Nintendo’s Yoshi series of adventure games have always been thought of as a colorful and light-hearted take on the Super Mario platformers, but not necessarily as “hardcore.” This may still be its generalization today, but don’t let the cute Yoshi’s Woolly World fool you. Those willing to put in the work some work will find intelligent and creative level design, resulting in some of the most surprising challenges that bring back the phrase “Nintendo hard.”
What Is It?
Yoshi’s Woolly World is the latest Yoshi game to receive the sidescroller treatment, and like Kirby’s Epic Yarn on the Wii before it, the game’s visual style is a tightly knit one with lose strands that’ll make any grandma go crazy. In fact, the first shipment of the game comes bundled with an adorable Yoshi amiibo made of yarn.
The story takes place on a knitted island populated by Yoshis of varying colors and designs. The dinosaurs were very much in glee before the arrival of the magikoopa, Kamek, who turns all but two Yoshis into bundles of yarn. As you’d expect, it’s all up to Yoshi to save the day, and if you have a friend with you, you can team up for some cooperative action.
Why Should I Care?
Like any other Yoshi platformer, Yoshi’s Woolly World isn’t out to get you. The majority of North American Wii U owners might be a little wary because of all the troll levels in Super Mario Maker, but they can rest easy. Dying in Yoshi’s Woolly World won’t be a frequent occurrence for any experienced player, as it’s really more about exploration and taking in the whimsical visuals at your own pace. Compared to Mario Maker, Woolly World is fairly therapeutic. Nothing about the game’s typical level design comes off as annoying, and I felt like I was in total comfort when playing. It’s good to know that there are games out there that don’t give you the urge to throw your controller out the window most of the time.
If you’ve played a Yoshi’s Island game before, Woolly World should be familiar territory. Aside from running around and jumping on enemies, he can lash his tongue at them, and turn them to eggs by swallowing them, or by spitting them at other enemies like a projectile. The only difference is that in Woolly World, eggs have been replaced by yarn balls. You can then use the X button to aim and tap it again to toss your yarn balls at enemies, clouds, and other obstacles such as the windmill you see in the screenshot below.
While each level in the game remains straightforward, there definitely is a challenge for those looking for it. Scattered throughout each level are gems that unlock 20 stamps (to use in Miiverse), five flowers, and five bundles of yarn. You’ll find a lot of these collectables right before your very eyes, but oftentimes these items will be hidden from plain view. You might find them in gift boxes, “?” clouds, invisible “?” clouds that’ll only be viewable after you touched a certain part of the screen, or even in interactive environments that are either hidden or brought to plain sight by untying a knot like the one you see on top of the tree in the screenshot above.
For a game that’s supposed to be easy, the only time I came across every hidden collectable in the first world was in its last level — the castle level.
But why would you want to collect them all, especially the yarn and the flowers? The five yarn bundles you uncover in each level unlocks a Yoshi that goes with the level’s overall theme. As for the flowers, they unlock an additional level in each world, a level that’s actually quite challenging. So in addition to the personal perks of actually “100 percenting” the game, there’s the fact that you’re rewarded with access to more content that actually rewards careful and explorative play with difficult levels unheard of in a Yoshi game.
You read that right. You can unlock difficult levels in Yoshi’s Woolly World, and they’re as hard as they are amazing. There’s really no other way to put it that’ll give them justice. If you even try one of these “S” levels out, you’ll want to try the rest, which should be good enough motivation to clear the game the way it was meant to be cleared — to completion.
My only real complaint is the fact that since Nintendo tried to keep the screen as clean from clutter as possible, you can’t see your actual collection progress without pausing your game and looking at the charts. As a result, there were often times where I finished a level without even looking to see if I actually searched through every nook and cranny for hidden items.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Yoshi’s Woolly World is a godsend for any gamer that considers him or herself a completionist. The fact that it’s a Yoshi game with fairly simplistic concepts in its level design should interest any Wii U owner, but when getting down nitty gritty with each level’s secrets, there’s a lot to love.
Since Nintendo has pretty much become a fad toy company as of late, there are also yarn Yoshi amiibo available for purchase (or to collect) in green, light blue, and pink with each of them giving you a second Yoshi to use in play if you aren’t playing co-op with a buddy. They’re even going to release a Mega Yarn Yoshi next month that’ll, of course, let you play the game as a giant Yoshi. The game is also compatible with a handful of amiibo that’ll give Yoshi a different look. My particular favorite is the Fox McCloud Yoshi you unlock my scanning a Fox amiibo on the GamePad.
All the cute stuff aside, is Yoshi’s Woolly World worth the money? It definitely is, especially with Zelda U and Star Fox Zero being delayed to next year. Those without another console pretty much don’t have any other alternatives, but at least this is a good one. If you do decide to wait a while for a price drop, which will undoubtedly take some time, it’ll be well worth the cash.