The Yoshi’s Island series has always been one of my favorite platforming series. They give you a completely different feel for a platformer than Nintendo’s more famous plumber does. The games always encouraged exploration and precision to me more than Mario games did. I also really liked Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The game was beautiful on the Wii. When I heard that Yoshi’s Island and Kirby’s Epic Yarn were getting together in the form of Yoshi’s Woolly World I was excited. That game was also really, really good. Now we’re getting the chance to take that game with us wherever we go in a 3DS port of the game. That game is also really, really good.
Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World feels more like a traditional Yoshi’s Island game than anything else. It has the same visual feel of a game like Kirby’s Epic Yarn, but sticks to the original source material more than that game did. You have most of the same design elements of the Yoshi series. You’ll find hidden clouds in all the nooks and crannies of the levels. You’ll find seeds that make elements of the world grow. You’ve got enemies that can be turned into yarn balls (effectively the same as the eggs from a Yoshi game). The only thing missing is Baby Mario on your back. While that’s an element of that series I don’t mind I’m also glad it’s not around this time. It’s nice to have a little break from the whiny kid every now and then. It makes me appreciate, though, how that one element can change the way you play a game. You have to be more cautious when you carry around Mario because losing him means you’ve only got a few seconds to get him back or you lose a life. You move around levels in Yoshi games more cautiously than other platformers. That’s gone this time around so you’re able to move around the world more, but it also means you’re susceptible to taking more damage.
The game takes an obvious hit in terms of just how good it looks. In the Wii U version of the game you can see the individual threads. Everything has real depth to it. Everything has real weight to it. You could see the levels moving and giving way under Yoshi’s feet. It was a small touch, but it made the game feel that much more real. It really felt like you were playing a game from characters and worlds that were made of yarn and cardboard. While some of those fine visual touches have been lost in the transition to the 3DS the game still looks really beautiful. Textures aren’t as defined and some of the overall size of some of the worlds feels smaller. However they’ve added a nice 3D effect to the game that gives this version a little more depth than the original game did. So much of the game feels more like you’re looking at a child’s diorama in a shoebox than it did before. Again, it’s a small effect and one that won’t ultimately make much difference in your enjoyment level, but it’s one of those things that just make Nintendo games so much better than anyone else’s.
One of the biggest changes to the game is the inclusion and focus on Poochy as a character. In the Wii U game he could be purchased as a badge with the beads you collect in-game. He would then show you where hidden items were located, would help you avoid pits and traps and would help you jump up to higher areas that might be hard to reach. He can now be unlocked for free in any level by tapping the new Poochy amiibo to the 3DS screen (a feature that was also patched into the Wii U game). Not only that but there are new Poochy exclusive levels. These can be accessed by grabbing one of the flowers at the end of each level. These new Poochy levels replace the mini-games that were in previous Yoshi games and let you collect large amounts of beads to purchase badge upgrades more easily. Each of these levels also have objectives giving you reasons to go back and replay levels more times. These objectives could be things like popping balloons you find or collecting a certain number of beads. Using the Poochy amiibo on these levels unlocks a bonus fourth objective that if you complete will allow you to change the way Poochy looks, much like you can with Yoshi.
Speaking of character customization this game allows you to create your own Yarn Yoshi designs that you can use in the game. You have two different ways that you can decorate Yoshi. One is by collecting the orange pencil collectibles in the game. By collecting as many of these as you can you unlock special templates that you can apply to a blank Yoshi. They can be things like watermelon designs, or camoflauge or flame patterns. If you’re into more customization you can enter the Pro mode which will let you free draw on different parts of Yoshi and create whatever design you can think of. You can use these as playable Yoshis in the game or share them with friends.
In Mellow Mode (the game’s easy mode for younger players) you have the ability to fly through levels avoiding pits and enemies giving you a much easier chance to simply finish the levels. Not only that, but three new characters, the Poochy Pups, have been included. These characters will act not only as guides, telling you where hidden things are in levels, but they also act like yarn balls meaning you’ll always have at least three available at any time.
What did make the transition was the solid platforming the game offers. There’s a nice balance between challenge and fun, between exploration and straight platforming. Good Feel has done a good job taking a traditional Yoshi’s Island game and mixing it with the creativity of a Kirby game. They’ve wrapped it all up in a lovely package that filled with unique bosses and adorable characters.
Is there enough in this game to justify purchasing it again if you played it on Wii U? I’m not sure. The only real new inclusion are the Poochy exclusive levels. Maybe that and having the game with you wherever you want is enough. If you didn’t play the game on Wii U and you own a 3DS you might want to look into this. It’s a really great platformer that gives you something different from Mario or other games in the genre.
Review copy of the game provided by Nintendo
Played through the full campaign.
Total Play Time: 12 hours