Yoshi’s Woolly World is the first Yoshi game on a home console since 1998’s Yoshi’s Story on Nintendo 64. The new Wii U title was developed by Goodfeel, who found success in another textile-themed game, Kirby’s Epic Yarn for Wii.
The main similarity between Epic Yarn and Woolly World is also the first thing players will notice about Woolly World: the game is adorable. The yarn-knit Yoshi runs, jumps and eats his way through a bright and colorful world made of fabric, yarn and cotton.
This cute vibe is supported by the soundtrack, which provides happy-go-lucky tracks that range from electronic to country tracks and jazz. The tracks use an extraordinary diversity of instruments to help convey each level’s mood.
While Epic Yarn and Woolly World look very similar, Yoshi’s newest romp takes its gameplay inspiration and scenario from the Super Nintendo classic Yoshi’s Island.
The basic gameplay is simple: Woolly World is a 2D sidescrolling platformer. Yoshi moves from left to right toward the end of the level, jumping over pits, throwing eggs at obstacles and enemies, and eating enemies and objects to create new eggs to throw.
The core gameplay is based around these three simple actions. However, each has its own intricacies that allow the player a lot of room for creativity and give them plenty of tools to use as they see fit. For example, eating an enemy and creating eggs from those enemies both stop Yoshi in the air, allowing players extra time to wait for the movement of platforms or stay above other enemies.
Another tool Yoshi always has at his disposal is his flutter jump. By holding the jump button, Yoshi’s yarn legs will transform into a propeller, giving his jump extra length and a small height boost at the end. This can be used for everything from recovering from a misjudged jump, to avoiding being hit by aerial enemies, to discovering a level’s secret passages.
Those secret passages will require every tool Yoshi has, as many of them are very well-hidden in Woolly World’s adorable levels.
The levels all feel passionately and intelligently designed by the Goodfeel team. Multiple levels in every world will introduce completely new elements, like yarn outlines of platforms that need to be filled in or birds to throw that leave cloud trails that Yoshi can walk on. These levels do a good job of exploring the possibilities of each of the elements they introduce.
Some may feel that this breakneck pace of new mechanics can make the game feel a bit disjointed. The game’s six worlds don’t have overall themes to unify their eight levels, which is fairly atypical when talking about Nintendo’s platforming games. While Woolly World’s design philosophy may not be the most consistent, the constant influx of new ideas makes the overall game more enjoyable.
On the surface, Woolly World is a fairly easy game. One thing that didn’t carry over from Yoshi’s Island, and something that is thankfully beginning to fall out of popularity in the platforming genre, is a life system that kicks players out of the level after an arbitrary number of deaths.
The only penalty for death in this game is being reset to the last checkpoint. This allows players to continue working on the pieces of levels they struggle with without forcing them to replay the rest of the level over and over again.
Another way to reduce difficulty is to use the Mellow Mode. This mode gives Yoshi wings, effectively allowing him to breeze past parts of the game that are too challenging to complete on the game’s regular mode. This allows players with less experience in the platforming genre to enjoy the entire game as well.
While levels are never very difficult to simply finish, it can be surprisingly difficult to find all of the hidden collectibles needed to reach 100 percent completion, which also requires completing each level with full health.
One such collectible is five yarn balls hidden in each levels. Finding all five of these in a level will give the player a new costume of Yoshi to use.
These costumes are a big incentive because they are creative and adorable. Some costumes are based off other characters in the game, like Shy Guy Yoshi or Poochy Yoshi.
Others are created simply because they’re cute, like the personal favorites Moo Moo Yoshi and Citrus Yoshi.
Another way to collect costumes is to scan in Nintendo’s Skylander-esque “amiibo” character figurines. Scanning amiibo in the overworld will give Yoshi a costume based on that character. It may not be worth running out to buy amiibo for, but it’s certainly a bonus for people that already own the figures.
Despite a few small design problems, Woolly World is a showcase of what makes Nintendo’s platformers great. Its levels always feel fresh and the designers are always able to impress with their new ideas. Its music is enjoyable and catchy enough to absent-mindedly whistle while going about your day. The textile graphic style is used creatively and succeeds in making the game feel warm and inviting.
Most importantly, though, is that Yoshi’s Woolly World is fun! It is highly recommended to newer players looking for something to play a couple levels at a time with a friend, as well as to platforming veterans that are willing to search high and low to complete the game and unlock all the adorable prizes Goodfeel has hidden for them.