Yoshi’s Island on the Super Nintendo is a gem of a game. Annoying Baby Mario crying aside, it’s innovative art style and approach to gameplay make it one of my all-time favourites. Since then, Yoshi’s platforming adventures have been mediocre-to-terrible affairs.
I long for the day when Nintendo makes a true successor to that under-the-radar classic, but for now, I have Yoshi’s Woolly World. While it does star Mario’s dinosaur sidekick, this is more of a spiritual successor to Kirby’s Epic Yarn thanks to its fabric-to-life art style and general approach to difficulty. This may not be the Yoshi game I asked for, but is it one worth playing anyway?
Nintendo may have used this art style before, but it’s certainly a welcome addition here. The entire game just exudes an air of life to it thanks to everything in the game being designed after real-life objects. The game also makes clever use of the art style to open up gameplay opportunities. For example, certain walls can be unraveled by Yoshi untying the knots with his tongue.
Throughout the course of the game, Nintendo comes up with a number of neat ways to further justify the art style. Admittedly, the game at first is kind of a snoozefest due to world 1 being way too easy, but from world 2 onward the game is much more enjoyable. By the end, I actually found it really challenging, which was a welcome surprise considering how easy it was at the beginning.
One of the neat aspects of the game is its Amiibo support. The game recognizes dozens of Amiibo figures, which can be used to give Yoshi a costume based on that figure. Some of them look really freaky, such as the Mario costume, but the rest are welcome additions to the game. Certainly nothing revolutionary, but it’s nice for those who have a stash of figures at home. You can also scan in a Yoshi Amiibo to get the double Yoshi effect, but I actually found it super annoying in practice. The game isn’t really designed to support this function, so it leads to a lot of obnoxious babysitting of the extra Yoshi.
One not-so-neat aspect of the game is that there are some uncharacteristic performance issues. During more intensive moments, the game does stutter and slow down a bit. It’s by no means game-breaking, but I was surprised to see this in a Nintendo game. They’re usually top notch when it comes to solid framerates, so this was a touch disappointing.
Slow start and some framerate issues aside, Yoshi’s Woolly World is a solid addition to the Wii U lineup. It’s not going to surpass Yoshi’s Island in terms of excellence, but it’s far closer to that standard than Yoshi’s Story or Yoshi’s New Island ever were. Come for the cuteness, stick around for a pretty decent platformer.