Nearly two years ago, back when Nintendo wasn’t yet talking about the NX and the Wii U was still managing to unearth a few gems here and there, Yoshi’s Woolly World launched at exactly the right time. Yoshi was back in his own platformer, quipped with some delightfully designed levels, a range of gameplay options that eased you in before significantly testing your abilities, and various options to take the experience co-op (and mellowed out) for some relaxed play time with kids. It was a near perfect title for the Wii U, and much of that has thankfully transitioned to the new 3DS port.
Now named Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World thanks to a lot more screen time for Yoshi’s knitted best friend, this 3DS port manages to maintain the high bar set by its bigger sibling, while only slightly compromising on some of its most alluring features. The port adds in some new content too – not enough to perhaps justify a double dip, but enough to convince you that Nintendo didn’t just strip and slap this game on their persistent mobile platform.
From the moment Yoshi’s Woolly World is booted up, you know that your eyes are in for a visual treat. The care taken with the knit work in the Wii U version of the game was an exemplary exercise in attention to detail and inspired art design, and it’s for the most part upheld on 3DS. The smaller resolution loses some of the finer details (it’s a lot less clear that Yoshi is a crochet creature, along with the world around him), but the vibrant colours and ever-changing level backdrops never ceased to bring a smile to my face.
The smaller real estate also has a negative impact on treasure hunting, which is the hook that this Woolly World sinks in from the get go. Each stage is littered with collectibles, from smiling sunflowers to bundles of wool that you’ll need to knit back your fellow Yoshi compatriots. These are ingeniously (read: they’re incredibly hard to find) around each level, but sometimes stand in plain sight. Little ribbons that denote an area begging to be unravelled, for example, will often hide some treats. But I often raced passed them due to not being able to really see them, leading me to seek out help for a second run.
Yoshi’s Woolly World had a Mellow mode too (it allowed Yoshi to hover infinitely and not die from falling), but Poochy adds in another element to that. To make up for the lack of co-operative play, mellow Mode now includes three little Poochys that follow Yoshi around the stage, sniffing out treasures for you to find. They don’t outright bring them to you so you’re still left to figure out correct sequences to overcome the puzzles, but it adds another layer of relaxation to a mode that drastically changes the game from a dextrous challenge to a breezy platformer.
But you’ll really want to keep it off if you want to truly appreciate the gameplay that has seamlessly transitioned over here. Yoshi is still able to tongue and unravel enemies, ejecting them out from behind to have little balls of wool follow him around like ducklings. You can then shoot these to take down larger enemies, knit together back pieces of the world and reach collectibles that are simply too far for your little green arms.
Levels use this along with simple platforming to great some incredible tense moments, especially in the latter half of the game. It switches from a slow pace to near gruelling gauntlets of reflex tests, with the finely tuned controls and pixel perfect design holding up to the task. The cute exterior is there to draw certain crowds in, but don’t be fooled. This is a challenging game, and increasingly so if you manage to unlock some of the borderline frustrating secret stages.
It’s disappointing then that this doesn’t always extend to the 3DS’ additional content, which primarily rests on the shoulders of Poochy Dash. Here you take control of the four-legged. yarn knitted bundle of joy as he races through slightly less taxing stages. Since Poochys movement is automated here, you’re just focusing on timing and chaining jumps, which include bouncing off enemies heads and collecting smaller Poochys around each stage.
Stages in this mode are unlocked fairly infrequently though, and even then only last a few minutes at best. Additional challenges are presented to you to run through each stage again (along with the allure of collecting more beads to spend hardly anywhere), and these can add a little challenge to each run. Most settle for collecting a certain number of beads or level specific items, but you’ll likely find it hard to draw as much enjoyment out of this side activity while the main game lies in wait.
The same goes for the Yoshi theatre, which features some delightfully stop motion animated stories with Yoshi and Poochy. The videos themselves are brief and are presented on the basis of claiming rewards for watching them, which ties the entire thing behind a rather ridiculous unlock wall. Each snippet unlocks only once a day, so if you’re just keen on a few seconds of pure, unfiltered happiness via the video itself, it’s extended over a month-long period. It’s clear the aim is it pad out the rewards, which are honestly secondary in the grander scheme of things.
There is an argument to be had for the amount of time I spent crafting my own Yoshi with the surprisingly robust creation tools on offer, but there’s little to invest in on this 3DS port if you already happen to have played Yoshi’s adventure on Wii U. If you haven’t though,, there’s a just as viable argument not to miss out on this second offering, and especially so given its fantastic recreation on the smaller, less powerful device.
Sometimes those compromises can get in the way of the overall experience, but when you’re white knuckled on a level where you just can’t time that jump and shoot quite right, the beauty of Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World manages to outshine the very few blemishes the port has managed to pick up. And even if Nintendo finds itself in this space of soon supporting to mobile ecosystems, this is one 3DS game that will surely stand the test of time.