are guiding Yoshi on his new quest in the first place.
When Yoshi’s Woolly World was first announced on January 23rd, 2013 as Yarn Yoshi, (Said date of announcement just so happened to be my birthday, which made the announcement kinda like a birthday present.) I was rather skeptical on the visuals for this game. It seemed like a hybrid between Kirby’s Epic Yarn and a new, realistic style of sorts, and it didn’t seem to really come off as anything brand new in my eyes, considering how it seemed like most of the game would focus on the style similar to Kirby’s Epic Yarn.
Luckily as the game was being worked on over the course of the past two years, it seems they made it focus entirely on the realistic style that looks a lot like a colorful play set of fabrics, not unlike what you would see in a professional sewer’s office. As someone who messed around with knitting fabric before, the character designs and the environments looked really impressive, almost life-like in a sort of way. When most games in our industry try to give themselves a realistic look that ends up feeling the same, its very refreshing to see Yoshi’s Woolly World take a different kind of approach with its art style, making it feel as if you are actually looking at pieces of fabric moving around due to how well detailed everything is. In fact, combine that with the appearances of the Yarn Yoshi amiibo and the visuals are spot on to what you would expect everything to look like in real life if every character was given their own plush toy amiibo.
Music and Sound:
I’ll be completely honest when I say that Yoshi’s Island was the only game in the Yoshi series that had any songs that were remotely memorable to me, and even then very few of them. Sure, there were some classics like the opening theme and the stage clear theme, but other songs from the game either drove me insane or didn’t stick out to me. Yoshi’s Story onwards was even worse in terms of the musical scores, with the most recent Yoshi game in particular suffering from an overabundance of kazoos. Luckily it seems Good-Feel set things right with this entry in the Yoshi series, as a lot of stages have their own unique melodies, all of which sound quite nice and relaxing, and can even be listened to when you are taking a break from the action thanks to a tent in the main hub world.
Finally, after what seemed like ages the Yoshi series got a good soundtrack from start to finish, and I enjoyed nearly every song I heard for what it was. In terms of the sound effects, they are standard for the course, with almost all of the voice samples being recycled from Yoshi’s Story or any of the other recent Yoshi titles. They still work just as fine as ever, although admittedly it can be very irritating to hear Yoshi’s flutter jump noise drag on and on and on during those tricky sections where you barely avoid falling to your doom.
Similar to Yoshi’s Island, the main objective of the game is to clear each world and defeat the bosses that inhabit the fortresses you encounter on the fourth and eighth stages of each world, collecting any flowers, yarn pieces and hearts along the way to improve your progress. However, as mentioned earlier this game also takes some aspects from Yoshi’s Story, such as replacing Baby Mario in favor of a life meter, and a focus on exploring your environments for secrets. Despite the mediocre reputation Yoshi’s Story has gained over the years, I still enjoyed it for what it was, and would gladly play it over the handheld Yoshi titles without hesitation, so it’s nice to see the good aspects of that title get brought back for use in this new installment.
Like in all prior Yoshi platformers before it, Yoshi’s abilities remain pretty much the same, with Yoshi being able to swallow enemies to turn them into eggs that he can throw at items or enemies, or spit them out instead if you want to be careful with the eggs you throw. He can also flutter jump to hover for a short amount of time, ground pound to uncover secrets or crush enemies, and shift into different forms when the time calls for them. Yes, just like in the original Yoshi’s Island, you can transform into certain objects or vehicles, depending on the stage. This is done mainly by entering a door midway through certain stages, where the objective is to use the unique abilities of each transformation to get to the goal before time runs out, collecting any collectibles you uncover along the way. From a parasol, mermaid, and a Giant Yoshi, there are quite a few transformations that help change the pace of the game, even if they unfortunately take place in their own sections, unlike the SNES game where they were a normal part of the stage with no special section dedicated just to showing one off.
A new feature in Yoshi’s Woolly World is the ability to use special badges to cause certain events to happen, depending on the current amount of gems you’ve gathered from each stage. They can help you find secret items, make you invincible to lava, give you an infinite supply of watermelons for an entire stage and do many other features, although you’ll need to choose wisely on when to use them if you don’t want to get rid of your savings. While they aren’t required to beat the game, they are still fun to mess around with, and can even make getting the hidden items in each stage easier! Speaking of collectables, they function like they always have, with you being rewarded for beating a stage with every flower, yarn piece and full health, which in turn will unlock numerous things, from extra stages to other patterns of Yoshi that you can change into at any time. (On a side note, amiibo can be used to change Yoshi into special patterns based off of the characters you scan into the game, although these don’t count towards your completion and are just a fun little bonus for you to mess around with.) There’s even hidden stamp gems that you can look for in each level, replacing the Red Coins from the original Yoshi’s Island. Once you gather enough of the stamp gems, you unlock Miiverse stamps for you to use if you so desire, either to give hints on a particular stage to anyone hoping to find a well-hidden secret, or just to be silly and have fun with the stamps that you are given. One of the biggest issues that Kirby’s Epic Yarn gave me was that it was horribly easy and incredibly boring, with the collectables feeling pointless and not worth the challenge of getting. Thankfully Yoshi’s Woolly World fixed this issue in both ways, by adding a general challenge to the game, and by making the collectables worth it when you do manage to perfect a stage, which I’m really proud of Good-feel for doing. If the game happens to be too difficult for you to complete, you can even turn on Mellow Mode to take it easy, which helps make it accessible to folks who might not be that great with platformers or video games in general while still keeping the experience fun and enjoyable.
Last, but certainly not least is the Co-Op multiplayer. In this mode, you and a friend can go on an adventure together, with both players being able to play in each of the levels, allowing you to find secrets together or compete with each other to make it to the end first. Despite being local-only, I had a blast when playing this mode with my friend, mainly due to how well executed it is in comparison to nearly every other first party 2D Platformer on the Wii U, which either suffered from making it incredibly chaotic to a frustrating experience if your friend ends up being mean to you. For example, in Co-Op the unlimited lives feature still works, except in this case if only one person is defeated, he’ll be brought back in an egg for the other player to break, which means that someone could mess up over and over again yet as long as one player is focused there’s no harsh penalty, with you only getting sent back to the last checkpoint if both players lose their health before breaking free from their egg. This still keeps in the challenge for the trickier stages, while also encouraging teamwork in order to get to hard to reach secrets and to stay alive long enough to not get sent back to the last checkpoint. With a more relaxed pace compared to the chaotic action of New Super Mario Bros U or Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I consider Yoshi’s Woolly World’s Co-Op to be the best on the Wii U so far. You can even use the Yarn Yoshi amiibo in order to have a computer character assist you as the second player, although I don’t have one as of right now so I can’t judge that feature for myself just yet, so I recommend sticking with a buddy for now, since pretty much every controller supported by the Wii U will work just fine in this game.
In conclusion, Yoshi’s Woolly World was a nice surprise! Despite my memories growing up with the original Yoshi’s Island on my GBA many years ago, I can agree that some aspects of that game haven’t aged too well, with the prior attempts at making a sequel playing it safe in terms of the gameplay, with the Artoon developed games in particular being horrible in comparison to the console Yoshi games. Luckily, it seems the true sequel has finally arrived, as Yoshi’s Woolly World is filled with charm, taking the best parts of both the original SNES/GBA classic and the overlooked N64 successor to combine them into one new, fun experience, made even more memorable thanks to the beautiful art style and the vast improvement in the musical score. It seems that both Good-Feel and the staff members who worked on the other Yoshi games took the feedback from Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s New Island to good use, providing a very fun, yet addicting experience that manages to be accessible to everyone without making it a bore to play for those seeking a challenge, thanks to the well hidden collectables in each stage adding to the overall challenge and replay value. I give Yoshi’s Woolly World an 8 out of 10, and I do recommend it for being what is in my opinion the best game in the Yoshi series, and a worthy addition to your Wii U library.