The last Yoshi game I'd played was Yoshi's New Island on 3DS, which I felt wasn't a bad game but felt very much like a "by the numbers" affair. I'd enjoyed how Kirby's Epic Yarn on Wii provided a distinct change from the usual Kirby formula, so I was optimistic about Yoshi's Woolly World for Wii U.
Although the two games share similar aesthetics, Woolly World definitely feels like a Yoshi game. All of his (its?) moves are back, including eating enemies, creating eggs (in this game, yarn balls), flutter jumping, and ground pounding, as well as transformations. The design takes the 2-D yarn aesthetic of Epic Yarn and expands it to 3-D, and it's pretty amazing. Everything looks cute, cuddly, and super realistic, as if it could actually be made in real life. The gameplay is as tight as you'd expect from a Nintendo platformer (although it was developed by Good-Feel), and although it looks super cute, some parts are definitely pretty challenging.
I've gotten less into platformers as time has gone on, and Woolly World had a few things going against it. One is that the stages are all quite long, taking something like 15 minutes to beat without even trying to collect everything. This isn't out of the ordinary for a Yoshi game, but it took a certain amount of willpower for me to finish it since my usual MO is to barrel through a game. This game is so dense and slow that I couldn't really play more than a few levels at a time. There was a good amount of variety and enough new (or reworked) gameplay elements to keep me interested enough to the end, but the game is definitely lengthier than the average 2-D Mario game. I guess a lot of people would see that as a good thing, but I guess I prefer shorter levels and a shorter total length to match. As with the other Yoshi games collecting every thing in every level will double the length of your playthrough, at least.
Woolly World is definitely a polished platformer and a solid experience, and although it doesn't rank among my favorite platformers, I would actually rank it near the top of the Yoshi games. I agree with this NintendoLife reviewer who said that the series has never really lived up to the promise of the first game, which is a classic. Woolly World is the first game that actually feels like a next step in the series. The upcoming Yoshi game for Switch looks like it's just more of the same as Woolly World, but if it's as polished as this game then it should still be well worth playing.
Knit together these Yoshi's Woolly World links:
- Nintendo put out a bunch of videos for the game. Here's the E3 2015 trailer, and here's the Nintendo Minute episode.
- Nintendo Minute also highlighted a great level from Woolly World in their video on favorite winter levels
- Entry on mariowiki.com
- I couldn't resist getting one of the awesome Yarn Yoshi amiibo (I went for the blue one). It's so cuddly!