Yoshi’s Woolly World brings the cute of Yoshi onto the Nintendo Wii U for the first time and combines the cuteness with cooperative gameplay that is fun but rather childlike and simple. Is this the game you want to get your kids or even yourself? We take a look as we hop through 48 levels in Yoshi’s Woolly World.
As a Nintendo platformer, Yoshi’s Woolly World definitely comes out on top in terms of platformer design and handling. The storyline involves Bowser’s evil advisor and Magikoopa Kamek coming onto the Yoshi island dwelling and taking several Yoshi’s and turning them into yarn. Two Yoshi’s are left and chase after him. This is where the adventure begins and for the most part the storyline has the formulaic approach of chasing down the enemy in this manner.
The game design of Yoshi’s Woolly World is entirely straightforward and adolescent/younger teen players will love the simplicity of the series’ game design. It’s simple to traverse the fluffy wool levels as Yoshi where you swallow enemies and turn them into yarn balls of the small kind. Get enough yarn balls and they end up big with no real distinctive advantage to them, which is something I found rather weird. As you traverse through the colorfully painted and vibrant levels, you reach your goal and essentially that is as complex as Yoshi’s Woolly World ever gets. The levels are somewhat inventive, but most of them are not entirely very creative as much as they are straightforward. You can collect 5 pieces of yarn to bring back one of your Yoshi friends, but the placement of these pieces are hidden a little too randomly across the maps in obscure manners which is something most players will find frustrating. You can then become the design of the different Yoshi you choose such as “Flower Yoshi” or tap an amiibo to become the design of your amiibo for further Yoshi customization fun.
With two-player cooperative Yoshi gameplay, yarn becomes somewhat of an issue. Yarn accumulation design leads to a lot of confusion considering the yarn balls follow Yoshi around like a tail. When two players get involved with a 5-yarns maximum per Yoshi count, then things start looking much messier than they need to be with 10 yarn balls in between two closely paired Yoshi friends. Both players may lose sight of their Yoshi and this can add complications to two-player cooperative gameplay. Levels in classic mode compared to mellow mode are almost indistinguishable considering there is no ‘lives’ counter for either Yoshi and no real element of fear/surprise in what should be a sort of dangerous world. Rewards therefore take a steep nosedive and so does wanting to keep moving forward with the game other than as a passing form of entertainment while two players are bored. Boss battles fare no better in Yoshi’s Woolly World as the bosses are incredibly easy and there is absolutely no reward for completing levels. The only rewards in Yoshi’s Woolly World comes in the form of daisies/yarn collection and that’s it, which is a shame. Power Badges can be used to clear levels for a certain amount of beads which are used as currency throughout the game, but largely end up being useless. Using a Power-Up Badge to make all yarns big or to clear a level really makes little to no sense in terms of practical usage.
Yoshi’s Woolly World art design is wonderful, but I cannot help but feel a strong sense of LittleBigPlanet throughout the whole experience. It seems like a very scrapbook arts/crafts environment where textures are wonderful, the music is lively, the clouds are full of fluffy beautiful cotton qualities, and the whole landscape is vibrantly stitched together. Nintendo has done a great job at least in terms of creating cute levels that are colorful and bright even though the concept or usage of yarn is not as pronounced as it could have been to further gameplay depth.
Yarn on paper could have served as an interesting dynamic considering the entire game takes its name from the ‘wool’ prefix, but at the end of the day I felt the yarn element was more of a gimmick than anything. We never really understand why all these Yoshi are yarn and we never truly see the concept of yarn being used across the game’s level design. Sure you can flick yarn balls at empty levitating platforms that are outlined and swallow enemies to make them yarn but yet the whole thing feels shallow, most certainly without real depth to the gameplay. Levels could have taken advantage of the yarn aspect other than just being unraveled by Yoshi’s tongue, but instead they seem plain and lackluster in their usage of yarn and variety of yarn-like design.
Yoshi’s Woolly World should serve as a fun game for kids and adults to either play together or by themselves. At its essence, however, Yoshi’s Woolly World comes off too complacent and almost too simple for its own good to be fun on a whole other level for serious platformer lovers. The yarn concept comes off like a gimmick in the game design, the actual rewards system of the game is lacking substance, and the motivation to keep moving forward through the incredibly easy levels dwindles very fast for anyone who has played really exciting platformers like Super Mario or Donkey Kong. For those who haven’t or don’t like those sort of serious platformers,Yoshi’s Woolly World definitely has a purpose and a home.