By Josh Speer / October 28th, 2015
|Title||Yoshi’s Woolly World|
|Release Date||October 16th, 2015|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone – Mild Cartoon Violence|
I’m not sure what it is about Good-Feel and fabric, but it’s a medium that seems to work remarkably well for them. That was certainly illustrated in their previous outing, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, another beautiful game that was docked points for being incredibly easy. Thus when I heard they were going to give Yoshi a similar facelift, repurposing everything from Yoshi’s Island with a new yarn-based mechanic, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I knew it meant Yoshi’s Woolly World would be the most aesthetically pleasing Yoshi game yet, but I worried it would be another dumbed-down sequel in a series notorious for mediocre sequels. Granted, I’ve personally enjoyed things about all of the Yoshi’s Island sequels, but in the 20 years since the original, none of them have come close to capturing the glory of the SNES original. At best, they were feeble imitations with new gimmicks, and that’s if I’m being kind. With that in mind, did Yoshi’s Woolly World end up another unsatisfying sequel, or did it do the impossible and establish itself as the best new Yoshi game?
First, let’s get something out of the way. Much as I loved Yoshi’s Island, it wasn’t a game known for plot. Such is something Woolly World has in common with it. The basic premise is Kamek, being the jerk he is, flies to Craft Island, turns almost all the Yoshis into Wonder Wool for some unspecified reason, and rushes away. Luckily, two Yoshis escape his magical assault, and chase after him to rescue their purloined friends. That’s pretty much all you get, and really all the incentive you need. For anybody who has played previous Yoshi’s Island games, the mechanics should be instantly familiar, and even if that’s not the case, there are multiple controller options at your disposal. Despite the yarn mechanic, you still flutter jump, ground pound, eat enemies, turn them into eggs, or in this case yarn balls, and fling them for a variety of purposes. The big change is, since everything is made of fabric and buttons, you can reconstruct and unravel things. For example, you’ll encounter frames that, when hit with a yarn ball, turn into platforms. You will also find bows of yarn that you can unravel with Yoshi’s tongue, revealing hidden areas and opening up exploration options. Some stages will ripple up and down, or entire sections will even stitch themselves into existence, which looks utterly remarkable. If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll even find sections of levels you can push against to reveal hidden nooks and crannies.
What’s cool about Woolly World is how it takes old elements from Yoshi’s Island and mixes them up in new and surprising ways. For example, if you hit an enemy with a yarn ball, they won’t be destroyed, but instead will be tied up with yarn. Remember those items called Chomp Rocks? In this game, not only do you find Chomp Rocks to roll around, but you find an enemy called a Frame Chomp. These will hop towards you, trying to devour Yoshi, but a well placed yarn ball knits them into a docile Chomp Rock. If you need to take them up some stairs, you can unravel them again, getting a yarn ball in the bargain. You will also find Boos that you can hit with rebounding yarn balls to turn into a balloon. By far my new twist is the Woollet Bill. These are white Bullet Bills that leave a trail of yarn you can walk on in their wake. Once again, Good-Feel shows how truly creative they can be in Woolly World.
Woolly World also apes Yoshi’s Island in the way levels are set up. Each world is composed of 8 courses, and in each course you can find 5 Flowers, 5 Wonder Wool and 20 Stamp Patches, which are uncovered by collecting all the beads in a stage. However, finding all the items in a stage and beating it with full health is not an easy feat. Case in point, I didn’t find all the items in the very first course in the game, despite doing my best to be thorough. You’ll need to look for visual clues to hidden areas as well as hover about to find invisible question balloons. This is further complicated by the transformation sections in many stages, which has Yoshi turn into both new and old forms and rush through, collecting beads, Wonder Wool and other goodies in a short timeframe. You can collect a limited number of clocks to grant you more time, but ultimately your skill is what matters.
There were very few courses that I 100%ed on my first attempt, and I’m very happy for that replay value. I was also drawn to collect all the Wonder Wool, since finding it all in a stage will knit together one of your bewitched Yoshi allies, opening them up as a color-swap. Though they do range in visual quality, they’re a nice change of pace from the pure Yoshi color-swaps. If you want even more varieties, you can use your non-Yoshi amiibo to grant some really cool skins. By far the best is the Mega Man Yoshi, in my humble opinion.
Upon beating a stage, you’ll hop through a wreath of Flowers and beads, and if you hit it right, you’ll get to try out a bonus level. Here you can rush around in a very brief timeframe to get more beads, which is the currency you use to try out the Badges. Badges can do everything from let you play the whole level with Poochy to starting with a Watermelon, but being a purist I didn’t use any. However, Badges as well as Mellow Mode exist to cater to the new gamer, another nice touch that didn’t water down my experience. You can even use either the Yoshi or Yarn Yoshi amiibo to get a second Yoshi who follows you around and can be eaten to fling as a giant yarn ball.
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