Monday, February 1, 2016

[REVIEW] Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U)

Yoshi's Woolly World
Played on: Wii U
Genre: 2D platformer
Developer: Good-Feel
Publisher: Nintendo

The original Yoshi-based adventure game, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, was an excellent late surprise in the SNES library. Released as Nintendo's focus was already shifting to the Nintendo 64, it was a breath of fresh air with its highly innovative platforming mechanics and fresh pencil-like art style. Yoshi's Woolly World takes that game's legacy and runs with it, and while it doesn't offer a lot of innovation this time around, it's the kind of sequel fans of the original game would undoubtedly sign for.

Gameplay-wise, Woolly World is a fairly normal 2D platformer. You'll tackle different thematic worlds, each containing a few separate stages, as well as boss battles and a secret level. Yoshi's moves, including the air flutter and the egg-throwing mechanic, are back, and they remain excellent additions, even if they don't make quite as big an impression as they did when they were actually new ideas. Collectibles are present, of course: flowers unlock each world's secret level, special gems unlock Miiverse stamps, and the different-colored yarn rolls (my favorites) unlock fun new thematic costumes for Yoshi.

While the level design is actually pretty great, even I must admit to feeling a little burned out by Wii U sidescrollers at this point, as the game's overall structure doesn't do much to differentiate itself from the likes of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and New Super Mario Bros U. It's comfort food, then, and not necessarily a game people will fawn over, but it's so pristinely crafted that the experience ends up quite fulfilling.

As you may infer from screenshots, the art direction in the game is absolutely fantastic. The yarn theme is beyond adorable, and the characterization of the overworld as an actual table with knitting supplies goes a long way to pull players into the game's schtick. Both Yoshi and his enemies are all wonderfully animated, full of quirky little mannerisms, and the laid-back soundtrack offers the perfect vibe to just sit back and enjoy the whole thing.

Sometimes things get a bit too laid back, though: the actual level of challenge on most stages is a bit too low, making most of the game too much of a walk in the park, especially when compared to the excellent Tropical Freeze. Exceptions are the secret levels, which often require precise platforming skills and masterful use of Yoshi's abilities. If you're going for 100% completion, you'll also find a very good challenge in tracking down all of the collectibles, even if some of them (specifically, the twenty marked gems in each stage) feel a bit unneeded in the face of more rewarding items. Still, it's a shame that more stages couldn't go a bit further in the difficulty department, especially with the level design being as good as it is.

The game also features great local multiplayer mechanics and neat costume-based amiibo integration, rounding it up as a neat package for platforming fans. Even with an overall structure that has begun feeling a bit old again, Yoshi's Woolly World is a worthy entry in the series, and quite likely the best one since the original initially surprised us more than twenty years ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment