Yoshi’s Woolly World is a game I have mixed feelings about; then again I can lean either way on most Nintendo games now and days. Nintendo being something I grew out of many years ago I generally only play their games when I am really interested in them beforehand. Zelda still has a free pass with me but if I don’t get a Wii U version soon I will cut that loose. Pokémon I have a kind of love hate relationship with, I try to resist buying the new installments but sooner or later I give in to my urge of catching them all… not that I have since the gold version. Mario I just never had very much interest in though, the obvious exception being Paper Mario but as soon as Sticker Star was released I think I got over it fairly fast. I do remember the classic Yoshi games which I always really enjoyed, particularly the N64 version with its cute theme song. Nintendo already attempted this kind or revitalization with a Claymation version of Kirby that gave me the same feeling as Woolly world; trying to make something old and cute new by making it that much cuter by redoing it all in arts and crafts.
The game does look great though, seeing all of the enemies and worlds done completely in yarn has an intriguing appeal to it. Of course it has fairly standard world maps that all focus on basic themes but they still work. This doesn’t stop it from getting repetitive really fast though, like getting trapped in some old ladies knitting group; each one of them specializes in something and they’ll be dammed if they are going to change now. What I enjoyed the most was the sheer amount of different Yoshi’s to choose from… when you unlock them all that is. Although even that starts to repeat, for instance I had at least three different green Yoshi’s by the end with little to tell them apart. There are a few levels that really stood out for either appearance or the special features that they had but these were kind of few and far between. One of the final levels where you must jump from one sliding towel to the next comes to mind because it was fun and exciting to play. Games need a formula but making every level nearly identical or annoyingly difficult doesn’t really cut it.
The story is nonexistent which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise in this case. Someone kidnaps most of the yarn Yoshi’s for construction purposes which is a bit darker than usual. Then nothing happens for a really long time, Bowser Jr. shows up to whine like a bitch and the end. There is really no other part to the entire game which is probably why it gets so boring. There was one surprise character that brought life back into the game. Your faithful hound Poochy was actually a great little twist to the game and he can even fetch. The problem is that he only appears twice in the entire game without using a power up. This happens multiple times though; the game introduces a fun new game mechanic that is taken away again just as fast. The giant Yoshi was my favorite part but that only happened once. Why would a game introduce a mechanic just to remove it completely within the next couple minutes? Claymation Kirby had quite a few parts like this where Kirby would change into entirely different objects to change up the gameplay. To be fair, that is what Kirby does but at the same time it kind of feels like a slap in the face to introduce a mechanic for all of two minutes and then remove it again.
The gameplay is your basic Yoshi game; Yoshi can jump, lick and throw yarn. There is also the ground pound, the only thing you really need to defeat a majority of the bosses. Bosses are the real disappointment in this game with many of them repeating multiple times with slightly better gear, the most obvious case of ‘same monster but slightly stronger with a different color’ ever; except they didn’t even bother to change the enemies color. Collectible items are also extremely annoying because they are hidden all over the place with little to no clues where they are. Many times I missed an item just because I didn’t notice a normal patch of wall that I could actually go through. That’s just cheating when the best way you can hide items is by placing them in invisible areas the player may or may not stumble on to. Of course it became easier to identify these spots as the game went on but it also became harder to just keep testing things out. There is also a feature that lets you choose one power up for that level at a cost. This turned out to be a kind of mixed bag though. Many times the power ups were either too general to be of any real help or turned out to be useless in the level. You can guess before starting what the level will be like but it’s not perfect. You can practically skip the second half of the game though; the skip level power is cheap and can be used as many times as you want; which seems odd the developers would give you the ability to skip a good chunk of the content if they had faith in it.
The game itself is either really easy or very annoying and in place of a difficulty setting it has Yoshi with or without wings. If you have wings then you can float forever, which doesn’t make the game easier per say but it makes it a lot easier to avoid falling deaths which is about the only thing experienced players will have to worry about. Either way it only took me a day or two to beat the game itself but I suppose completing it would take significantly longer. I never did try co-op but I highly doubt it would change anything for the better; more likely just one berating the other for playing like shit. So is Yoshi’s Woolly World a good game? It is an interesting game to play that mixes up an old formula but at the same time it is still the same Yoshi underneath. Like an old rotting wall, you can’t just throw up some extremely colorful wallpaper and call it brand new. You can still clearly smell the rot and decay underneath the bright exterior. I bought mine with a yarn Yoshi Amiibo because I gave into the cute but I hesitate to tell people they should run out into the streets and buy this game. Maybe when the price drops but if you really love Yoshi or just really need to use your Wii U than it could be worth a try. Otherwise you could probably just get an emulated version of Yoshi’s Island 64, drape some fine satin sheets around you TV and still have much the same time playing.