There are cute games aplenty for Nintendo’s current handheld. Whether it’s involving Nintendo’s very own mascot plumber or a constantly disgruntled ape looking for bananas, the 3DS is not short of child-friendly games. They certainly take away the grisly tension of killing zombies or getting the crap scared out of you and, most importantly, they are a lot of fun. Sure, you can indulge in big, open worlds completing mission after mission or compete in online death-matches, but nothing takes away the feeling of accomplishment when you’ve reached the end of a level. Super Mario Bros. was the first to introduce this structure, and it shaped what we now call the platforming genre.
Yoshi’s Woolly World was a Wii U release two years ago, and it proved to be a hit with the majority of critics praising the game. It prompted a port for the smaller screen, but instead of a straight-up port, developers Good-Feel have added some extra content to the dismay of exclusive Wii U owners. Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World includes Yoshi’s pet dog, Poochy, who not only can assist Yoshi on his journey, but he can also be controlled in his own little mini-game.
Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World sees Yoshi and his coloured pals turned into yarn and whipped away. Yoshi’s world around him is inadvertently transformed into yarn too which, collectively, produces one of the most original platformers I’ve ever seen. Yoshi, his friends, his world, all engulfed in the fluffy material you would normally find your sweater made out of makes for some interesting scenarios, but whilst dampening the menacing nature of Yoshi’s foes, Yoshi’s adventure is still a treacherous one; forty-eight stages of pitfalls and meanies that have since become a staple in anything related to Mario and his associates.
Yoshi controls no differently in Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World to when he first appeared in Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo. Yoshi runs and jumps as standard to the genre, except the jump button can be held in to make him stride frantically in mid-air, which gives Yoshi extra airtime to reach higher platforms. Enemies are dealt with either by traditionally jumping on their heads or by using Yoshi’s long tongue to lasso the smaller varieties, pulling them into his mouth. Once an enemy is apprehended within the confines of Yoshi’s jaws, they can be spat out like a shy guy missile or swallowed which causes a ball of yarn to hilariously pop out of Yoshi’s derriere. A whole string of yarn balls can be pooped out which trail behind Yoshi wherever he goes. This acts as Yoshi’s ammunition cache, as these balls can be thrown at any time to dispatch larger baddies or unveil the many secrets concealed in each level which are the main challenge in this otherwise cake walk of a game. Yoshi’s tongue can also be used to unthread parts of the environment to unveil hidden pathways or collectables that would be otherwise invisible, making the yarn theme more relevant and imaginative.
Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World’s main frustration is its overly-easy difficulty. Whilst primarily aimed at the younger audience, more casual gamers will find nothing to cause a stir and literally breeze through the levels; however, the forgiving difficulty doesn’t diminish the fun and excitement one bit, thankfully. Some levels often change things up from the standard running and jumping to timed sections, which transforms Yoshi into such manifestations as a Yoshi umbrella or a Yoshi motorcycle. These sections add variety and do wonders to keep this game interesting.
If you find yourself struggling for whatever reason, that is where Yoshi’s canine companion comes into play. Switching the game over to its alternate play mode affectionately named ‘mellow mode’ makes the game almost impossible to fail. In mellow mode smaller Poochies trail behind you just like the yarn balls do and act as infinite ammunition. They also scope out secrets within levels which helps in finding that irritating final flower or string collectable; finding them all unlocks a new coloured Yoshi or, if you’re the creative kind, you can use the creation mode to design your very own Yoshi. Of course, mellow mode takes away any challenge as even Yoshi has sprouted a set of wings which allows him the ability to float, so pitfalls aren’t an issue either.
You can play as Poochy too in his very own mini-game. Appropriately named ‘Poochy Dash’, this mode plays similarly to a conventional endless runner game found typically on any modern mobile device. Poochy runs automatically and players must simply time his jumps to collect beads and string collectables, eventually reaching the goal. Hitting obstacles doesn’t kill Poochy, instead he loses a handful of beads before shaking it off and continuing on. This mode wasn’t available in the initial Wii U release and is a welcome addition to the handheld version, as it certainly adds a degree of longevity to an already lengthy adventure.
The only aspect which suffers in Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World are the visuals. It goes without saying that the Nintendo 3DS is nowhere near as powerful as the Wii U, so something had to go, and thankfully that was graphical fidelity rather than gameplay. Textures aren’t as rich as they are on the Wii U, but that’s not to say that it’s a bad looking game. Quite the opposite, it’s a rainbow assault of bold, rich colours that is complimented by the one feature the 3DS has over its big brother, 3D. This effect works wonders and adds an impressive amount of depth to every scene. A notable highlight is the very first mid-castle boss fight, a large mole who burrows underneath the patchwork arena that the battle takes place in. His bump is clearly visible as he moves around in the background, which makes fantastic use of the 3D effect. There is no mistaking that Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World is an adorable platforming game that is jam-packed full of charm.
Release Date: 3rd February 2017