I'm going to open by saying I love Yoshi's Island. It was built around a set of mechanics that while easy to figure out had a host of depth to them. The children's drawings that make up the graphics are something I'd never seen up till that point and I've never really seen outside of this game and the DS sequel. It's a magical game that I revisit ever so often for comforting warmth. It's sequels have failed to capture that magic for me till now with Yoshi's Woolly World.
What sets Woolly World heads above it's hand held brethren is the spark of creativity. Yoshi's Island DS had some of that too but it added little to the experience and felt bloated instead of fresh. While Yoshi's New Island lacked soul and had some out there ideas on hidden objects that sadly Woolly World picked up. Then we're at Woolly World and it's hard to really put into words but there this sense of wonder and desire to keep it fresh that permeates the experience. It instills the urge to keep playing just to see what's thrown at you next.
The story is as such: Kamek is back for probably the fourth or fifth time to get something for Baby Bowser only this time everything is made of sewing supplies because why not. It has more in common story wise with Yoshi's Story what with the lack of Mario. I could sit here and nitpick about why everything is suddenly yarn but it's not really the point. I'm here to see creative visuals and look for hidden items. The levels are wonderfully designed; each with a unique feel that burns them into my memory. Sure they do borrow thematically from the original game on occasion but unlike Yoshi's New Island it's less copy/paste and more jumping off point. It gives the game it's own identity while still having that Yoshi's Island feel. If only it had taken more of a page from it's book on secrets.
Woolly World has a sound set of rules for how to find it's hidden flowers,yarn, and stamp patches that aren't too bad once you start thinking like the game. It does become blatantly obvious once you're in that frame of mind where objects are hidden. However Woolly World did pick up some bad habits from New Island such as walking over a certain spot making a line of gems appear with no real indication that it would do so and unlike most secrets these are never hinted at well enough. Luckily these are not as common as New Island.
The other major thing Woolly World picked up from New Island was how it handled Yoshi's transformations. Both this and New Island took the original's idea of just hitting a bubble to transform and instead put you on a timed course. Here I think they are handled much better than in New Island. They have a tighter feel with some more entertaining transformations like the motorbike and mermaid Yoshi.
Also making it's debut in the series is Co-op mode or as it was known in the olden time: be a jerk to your friends mode. You can eat each other and launch your partner like a normal yarn ball or spit each other up to ledge you could have reached had you not been farting around and destroyed the path to it. Joking aside it's a fun time to be had and it helps to have an extra person on screen to help search for secret areas.
While the game has made plenty of tweaks and additions, the core mechanics still remain unchanged. The flutter jump still works how it always has and the yarn balls obeys the same physics that eggs used to even if they have some new functions: like binding enemies and stitching together new platforms. The former is implemented in some new mechanics such as making your own chomp rocks out of Chomps and blowing up a bullet bill canon. It also brought over the right level of challenge. The game is easy but not insultingly so and the bonus levels retain the brutal difficulty spike. There are one time use badges that can be purchased with in game gems that make levels a joke are hardly necessary. The only real compliant I can lodge at this game is that it only has two mini-bosses reused thrice: Montgomery the Mole and Knot-Wing the Koopa. They are changed up enough between each battle but it still feels a tad lazy.
The game takes full advantage of its' sewing tin aesthetic with enemies being made of various yarns, buttons and what not. Bigger enemies appear knitted together like the Blargs made out of scarves and smaller ones like Shy Guys unravel as you eat them. It makes everything about this game adorable and fluffy. The theming of worlds and levels could have used a little work as while most levels do fit into the world they reside in, some feel forced. Such as the weird Arabian Nights level in the middle of the icy tundra world.
The game's soundtrack is varied and goes places I wouldn't really expect for a Yoshi game. From the simple happy “Yoshi and Cookies” to the hard rocking “Lava Scarves and Red Hot Blarggs”,which is something I never though I'd hear in a series that is using a more child like tone of music. I looked forward to going back through some levels for secret hunting just to hear certain tracks again. Special mention to “Up Steeplethread Pass” which has this melancholic post Christmas feel that sums up perfectly the bleak loneliness and maze like layout of the level. Some levels do have reused tracks from other levels and they mostly work but can feel out of place since I linked them with another level so strongly in my mind.
So now that you've read my love letter to this game and it's older sister while bashing on the ugly middle children,go buy this game. If you have a Wii U then this is a must buy and if you don't well then don't rush out and buy one or anything but once you do get this game. Woolly World captures the original's spirit while also standing proud as it's on entity.
Till Next Time: Stay Positive