In October of 2015, one of the most well known platformers for the Wii U was released: Yoshi’s Woolly World. If you’ve seen the game in action or the Amiibos created from it, it’s charming as hell. In just a few hours as I type this, that game is being released to the 3DS, with some components added and removed. Let’s have a closer look.
Like most Nintendo platformers, Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World has a basic story to get things going, and then classic platforming and collectible-hunting across dozens of skillfully crafted 2D platforming levels takes over. The story here sees an old nemesis, Kamek, visiting a peaceful area of Yoshis made of yarn. Kamek turns several of these Yoshis into balls of yarn and takes them away. Yoshi and Poochy avoid being turned into balls of yarn, and set out across six worlds and all original forty-eight levels (eight in each world) to stop Kamek and restore the Yoshis.
Gameplay is accessible and familiar, with a couple of available control schemes. Jumping, floating, eating (by sticking out Yoshi’s long tongue), and throwing balls of yarn are some of the most commonly used actions. Learning the controls and getting a feel for the mechanics takes no time at all, and Good-Feel did a great job of making their game as inviting as possible. Difficulty in general, at least as far as I have gotten so far, is very fair and comfortable. There’s no time limit in the levels, and no life limit either, which I rather like. Keeping Yoshi alive is typically pretty easy and intuitive, although I got bit by several ‘blind’ jump-falls and, at times, the checkpoints felt a little bit too far apart.
Besides losing time, the nuisance with replaying areas is having to defeat the enemies again, platform the same areas again, and collect everything — again. Gems, which are numerous and the most easily gotten collectible, are used to buy optional Boosters in between levels that do things like giving you an extra chance if you have a jump-fall death. There are also twenty crafting pieces to find to help you build and share your customized Yoshi’s, which you can do from the ‘lobby’ screen in the Yoshi Hut. There are also five flowers and five pieces of yarn in each level, and these are often hidden extremely well. I was pleasantly surprised when my exploration turned up these hidden items, and yet other times I was quite surprised when my searches turned up empty (having thought I was super thorough). Progress for these collectibles is of course tracked, and it’s the pursuit of 100% that will get many gamers coming back for more.
Speaking of unlocks, there are numerous Yoshi skins to unlock and you can create your own with the Professional mode in Yoshi’s Hut. An Easy Mode makes it, well, easier, thanks to the use of pre-existing designs that you can toy with. Personally, I didn’t find much appeal with this feature, but I’m sure much of the target audience — kids — certainly will, which is great. Next door to Yoshi’s Hut is Poochy’s, and from here, as you unlock them, you can replay special stages created just for the 3DS game. These Poochy stages are often time-based or setup not too unlike Super Mario Run in that you dash through stages with Poochy, snapping up as many gems as you can. This is especially nice to have as it’s a new feature not seen in the Wii U version, and that’s probably a nod to the fact that one major Wii U feature — local co-op play — is missing from this 3DS version. That said, for me, these special extra stages and playing with Poochy did not do much for me.
While the new features for the 3DS version are welcomed, they don’t appeal much to me, but, the core forty-eight levels sure do. I find this game to be very charming and relaxing to play, and that’s for several reasons. The pace, challenge, controls, general gameplay, the graphics, and the music all make for a really enjoyable game that’s hard to put down. I’m continuing to play this on a New 3DSXL and the visual presentation with full 3D is stunning and comfortable. And, while accommodating, Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World is not a breeze to play through. Nintendo decided to address this too for very casual players or younger ones with Mellow Mode. You can actually enable this mode mid-level, no restarting required. With it, three Poochys spawn next to Yoshi and help him sniff out secrets, sometimes they attack enemies in front of you, and they give you a constant source of projectile attacks. Plus, Yoshi is able to float indefinitely to negotiate the tougher platforming areas, although failure is still possible in these scenarios.
Nintendo could have ported the original Woolly World just as it was and it would still be a solid game, but I like that Nintendo made some additions. Granted, we’re losing co-op play with the 3DS version which is too bad, and the graphical fidelity is reduced, presumably due to the 3DS’ reduced power compared to the Wii U. But what’s gain instead is substantial, and it makes this game a must-have for those that do not already have Woolly World on the Wii U.