E3 2015: Yoshi’s Woolly World Is More Than Just A Cute Face
I can already see that Yoshi's Woolly World is going to shock a lot of people. Not because of anything controversial -- how can anything starring Yoshi be controversial? -- but because of the surprising complexity of some of the game's puzzles. I figured that this game would lean heavily on its super-cute, d'awwww-inspiring world of yarn and wool, pulling in players that way but never really challenging their platforming abilities. After demoing the game with a Nintendo rep at E3, hoo boy was I wrong.
The demo game me three stages, each one increasing in difficulty. Not wanting to look like a slouch but not wanting to embarrass myself either I chose the middle "normal difficulty" level. This was a labyrinthine maze with multiple planes, as my partner in Yoshi and I were frequently traveling through passages to either side of the maze. Secrets were hidden in every conceivable place throughout the level, as we were always bumping into hidden question clouds or finding secret paths in walls as we adventured. I doubt we found everything due to how much there was to explore in the short demo, but we certainly tried to leave no stone unturned.
I found myself consistently amazed at how we two Yoshis were able to use and manipulate the world around us in order to advance through the level. A transparent platform needs filling in before we can use it? Throw some yarn at it and poof, there's a fresh platform in the color I'd just thrown at it. A Chain Chomp has placed himself directly in my path with no direct way to destroy it? Use those corners on the ceiling to deflect a yarn shot at it and press on. Perhaps my personal favorite is being able to consume my fellow Yoshi, turn him or her into a yarn ball, then shoot that ball to quickly transport my partner to an out-of-reach door or secret collectible. Nothing is out of reach when working as a team, and that's a beautiful thing.
Alright, I've been trying to avoid talking about it, but I guess I just can't any longer: look at how friggin' cute this game is! Everything about it seems like it was programmed specifically to give players a big silly grin on their faces as they journey through this woolly world. Yoshi himself is cute, his voice is cute, the enemies are cute, the allies are cute, everything about this game is just cute overload and it makes me so happy. I don't even understand why; I'm not usually the cutesy type, but man I just want to play this game over and over and get happier and happier as I go. For a company that's always tried to make players happy, Yoshi's Woolly World must seem like a masterpiece.
If I have any complaint about my brief Woolly World demo it's the lack of punishment for failure. Whenever either Yoshi would be damaged or defeated, they would just fall apart, then reappear on-screen as if nothing happened. "Dying" in this game seemed like more of a minor inconvenience than a major problem, and I wonder if that was just a choice made for the demo instead of the real game. There's already a "Mellow Mode" option for those who don't want challenge that gives the Yoshis wings to soar around the level with, so why would the Normal mode bestow unlimited lives on us? I'm willing to bet that the unlimited lives was just so I could complete the demo level, but if it wasn't I fear that a lack of consequence might take away from the overall challenge.
With Yoshi's Woolly World just a few short months away for the Americas, the game is shaping up to be every bit the endearing adventure we expected. The level designs can be challenging, but any frustration they may cause will instantly be washed away in a sea of warmth and cuddliness; like being under a warm wool blanket. Yoshi's new adventure will be a wonderful world of wool if E3's showing is any indication, and I'm excited to see the rest of what it has to offer.
Yoshi's Woolly World hits Wii U systems exclusively on Oct. 16.