Yoshi's Woolly World
Following the debut of Yoshi’s Island on Super Nintendo in 1995, Mario’s thankless babysitter has seen a number of sequels take advantage of his egg-throwing and float-jumping abilities. Each has been a disappointment, however, each for its own reason, but not Woolly World. After 20 years, Super Mario World 2 finally has a worthwhile successor.
Woolly World looks fantastic, and though its yarn aesthetic is not an original one (developer Good-Feel created 2010’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn), the game expertly embraces a feel all its own by presenting a world that truly feels knitted together. It’s the perfect follow-up to the 1995 original’s crayon-drawn style, and I was still remarking on the small touches and details of the world all the way up to the last level.
The gameplay is similar to Yoshi’s Island, with the ability to eat enemies to create yarn balls (the new egg stand-in), throw those yarn balls, and use a jump that fits comfortably between a double-jump and full flight. It feels smooth and is a vast improvement over last year’s 3DS title, Yoshi’s New Island, which felt slow and sometimes unresponsive.
It’s hard to make a crocheted blanket intimidating, so you would be forgiven for assuming Woolly World is easy. It can be easy if you so desire, with its Mellow Mode and badges that give Yoshi temporary power-ups like immunity to fire and lava, but a challenge is here if you want it. I never threw the controller down in desperation, but I lost a surprising number of lives in more than a few sections. I embraced the challenge, however, and was appreciative that it never became a boring walk in a beautiful park.
Check out our Test Chamber of Yoshi's Woolly World
If the standard challenge isn’t enough, you can always add a second player. Co-op is one of the big back-of-the-box bullet points, and while I am happy the option exists, I found it much more enjoyable without a second player. There isn’t much real estate in the levels for two players, and it was always a struggle to figure out who the screen was following, leading to surprise deaths. Griefing your co-op partner can be fun, as you can eat them and turn them into a yarn ball or spit them away from the action, but it turns out this isn’t a great way to progress.
Along with collecting flowers and hidden Miiverse stamps (red coins in previous games) every level contains five skeins of colored yarn. Collecting them unlocks new skins for Yoshi, and it’s fun to see what each skin looks like, even if some of them are quite ugly. It makes searching every nook and cranny of each level worthwhile, as I found myself frequently changing out my Yoshi for the latest style.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is the Wii U’s best-looking game, as well as the best Yoshi’s Island since the original Super Nintendo title. It has a great balance of challenge, exciting bosses, callbacks to the first game, and enough new mechanics and touches to make it easily stand above each attempt at creating a Yoshi’s Island successor of the past two decades.