Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: February 3, 2017
Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided by the developer for review purposes.
I was genuinely surprised when I heard that Yoshi’s Woolly World would be coming to the Nintendo 3DS. Speaking in terms of the Wii U version of the game, even though the framerate visibly struggled at times, it was an impressively stylized adventure. Small frays of yarn from which Yoshi was knitted outlined his plush body, and the incredibly bright color palette created a sense of richness throughout.
I wondered, ‘if the with the Wii U version of Yoshi’s Woolly World barely escaped with its yarn balls intact, how would a handheld version in the form of Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World perform?’
For anyone that hasn’t played a game in the Yoshi’s Adventure universe, the games consist of more than your traditional Super Mario themed game. For starters, the levels are designed in an almost Metroidvania style of play. There’s no doubt that you will be searching high-and-low for floating question mark clouds to hurl your eggs at, yet another way in which Yoshi differs from other Mario titles. These question marks reveal new platforms to climb, keys to open locked doors, or objects you must collect to complete a level 100-percent.
If you’re not familiar with Kirby’s Epic Yarn (2010), it released on the Wii and paved the way for the yarn artstyle. Both Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Woolly World have been developed by Good-Feel in partnership with Nintendo and tout a certain level of charm. But, the arts-and-crafts design is as much of a game mechanic as it is direction. Objects and enemies can be unraveled, while framed outlines can be doused in fabric by spitting or tossing yarn balls at them. Yoshi can eat a variety of different enemies and objects. The ability to consume varying items ties into how you puzzles and how you must solve them.
It’s hard not to compare the Nintendo 3DS version of Yoshi’s Woolly World to its Wii U counterpart. Even as I played both versions at the same time to compare visuals, there is a definite level of flare that’s missing from the handheld version. This is slightly remedied by enacting the 3D slider on the 3DS, providing some additional depth to each scene.
One of the biggest differences between the two games is the addition of Poochy. The plush dog can be dropped into a level at any point via amiibo. Poochy helps in certain areas, allowing Yoshi to reach higher platforms and grab other items. And, if you play the game in “Mellow Mode”, Poochy Pups are hurled in lieu of yarn balls, and unlike “Classic Mode”, your supply cannot be depleted. Mellow Mode provides a lower level of difficulty and you can toggle them on the fly. There are also small videos of Yoshi and Poochy revealed on a daily timer. Watch them and answer questions to grab some additional gems. These videos offer yet another tie-in for Poochy and additional content. Unfortunately, the Poochy amiibo wasn’t included with the review copy.
The addition of Poochy does provide more than simple hints and help. The Poochy Hut found in the title screen throws you into Poochy Dash, which allows you to collect gems that can be spent on power-ups. These levels have their own challenges, including a “Gold Rush” mode where you collect only gold gems. I was glad to see that the inclusion of Poochy was done in this way, delivering more content outside of simply porting the game to the ‘3DS.
Differing yet again from the Wii U version, the ‘3DS version of the game no longer houses a 3D world map. Instead, a side-scrolling map of each level helps you move between worlds. I actually like this over the isometric view of the Wii U version. Level content, such as yarn spools collected, can be seen on the lower 3DS screen. It also helps to move to things like the Yoshi Hut or levels with a simple touch. And, this time around, Yoshi’s can be customized and created instead of simply collected.
While most of this review has been spent comparing the two versions of the game, the actual gameplay itself should be mentioned. Looking at Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World as a standalone, the game provides quite a challenging experience.
On the surface, the cutesy art style and bubbly music is a distraction to the platforming dangers that lay ahead. I won’t lie, I turned on “Mellow Mode” more than a few times during my playthrough. I’ll just say it was for the sake of making progress on the levels. In reality, it was because I’m a hoarder and I couldn’t help myself from grabbing every smiley yarn and flower tacked to the most inconvenient crannies of a level. Any given level will have you running up, down, left and diagonal to complete it. This often invites more than a single playthrough of a stage.
Yoshi’s Woolly World on the Wii U showcased some really impressive experiences overall. Like the first time I leapt into the cotton ball like clouds, or saw a giant yarn Yoshi bash through giant log structures, I couldn’t help but think how dang neat it was. These moments of awe get lost in the redundancy in level design and boss battles. When new abilities are introduced, like the motorcycle Yoshi, or even the cloud yarn balls you throw to create platforms, they are executed quite well. Aside from these selective instances, levels become a chore to complete, especially with the short-sided checkpoints. This redundancy is something that doesn’t escape either version of the game.
There seems to be an easy answer on whether or not to buy the Nintendo 3DS version Yoshi’s Woolly World. If you own a Wii U, there’s no doubt that the console version is the definitive edition. It is the right platform and medium to fully express the art direction that the game was built upon.
There are still plenty of challenges and content to be found in the ‘3DS version of the game. The uniqueness and musical charm are present, just not in a way that complements the console version of Yoshi’s Woolly World.