Yoshi's Woolly World
Nintendo fans have been playing as the adorable dinosaur, Yoshi, since the earliest days of the Super Nintendo. Whether it's Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Story, or even Super Smash Bros., we've all become pros at the cuddly critter's moveset. These abilities all survive the leap over to Yoshi's adorable makeover in Woolly World, down to heavy duty butt stomps and fluttery jumps.
I ventured over to Nintendo's booth during E3 2015 to test my long-untested Yoshi skills in the Wii U game. Muscle memory clicked in almost immediately, thanks to Nintendo's penchant for tightly calibrated controls and intuitive level design. Also, the fact that Woolly World pulls its punches to remain accessible didn't hurt my reacclimation. Unassertive shyguys and piranha plants make up most of the early enemies prowling the whimsical windmill world. Yoshi's traditional butt stomp causes the dinosaur to morph into a mallet, making his fast impact appear to pack even more of a whallop. I enjoyed inhaling shyguys and turning them into yarn balls which can be chucked around the environment. Yarn balls are versatile projectiles, which can bind up piranha plants for easy disposal or fill in the outlines of objects with yarn. Materializing hidden warp pipes or windmill blades with precise throws is satisfying.
Speaking of throwing, tossing yarn balls in Yoshi's Woolly World feels similar to Super Mario World: Yoshi's Island for SNES or Yoshi's New Island for the 3DS. One button press causes an aiming reticle to extend out from Yoshi and sweep back and forth, allowing players to line up shots. I found this function easy and precise during my time, but unfortunately at this point in development it appears that toggling the reticle is the only option, compared to Yoshi's Island which allowed you to pull up the aiming assist by holding down a button then tossing an egg by releasing it. It's a subtle difference, but can throw off the rhythm of experiences Yoshi fans.
Visually, Woolly World takes several cues from the handcrafted look of Kirby's Epic Yarn. It also borrows the gem collection element. Shiny, colorful collectibles are scattered and hidden through the levels, which Yoshi (and a co-op pal if they're available) can collect for a better end-of-level score. Flower pick-ups are also hidden, which are there for completionists rather than pacifying a crying Baby Mario. \
While Woolly World shares several similarities with Epic Yarn, the penalty for death seems a bit stricter in terms of penalty for death. In Epic Yarn, Kirby merely loses his hard-won gems when hit, and doesn't die when losing them all. However, in Woolly World Yoshi can lose enough hearts that the poor guy will die and have to restart at a recent checkpoint.
Nintendo has some adorable characters, but despite their cute nature a lot of those games can be quite difficult. Games like Yoshi's Woolly World are breezy, enjoyable reminders that platformers don't always have to be blisteringly difficult to be enjoyable. Woolly World comes out this October on Wii U, so we don't have to wait long for an undeniably cutesy dose of casual fun.