If you’re a fan of previous Yoshi games, then you’ll probably enjoy Woolly World for what it is. Adorable visuals, tight gameplay mechanics, and charming characters abound in this latest entry of the series, but it’s held back by a lack of challenge, short campaign, and monotonous gameplay.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is gorgeous. The use of yarn aesthetics to bring the world to life immediately evokes memories of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, with the exception that in Woolly World you’re actually able to watch the visuals on the big screen instead of starting down at your gamepad. Off-tv play is available, but you’re much better off experiencing this journey on the big screen; it’s an absolute joy to look at.
The gameplay of Woolly World doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Yoshi jumps, he can flutter to hold his jump a little bit longer, and he aims projectiles with a constantly moving cursor. This isn’t such a bad thing, as solid reliable gameplay is probably one of the reasons that most people pick this game up. Worthy of note is that it comes with default controls that cater to a younger audience; experienced Yoshi gamers will want to choose the more familiar alternative control scheme.
While the gameplay feels incredibly solid, what’s missing is challenge. Unless you enjoy collecting things, the game is just plain easy. It’s a breeze to fly through stages; Woolly World even offers a “mellow mode” where less experienced gamers can simply float through the level, though it’s tough to imagine for Yoshi veterans a time where they would ever need this advantage. Boss fights are particularly lackluster; bland and uninteresting exchanges featuring the same “hit enemy three times” formula have grown stale.
That being said, if you like collecting, then there’s plenty of challenge to be found. You can collect flowers, bunches of yarn, and stamps in each level, and collecting all of each category rewards you with some sort of perk. Even if you’re not into collecting, it’s tough to resist collecting the bunches of yarn as they unlock new adorable Yoshi’s that are hard to avoid smiling at. You can also access an extra stage in each world by collecting all the flowers for that world, if you’re so inclined.
The game does offer some neat variations through the use of novel gameplay elements like “plane yoshi” and “mole yoshi,” but those techniques are gone almost as quickly as they appeared. It’s a shame because taking this idea further would have added more interesting stages and potentially some new types of challenge.
Woolly World offers amiibo functionality – by scanning an amiibo, you get either a second yoshi in the game or a Yoshi dressed up in an outfit corresponding to the amiibo you scanned. Yoshis in costume are cute enough, but playing with multiple Yoshis is often confusing and not helpful. It’s hard to follow who you’re controlling, and it ends up just being an exercise in frustration.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is charming to the nth degree. Older more experienced gamers may feel let down, as most of the music, challenge, and overall atmosphere is geared to little children. Nintendo usually does a fantastic job of managing to walk that fine line in creating a product enjoyable by generations young and old, but it feels like they missed the mark this time and too heavily skewed the game to the former. It’s a shame, because the makings of a fantastic game are all there, but ultimately Woolly World misses the mark.