Art design and direction in gaming has come quite a long way since I started gaming almost 30 years ago. Some titles have more artistic quality than actual gaming content (see Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for a recent example), while others have somehow managed to marry the two aspects into one cohesive piece of art (see Child of Light). With Nintendo’s latest title, Yoshi’s Woolly World, does their endeavor fall into the first or second category, or perhaps a completely different one altogether?
The short answer is that Woolly World manages to be both visually gorgeous and sneakily outstanding in gameplay. The former is an obvious statement; if you’ve seen any screenshots for the game, you’ll see that the yarn aesthetic is incredibly well done. There have been many times thus far where I would stop actually playing the game just to take in the surroundings. In addition to great character designs and simply outstanding landscapes, which all take place on a tabletop where someone has left all their crocheting/knitting items, the amiibo skins are even more adorable. I uploaded over 20 of my amiibo into the game, almost every one offering a unique look for Yoshi. Personally, my favorite was the Mega Man Yoshi, but they’re all fun and adorable.
The attention to detail in the artistic direction of Woolly World is truly amazing, and it bleeds over into other aspects of the game, such as animations and world interactivity. Pulling enemies apart (literally) and converting them (a very polite way of saying “dropping a deuce”) into yarn balls is hilarious and smoothly animated. Yoshi’s legs transforming into propellers, wheels, and many more objects is adorably beautiful and fun to watch. Unthreading secret areas within levels is both a fun addition to gameplay and a clever way to incorporate the yarn aesthetic. Woolly World won me over by its gorgeous display of cuteness. I can go on and on with all the wonderful little details sprinkled throughout the entirety of the game, but I’ll spare you by saying, “This game is a sight to behold.”
That said, I was a little curious how the gameplay would hold up, since Good-Feel’s previous yarn title, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, had no difficulty whatsoever. On the surface, Woolly World is similar in difficulty to Kirby’s Epic Yarn; but, when trying to gather all collectibles, and tackling some later levels and special levels in the title, the platforming quality of the title reveals itself. The difficulty in Woolly World is quite sneaky, since the game could be completed with minor aggravation. I was also a huge fan of the boss battles; well, if you could even call them battles. They are just as cute as the rest of the game, with Yoshi ground-pounding onto a fuzzy Monty Mole, or untying Burt’s pants so they fall down and make him blush – just to name a couple fights. The battles are creative, fun, and uphold the theme of the game perfectly.
In fact, all signs point to the title being an extremely easy and “chill” game; relaxing “coffee music,” the yarn aesthetic (crocheting is a very relaxing hobby!), and the general presentation of the game. In order to collect all flowers, yarn skeins, Miiverse stamp jewels, and keep all life hearts by the end of each level, some skills will be required. Though it never feels like the I’m-going-to-throw-my-controller type of difficulty, there is a nice balance in the platforming.
And speaking of that, I thoroughly enjoyed the platforming aspects of Woolly World. It is slower-paced, but it feels… well, warm and fuzzy, just like that handmade blanket your grandma crocheted for you when you were younger. Ok, so, it isn’t quite like that, but in all seriousness, when attempting to gather all collectibles and complete the special stages, Woolly World truly delivers. The controls are tight, the mechanics are fun, and combined with the platforming, these all create a solid outing.
So, we’ve got beautiful art direction, style, and visual display, and under-the-radar solid gaming mechanics and design; if those aren’t enough to make you curious, then the sheer charm and cuteness of the title might nudge you over the edge. I seriously couldn’t help but smile and/or chuckle about every five minutes playing through Woolly World. Yoshi turning into an umbrella to float up a yarnified tree (ok, so I made up a word, what’s the big deal?), watching enemies freak out and begin running away as Yoshi transforms into a Mega Yarn Yoshi, Shy Guys carrying around crochet hooks to try and stop the inevitable unraveling at the tongue of the hungry protagonist… there is so much cuteness in this game, my words don’t give it justice. Similar to the developer’s name, the game simply makes you feel good.
So, the bottom line is this: Yoshi’s Woolly World is a fun title that will make you smile. Will it win Game of the Year? Nah, I don’t think so. Will it completely blow your mind and change your perspective on games? I don’t imagine so. Will it push you to your absolute limits and make you want to throw your controller from the difficulty? Nope, not really. But, I truly think it will entice you to keep playing, and might even make your day just a little bit brighter.