Yoshi’s Woolly World

The first impression anyone will get from Yoshi’s Woolly World is that it’s a child’s game: and you’d be correct.

Nintendo has positioned the Yoshi games as platformers for younger children for several iterations now. It really began with this title for the Wii U, which also has a “Mellow Mode” to make the game even simpler for those smaller tykes who may be playing alongside their parents.

Mellow Mode makes this game almost too boring to want to play, unfortunately. The regular mode may bring it back to speed with the “Island” series of games (which offer a far greater challenge) but the repetitiveness of Woolly World can, and likely will, get to more mature gamers.

With that said upfront, this is still an enjoyable game with superb art direction, graphics, audio, and controls. The style of the game is at the forefront, as noted in the title, everything is geared toward yarn – think grandma’s knitting – as Yoshi creates “yarn eggs” now, and unravels enemies and secret areas like kittens playing with a ball of yarn on YouTube.

Throwing yarn balls at “invisible” outlined targets covers them in yarn to complete necessary platforms or unlock areas of the level.

It’s a really cool mechanic that fits well within the Yoshi genre – so well, that I think this game is underrated and overlooked due to being too simple at times (and ignored by more serious gamers).

Yoshi, himself, operates in the same manner as Island games, however, there’s no babies on Yoshi’s back anymore – your life is a circular heart meter similar to the timing mechanism in previous games when a baby was knocked off of Yoshi’s back.

The game is geared toward completionists, with plenty of replay value… if you want to actually grind through and replay it.

I found collecting every flower, piece of yarn, rubber stamp and more to be monotonous. However, some of it may be necessary to proceed later in the game.

Collecting everything will unlock a different color or “themed” Yoshi which you can swap to play as – a pretty cool reward if you ask me.

Poochie also makes a cameo appearance along with some other familiar Mario characters. (The various types of Shy Guys are especially cool.)

In all, Woolly World is an enjoyable, but super easy romp. Like most Wii U games it’s lost to time for a console that didn’t sell well. Unlike some of the best Wii U games, this one wasn’t reissued for the Nintendo Switch, instead getting a port to the 3DS which doesn’t hold up as well graphically (but is aimed at a better, young target audience of that handheld console.)

If you have the ability to check this game out, as a fan of Yoshi games or simple platformers – or have a kid that’s getting into gaming, this one is highly recommended. Hardcore gamers can safely bypass this as it won’t be their cup of tea.

Yoshi’s New Island

Somewhere along the line the Yoshi’s Island series of game became lost.

Originating with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, of which this game takes it’s namesake, Yoshi spun off into other games, but always retained a similar feel to its Super Nintendo roots. That is, you eat enemies, create eggs, shoot eggs, and flutter-jump around.

Yoshi’s Story for the N64 was a totally inferior take on the concept which attempted to also put Yoshi into a new 3-D art realm. That concept carried over into other Yoshi titles such as Yoshi’s Wooly World on the Wii U and Yoshi’s Crafted World on the Nintendo Switch.

However, the jump from the N64 to the Nintendo DS saw a return to the similar crayon art style of SMW2, with some new concepts such as multiple babies (aside from Mario, there was Peach, Wario, and Donkey Kong, among others) plus the game utilized the top and bottom screens of the DS simultaneously to expand upon what was a critically acclaimed game in SMW2.

However, Yoshi’s New Island, which would release eight years later on the newer Nintendo 3DS, is such an inferior step back that it was actually painful to play.

It’s not because anything is broken, but it’s because nothing was retained between SMW2 and this game: it is literally SMW2 on a handheld, plot included.

That should be more of a good thing, but unfortunately, it’s not. The game relies too heavily on a collection scheme for replayablility. That’s the usual completionist aspect of getting 30 stars, and finding every red coin and flower.

Gone are the other babies, and even the dual screen aspect. Yes, it can be “3-D” but the graphics are essentially a more polygonal skin of SMW2. Even the menus are precisely the same.

Since collecting every object in a level is no prerequisite to advancing in the game, I found it monotonous to get through each level. You can barely die. There’s no real challenge to just going from beginning to end, and at that, many of the levels are simply too darn long.

There are some new concepts, one of which is larger enemies which turn into larger eggs to clear large areas. It looks cool the first time, but is nothing but a gimmick as the game goes forward. In fact, the one thing they added to this game is more of what made the original annoying: more vehicle areas.

Yep. Those bubbles that transform Yoshi into a helicopter or whatever else, and you have to beat the timer to get to the end? Be prepared to be even more annoyed as they’re more frequently used in this game too.

Honestly, you could literally fall asleep playing this on the couch.

That may sound harsh, but having played every game in this series (and even realizing the difficulty is dumbed down to be aimed towards younger kids) I found this addition to the series to offer practically nothing new, and lack the usual Mario/Yoshi charm.

Check it out and see if you agree – just make sure you find it secondhand. I would classify this game as comparable to the movie you wished you had waited to rent, rather than pay top dollar to see in the theater!

Yoshi’s Island DS

The Yoshi’s Island series originally spun-off of the sequel to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, with a mechanic where Yoshi eats enemies and then shoots eggs while protecting Baby Mario throughout six worlds filled with various traps.

That original game used a special graphics chip to pull off a unique artistic style which has carried over into the other Yoshi games, including this direct sequel to Super Mario World 2, entitled Yoshi’s Island DS.

As you may have guessed, the “DS” in the title means it was developed for the dual-screen Nintendo DS handheld console, which had many games which lacked a real need/use of the second screen, making the console, at times, feel gimmicky.

Having played the Yoshi titles out of order as well, I was fairly burned out on the series. The N64 Yoshi’s Story was barely a “game”. The newer 3DS iteration, Yoshi’s New Island, was practically a direct clone of SMW2 and hence, got repetitive quickly.

The same could be said for latter editions on the Wii U and the Nintendo Switch, which felt like new paint jobs of the same old Yoshi gameplay, often dumbed down for a younger audience.

Imagine my surprise picking up this title that I had missed in the middle of all of the plodding and boring gameplay of some of those titles. Yoshi’s Island DS isn’t a gimmick, using both screens in a top-down double screen layout of levels that feel massive in scope, breathing new life into boredom of the series. Though the ability to see more is seen as a gimmick in and of itself (and the bottom touchscreen goes unused) it feels like a true title made for the DS and adds to the fun.

Seeing as this was the sequel of the series, I can now understand why other sequels were made, but an actual “DS 2” version needs to be done as this may be the standout title of the series. Joining Baby Mario on this adventure are Baby Peach, Baby Donkey Kong, and Baby Wario, with the ability to also control Baby Bowser at one point as well.

All of the baby characters have their own special powers, and with the ability to change them at certain stations throughout the worlds/levels, really opens up the uniqueness of this game and replay value, as you may have to go back through with a character previously unavailable in your quest for 100% completion.

Everything else, however, remains largely the same as the other Yoshi games, with a decent but not insurmountable challenge to beat the game.

I highly recommend this title if you enjoyed any of the other Yoshi games and feel it’s a hidden gem on the DS console.

Yoshi’s Story

The Yoshi games have roots in the Super Mario Bros. lore: the very first “Yoshi” game being Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. That game broke barriers in video games for its use of the Super-FX graphics chip, allowing SMW2 to have a unique “drawn” presentation.

The unique concepts continued through Yoshi’s Story; a game initially developed for the non-existent Nintendo 64DD (disk drive) hardware. It was converted to cartridge and a game I overlooked back when the system was in its heyday: and now I realize there’s a solid reason for that.

The game is not your linear playthrough like Yoshi’s Island. Instead, it’s a four-part “storybook” presentation which alters depending on how you play each chapter of the book. The cardboard book format looks good for the N64, but due to the gameplay tweaks the title offers little to no challenge, unless you want to fiddle around with collecting all of the items.

In order to clear each chapter, you eat fruit: and depending on how/what fruit you eat, alters the next chapter. You can easily breeze through the game in about an hour without giving it much thought. My initial feelings were that the game was designed for younger kids. You can make the game play a bit deeper, but once you beat it so quickly, the entire thing feels like a waste.

So much so that I feel it’s easily the worst Yoshi title I’ve ever played.

If you’re a completion freak you may find this fulfilling, otherwise, you can largely ignore it. It doesn’t play like any of the other Yoshi games in the main series and as such, it may confuse and/or annoy you.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

This one took awhile to complete, but it brings back some memories… both good and bad.

The good: incredible graphics, especially for a Super Nintendo title. Solid gameplay with high replay value. Plus, it’s Mario and an extension of the same Koopa/Mario story, so what’s not to like?

I’ll tell you what: crying baby Mario!

If you’ve never played this title, it’s still a favorite going back to my childhood. However, the mechanics are as follows: swallow enemies using Yoshi and turn them into eggs you can use as a weapon or to unlock areas. Don’t get hit however, or you have ten seconds (which countdown super-fast and is more like 5-6; a known bug in the SNES version) to grab Baby Mario who floats around on and off of the screen in a bubble.

Sometimes saving Baby Mario will send Yoshi to his doom. Other times it’s just annoying, cheap areas of constant crying.

Overall, I love this game. The graphics were second-to-none in that era and still hold up incredibly well in 2018. The sound is so catchy my daughter was humming it in the car… and the final boss battle is not only really unique but could be the best audio track in any 16-bit game. Ever.

My only other gripe with playing it is the stupid “special” areas where Yoshi can turn into a helicopter or a bulldozer. He looks like a generic version of Pixar’s “Cars” and it just seems so out of place.

This one’s highly recommended for anyone on a Mario kick… and trust me, I have more Mario to come!