Hands-on Preview: Yoshi’s Woolly World

Sheep sheered shenanigans!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/16/2014 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

As much as I think “Yarn Yoshi” had a better ring to it, I couldn’t help but smile when Nintendo officially unveiled Yoshi’s Woolly World. While the game clearly is taking cues from Kirby’s Epic Yarn, this latest fuzz fest has ratcheted things up to a new level. Nintendo’s E3 lineup was packed with games of all sorts, but Woolly World really separated itself from the pack. At an E3 where the first- and third-person shooter remained a regular fixture, it was refreshing to see Nintendo continue to churn out the sorts of games that it does like no other. Woolly World is cute and goofy, and all the better for it.

Nintendo went through a number of different designs for Yoshi and his environment in Woolly World before settling on the look on display in this E3 demo. Epic Yarn is going to get mentioned more than once during this preview, but I also detected some heavy shades of Yoshi’s Story, too. The environment is plump and rounded like that iconic N64 title, and there’s a pseudo 3D effect at play that makes it all look like an interactive diorama. Yoshi and his enemies are all rendered to appear like knit dolls, which is such a perfect fit for the affable dino and company. Everything looks cuddly and squishy in just the right way. Admittedly, there’s going to be a chunk of the population that isn’t interested in such a wealth of cuteness, but I found it all incredibly charming.

Gameplay-wise, Woolly World is a fascinating mixture of elements from Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Island. Rather than create and shoot eggs, Yoshi instead uses balls of yarn. As ever, Yoshi uses his tongue to ensnare and gobble up enemies, who he turns into yarn balls that either can be spat right back out or added to his ammo cache. Aiming and firing is the standard hold and release/arching reticule that fans are so used to. Where Kirby’s move set in Epic Yarn was a bit of a departure (no inhaling, no copy abilities, no floating), Yoshi ate, shot, and flutter-jumped just like he’s supposed to. That might make some people worry that Wooly World isn’t going to distinguish itself from the Yoshi’s Island series, but take heart; there’s plenty the game does to do exactly that.

First off, whole chunks of the environment can be pulled away and turned into oversized balls of yarn. There are numerous paths and secrets that can be found doing this, which adds a wonderful sense of exploration to the game’s platforming. One particularly clever use of the yarn I saw was that sometimes, a ball can be thrown at invisible platforms, which then renders them walkable. It was such an odd sight to see the platforms appear out of thin air, and had me searching all over the place for as many as I could find. Enemy encounters are also handled in a unique way. Piranha Plants become entangled in yarn once hit by a ball, which seals their mouths and leaves the creatures susceptible to a bop on the head.  There seemed to be no end to the creativity on display, no matter how long I played.

Playing with the booth attendant, I got to experience Woolly World‘s new two-player co-op. Nintendo’s efforts with co-op all tend to follow the New Super Mario Bros. method of choosing to hurt or hinder one another, and Woolly World is no different. I personally never have much fun with co-op because I’m inclined to burst out of the gates and do my own thing. Such was the case here, where… I found the booth attendant more cumbersome than helpful! What can I say, she kept swallowing me and spitting me into pits! All kidding aside, the co-op worked perfectly for what it was, and for fans who enjoy playing together, Woolly World will be a great addition alongside Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

Nintendo has been spoiling 2D platformer fans for years now, and with Woolly World it’s showing no signs of slowing down. The game is a tour de force of Wii U’s power (the yarn looks like it can actually be yanked from the TV and spun into a sweater), art design, and playful platforming. There was so much to soak in while playing the demo that I was genuinely sad to have to stop playing. Fans of Epic Yarn and Yoshi take note of Woolly World, because it’s shaping up to be a heck of a game.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!