I am not what you would call a "hardcore gamer." I don't enjoy shooters; I don't have the time for RPGs; and my last dance with open-world gameplay was a 45-minute joyride through the faux-LA of Grand Theft Auto V. But, oh, do I love me some Yoshi's Woolly World. The upcoming, cutesy Wii U title, due out this fall, has a shared DNA. It's a hodgepodge of past Yoshi's Island games and the Wii title Kirby's Epic Yarn. That last bit of pedigree makes complete sense when you consider that the game's being developed by Good-Feel, the very same studio behind the aforementioned Kirby title.
Yes, the beauty of Yoshi's Woolly World lies in its stunning, yarn-spun aesthetic, but the same can be said for the gameplay. As with most of Nintendo's beloved franchises, the mechanics feel familiar, though not stale. When I demoed the title at the company's E3 booth, I was able to immediately pick up and play without any coaching from the nearby rep -- a factor CEO Satoru Iwata said the company would be stressing with the majority of its games.
For those not well-acquainted with the series, Yoshi's Woolly World replaces the eggs that've long trailed Yoshi for balls of yarn. With the help of a wandering cursor, triggered by depressing the ZR button, players can set the angle of attack with "Y" and let loose a yarn ball attack. This results in delightful animations, like a thread encircling and sealing shut the mouth of a piranha plant. Of course, players can always default to either jumping atop enemies or using Yoshi's tried-and-true elastic tongue to suck them in and "transform" them (through digestion) into additional yarn balls.
It bears repeating that the game, unlike Star Fox Zero, is gorgeous. Nintendo's Wii U may not be on par with the silicon juggernauts that are the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but the art style of Yoshi's Woolly World more than makes up for it. The environments, characters and enemies all have a storybook quality and truly look as if they were spun from yarn, replete with telltale frayed threads.
The game also includes helpful support in the form of Amiibo. By placing the made-from-yarn Yoshi Amiibo on the GamePad's NFC receiver, players can add a duplicate Yoshi into the world; one that'll mimic your every movement. You can even ingest this Amiibo Yoshi for an extra ball of yarn should you need it. What's more, the game also supports a handful of other Amiibo that'll give your in-game Yoshi a makeover. So, for example, if you tap a Fox McCloud Amiibo on the GamePad, Yoshi will adopt a Star Fox-themed look. It's a thoughtful touch that should lend the game extra appeal and also give Amiibo collectors something to do with all those figurines.
Yoshi's Woolly World's visual appeal is both a blessing and a curse. It runs the risk of condemning the game to a kiddie corner when, in actuality, the game boasts some difficult platforming elements. If you own a Wii U or plan on picking one up in the near future, you won't want to miss this adorable spin on the platformer.
[Images credit: Nintendo]
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