If there was an award for Cutest Game of the Year, Yoshi’s Woolly World would have already won it. What sets this game apart is its agonizingly adorable visual language, where everything you have ever loved from the old Yoshi’s Island games has been translated into things you would find in your grandmother’s craft room. From yarn balls to confetti, every item and effect in the game has been painstakingly designed to achieve maximum cuteness overload. Yoshi’s new digs are definitely similar to a certain PlayStation exclusive potato sack looking kid… but let’s pretend it’s because they shop at the same clothing store.
Our story begins with sorcerer Kamek turning all of the Yoshis into bunches of Wonder Wool. After his rampage is over there are only two yoshis left, and your job is to collect the wool to form the yoshi again and stop Kamek. Lucky for us, after collecting 5 bundles of wool in each stage the yoshi can be re-knitted back together. In addition to the wool, each stage also has the 5 classic smiley flowers to collect and 20 different stamps that can then be used in your Miiverse creations. The gameplay is extremely similar to previous Yoshi games, and your moveset is essentially the same. The only major difference is instead of gobbling up enemies and turning them into eggs, they will turn into balls of yarn. Even though the controls are very similar to previous games, Woolly World feels like a fresh revival of Yoshi’s world with new mechanics and charming graphics.
Once I started playing, I was absolutely hooked. This game brought me back to being a kid and playing Yoshi’s Island on SNES. If you’ve enjoyed any older nintendo games (Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong Country, etc) this game will hit you right in the nostalgic feels. Just like the classics, this game has tons of hidden stages, collectables, and bonus levels and, surprisingly enough, after clearing the first few stages I started getting challenged by this game. The completionist in me was craving every stamp, smiley flower, and wool bunch and while getting through the game ends up being moderately challenging, completing it at 100% is actually really difficult. Going for that 100% is justly rewarded however—after collecting all 5 yarns in a stage, you unlock a new yoshi pattern to rock, and after collecting all 40 flowers from each world, you will unlock that world’s bonus stage. I definitely found myself taking another 5-10 minutes running around the same level looking for the last smiley flower. It can get frustrating at times, especially when that last bundle of yarn is on a platform that disappears after you jump on it once. Luckily, the game has a built in system to help you through those times when all you want to do is scream at your screen and make your Yoshi Amiibo burst into flames with the stink eye alone. You can spend your gems that you’ve collected in the stages on different badges that give you power ups, like bouncing back up instead of falling into an abyss or being able to use Poochy, your loyal dog. There is also a “Mellow Mode” difficulty, where Yoshi sprouts wings to help you glide through the stage with ease. Using those badges or Mellow Mode is also totally optional, so for all those masochists out there, feel free to continue to suffer through grabbing that wool hovering over lava.
It’s also important to note that this game has an incredible range of different stages. I found myself really impressed with not only the visual design of the game, but the actual design of the different levels. Within the same 30 minutes of playing you could be on a beach bobbing between piers and water, then in caves underground, then soaring through the air as an umbrella, then jumping on bubbles, then having crocheted cookies fall on top of you. Each level is uniquely fun and has it’s own unique touches. At times however, even though the designs of the levels are varied, the gameplay isn’t, so after playing for an hour or two in a sitting, I started getting bored of looking for flowers. While Woolly World does a great job at changing up the look and feel of the levels, the monotony of finding the same types of collectables in the same general ways can feel too similar at times and can become a bit draining.
The saving grace to this feeling is when you have a friend to call up because HOT DAMN!this game shines in co-op. I convinced my girlfriend to play alongside me—she will be the first one to tell you she doesn’t like playing games and is not the best at them. Not only did she seem to enjoy gobbling up my yoshi and spitting me out into instant death, but she also seemed to like Woolly World. So much so, that the next day when I came home from work, she asked if I wanted to play “that wool game.” Coming from someone who has little to no interest in games, this was a 10/10 rave review from her, and rightfully so. Playing co-op is extremely fun —the gameplay stays exactly the same—but I found that it was much more lighthearted and fun when I could share the frustration of not knowing where the last smiley flower was with another human being. I’m also still unsure if Nintendo meant for sabotage to be so attainable in their co-op as it\’s really easy to kill your teammate with a (potentially well placed) throw of wool or “accidental” gobble throw.
If you\’re looking for a Wii U game with that classic Nintendo feel, look no further. This warm and fuzzy iteration of Yoshi is fun for anyone, regardless of age. With some of the cutest graphics on the Wii U, Yoshi’s Woolly World is not a title to pass up. Underneath that adorable facade is a solid platformer with as much, or as little, difficulty as you choose.