Yoshi’s Woolly World is the most recent and most adorable game in the Yoshi series. Released on the Wii U last year, the developers Good-Feel place Yoshi in a world entirely made of wool, all woven together. It is very visually pleasing but the gameplay, although fairly solid, leave a lot to be desired.
Yoshi’s Woolly World’s mechanics are largely similar to the previous Yoshi games: you have the standard Mario type platforming but Yoshi also has an ability to eat enemies and turn them into balls of wool. The wool can then be thrown to attack other enemies or to reach certain locations. In the previous games these balls of wool were eggs which they acted in the same way. So, there hasn’t been much change in what Yoshi can do, however the Woolly setting lends itself to some interesting gameplay design.
For example, in one of the earlier levels, there is a Chain-Chomp enemy. – it’s basically a big metal dog. You throw wool at them and then they turn into a big woollen ball that you can push about. The whole level uses this puzzle in order to reach the end, and then we don’t see this mechanic used again. I’d say that this is the games strongest feature as each level has its own unique mechanics, and then once the level is finished, it gets rid of it. Nothing outstays its welcome and it keeps things interesting.
The platforming itself can get rather difficult later on, however there is an easy mode that gives you endless flight which makes things a bit easier. It can be quite punishing if you are stuck on a section of a level while trying to get all of the collectables and then dying. You are put back at the last check point and have to recollect everything again.
However, the power badge system may help with this. Before starting the level you are given the option to spend gems in exchange for a perk that will help you through the level. These power badges are things like, you won’t fall into a bottomless pit and instead bounce back up or immunity to lava and fire. I’d say play the level first and then buy a perk if you’re struggling with it. You don’t want to spend unnecessary gems or buy immunity to lava only to find out that there is no lava at all in the level.
There are far too many collectables in Yoshi’s Woolly World. In each level there are five balls of yarn, five flowers, twenty stamps, and you need to finish the level with full heath in order to fully complete the level. The best collectables are the balls of yarn as they unlock different Yoshi skins that you can play as. Some of which can be quite cute indeed. And you see an immediate return of your efforts for collecting the yarn which I haven’t seen in the other collectables other than the stamps.
The collectables are usually found in hidden locations and it’s quite likely that you’ll have to replay level if you want to 100% complete the game. Even when I tried to go really slow and look in every nook and cranny I still missed things. This does give the levels a bit replay value but it’s not that satisfying playing through the levels again when you are familiar with everything and are exclusively looking for collectables.
I got the copy of the game that came with the woollen Yoshi amiibo and although it’s adorable its function in the game is absolutely terrible. When pressed on the game pad the amiibo spawns another Yoshi that you can control. What’s really bad about this is that you control both Yoshis at the exact same time. If you press jump they both jump in sync and if they are near each other and you try to eat something the Yoshi behind will eat the Yoshi in front. So the amiibo kind of acts like you always have a yarn ball but this is more of a hindrance than a useful feature. It was very easy for the Yoshis to get separated and then I had to backtrack and struggle to get them near each other again. Other amiibos can also be used but all they do is provide another unlockable skin to play. But I do have to admit it was quite cute playing as a yarn Link/Yoshi.
Yoshi’s Woolly World has strong core mechanics and a really good looking ascetic but apart from that there is not much there. The original Yoshi formula has not really been changed at all, Yoshi still pretty much plays since the first game in the series. The games collectables often feel like they are just there to extend the games life rather than being fun or something worthwhile to put your time into. And the amiibo Yoshi itself is simply frustrating to use, I think it’s best service as the cuddly toy it is. With all this said if you like hardcore Nintendo platforming you’ll probably get something out of this game, otherwise perhaps you should give Yoshi’s Woolly World a pass.