By Kyle Holmer. This is LOAD FILE, where we proudly state that sometimes fake-shooting an egg can be just as fun as fake-shooting a gun. This week, Kyle gobbles, poops, and shoots many a Shy Guy in ‘Yoshi’s Woolly World’, developed by Good-Feel and published by Nintendo for the Wii U.


Here’s an interesting fact: there hasn’t been a game starring Yoshi in nearly twelve years. That statement should be met with a slight sense of surprise, followed immediately by understanding, acceptance, and finally disinterest. That’s not to say Yoshi is a useless character — if you’ve played Super Mario World, you know that’s not the case — but for the most part any game revolving entirely around the character has been pretty uninteresting. For example, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, despite shamelessly capitalizing on its predecessor’s flawless reputation, is by all accounts a perfectly acceptable platform (if you’re able to ignore Baby Mario’s blood curdling scream). It wasn’t revolutionary by any means, but it is exactly as competent a platformer as one would expect from Nintendo. Its successors, Yoshi’s Story and Yoshi’s New Island are also just okay; suitable and engaging, but quickly forgotten upon completing the game.

Now it’s 2015 and Nintendo has decided once again to drag T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas out of the closest and push him into the limelight, hoping that a fresh coat of paint will be enough to sate fan expectations. Unfortunately, and I don’t mean to jump the gun, but I should say this outright: for those looking for a Yoshi game to end all Yoshi games, Woolly World is not it; it’s just more of the same. As a matter of fact, besides a handful of elements, the mechanics are ripped almost completely out of 1997’s Yoshi’s Island, but if you consider the rarity at which Nintendo releases new entries in the Mario franchise, that should be more than enough to warrant a look, despite any mechanical stagnation.



Yoshi’s Woolly Worlds starts like every other game in the Mario-verse: some jerk showed up and stole a bunch of stuff, and now you need to run around collecting the aforementioned stuff enroute to confronting said jerk. In this instance, it’s the magikoopa Kamek, who has vivisected all but two of the adorable inhabitants of Yoshi’s island. And now the survivors (by way of the player) must travel a series of wonderfully designed levels to collect the woolly entrails of their recently separated brethren. It’s a carbon copy of every Mario and Yoshi game to date, but even after so many years, it still works; again, not revolutionary by any means, but fans of the series should already know what to expect in terms of narrative.

What the game lacks in storytelling it more than makes up for with fantastic gameplay (again, Nintendo to a T). Woolly World is a pretty traditional platformer; the core mechanics remain consistent with each level, offering significantly different ways in which the player can interact with the world. It’s honestly amazing at this point that Nintendo is able to keep the gameplay this consistently engaging without modifying the basic framework. They’ve proven once again that they are untouched in the platforming landscape.



The first several worlds, of which there are six in total with nine levels apiece, will seem surprisingly easy; most players will be able to breeze through the first half of the game quite quickly. At about the halfway point, the difficulty will increase dramatically, especially if you’re the type of player who makes a point of gathering all collectibles. The difficulty spike can appear quite suddenly, but it won’t take very long to become acquainted with the changes (don’t let the aesthetic fool you, this game will provide plenty of challenge regardless of the perceived targeted age group).

Beyond the difficulty spike, the level-to-level changes are also significant; each new level provides Nintendo an opportunity to explore a brand new mechanic, and despite the consistency of the core controls, there’s a supreme amount of mechanical variety in each new area. In addition to those design shifts, there are occasional segments where Yoshi will transform into one of a series of different forms, offering even more variety. Nintendo has also included Amiibo and cooperative support, the latter of which is not only unnecessary but also obnoxious. It’s meant to encourage Woolly World’s replayability, but for most those will seem like unnecessary inclusions.

If you’ve happened upon any screenshots of this game leading up to the release, you should already be aware of this fact, but it bears repeating: Yoshi’s Woolly World is an absolute knockout. Nintendo initially tried out this aesthetic with 2010’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn but the strides they’ve taken in that time to improve the concept are unbelievable. Every inch of this game is stuffed (pun intended) with yarn: all of the character and enemy animations creatively depict Nintendo’s vision of a hand-sown world, and unlike Kirby, it’s pushed into every facet of the game as opposed to superficial cosmetic change. The attention to detail is reminiscent of the Playstation 3 sleeper hit, The Puppeteer, although unlike that game, Yoshi’s Woolly World exists beyond pure aesthetic; it’s both consistently fun and, at times, challenging.

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I think it’s easy to be cynical about a game like this; for the most part, a lot of us take for granted just how well Nintendo can make a game. Yes, Yoshi’s Woolly World is in many ways an updated version of Yoshi’s Island and if you take that at face value, it’s easy to look at this game as a disappointment. It’s almost an objective fact that the Woolly World is visually stunning, but for most that won’t be enough to warrant a purchase, especially if you consider the lack of evolution this series has demonstrated.

However, Nintendo has proven that it’s not always necessary to change a game’s defining systems in order to remain engaging. Purely through imaginative and balanced level design, Nintendo has demonstrated that as long as you don’t keep dragging the same tired franchise out year after year, developers can keep a series alive and strong without having to sacrifice its defining systems. Yoshi’s Woolly World is unquestionably more of the same. But as Nintendo has proven, that’s not always a bad thing.