A Yarn To Spin
If we ever got to a point where reviews consisted of one word to describe a game then there is no doubt that ‘cute’ would be the one used for Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World. Fortunately, or unfortunately for some of us, people expect more than one word out of a critical review, they expect at least one number instead. Don’t worry, we’ll get there, but first, some words.
With the Switch approaching release it’s easy to assume that the 3DS will become obsolete, but even in its twilight years it’s managed to conjure up another solid, entertaining platformer. In all fairness this isn’t entirely a new game, being more of a port of the Yoshi’s Woolly World released on Wii U, but with a few bells and whistles precariously balanced on top. For owners of the Wii U version, the 3DS version doesn’t do enough to entice the idea of double dipping, but for new fans there’s more than enough here to keep your 3DS turned on until you Switch.
The console is not one short of platformers, Nintendo’s bread and butter usually involves some form of jumping, and often some yahooing. Although the yahooing is lacking here Yoshi’s Woolly World stacks up to the best of them, even surpassing the likes of of New Super Mario Bros 2. What makes this one stand out is its visual design and variety of levels. The aesthetic of everything including Yoshi being made of yarn is used to great effect for both gameplay ideas and a vibrant art style. If you can play this game without feeling the teeniest bit better about the world then…. where’s your heart? Colours jump out at you from the screen, bosses are more cute than scary, and the music is joyous. This is a classic Sunday feel good game, it contains the essence of what makes Nintendo games glimmer with magic, the magic that few other game companies manage to grasp.
Most levels introduce a new idea or gameplay mechanic, surprisingly quite a few levels revolve around solving platform puzzles such as rising and lowering water levels to progress or using Poochy to reach higher levels. This continuously makes starting a new level exciting rather than tedious. As well designed as they are, it’s clear they were made for a home console, levels are sizeable and don’t always suit themselves for quick bursts of play. This helps add up to a game that overflows with content, the main game is spread across 6 hefty worlds, each owning a special level unlocked through collectables. Each world is punctuated by a boss battle, these are always visually interesting but are rather simplistic and involve doing the same thing three times to defeat them.
Collectables are abound everywhere, each level has several different sets of ‘find them all’ to check off and many of them are fiendishly well hidden. Collecting all the sunflowers in a world unlocks the special level of said world, while finding all the balls of yarn in a level rewards you with an alternative design for Yoshi to swap out. Going after the collectables is thankfully an enjoyable endeavour, requiring you to solve extra puzzles and bonus areas to obtain.
In addition to the main set of levels there are numerous other activities to take part in. New Poochy levels are reminiscent of runner games on iOS, asking you to jump over obstacles and collect gems. There’s a pervasive feeling that this mode maybe should have been a free spin off game on mobile but it’s hardly worth complaining about. Elsewhere you have the ability to create your own versions of Yoshi using a easy to understand colour editor, there’s not much chance of designing a masterpiece but it’s a nice addition that seems inspired by some of the tools in Little Big Planet. The most ancillary yet lovable addition is Yoshi’s Theatre, which in addition to letting you view enemies and music encountered in the game, gives you access to 31 stop motion animated videos. These are lovingly crafted using knitted Yoshis and Poochys, each one is short and endearingly sweet. Each one ends with a question concerning the contents of the video, a nice idea but pointless when the questions are extremely easy. A bizarre decision locks these videos behind a timer, a new video is accessible after 24 hours so you’ll have to play the game every day for a month, or you could just adjust the 3DS clock manually but again, it requires changing the clock 30 times.
All in all Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World is a great addition to the 3DS library; it doesn’t reach the heights of Super Mario 3D Land, Donkey Kong Country Returns or the recent Rayman games but its mix of fantastic level variety and unique art design helps form its own identity without a moustachioed plumber. Yahoo indeed.