Before getting the opportunity to sit down with legendary game designer Takashi Tezuka, I needed to first get my hands on the two games of his that were playable on the show floor: Mario Maker and Yoshi’s Woolly World.
I only had limited time available so one of the lovely guys from Nintendo’s Treehouse handed me a Wii U gamepad, loaded up Yoshi’s Woolly World, and let me play.
The first thing that hits you is the art style; it’s gorgeous. While Kirby’s Epic Yarn saw a woollen Kirby in a world of felt, buttons, zips, and other assorted craft material, Yoshi finds himself entirely in a knitted rendition of the environments we know from his previous outings: bright colours and cute rounded characters everywhere.
Yoshi, himself, looks like a brought to life Amigurumi (knitted soft toy) as seen in this Legend of Zelda Chu toy.
The gameplay is exactly what I had come to expect. Yoshi can flutterkick, eat up fruit and enemies, and throw about eggs created from the foe he has eaten.
It’s so great to see how Nintendo have thought about how a toy would need to be adjusted to do certain actions. When Yoshi picks up speed his legs unravel and are replaced with wheels, when he flutterkicks they unravel to become a small propeller. It looks great.
There are some new additions to the ways that Yoshi can interact with the world, the most notable I saw was the unwrapping of knitted blocks thanks to loose ends.
With a tap of the tongue button (usually used to consume things) Yoshi’s tongue can attach itself to loose ends and unravel certain obstacles in his path.
In the same way that Epic Yarn had a slew of ways Kirby could interact with the craft world around him, I imagine the same will be coming Yoshi’s way.
While the game looks absolutely amazing, running in HD at what seemed to be 60fps, it was the small details that really put a smile on my face.
Because the ground is knitted, it doesn’t have the same strength that dirt and grass would have.
As Yoshi walks his way around the world there’s a slight dip in the platforms below his feet due to the weight of the knitted dinosaur.
But there’s no smaller detail than each individual stitch seen across almost every character, tree, platform, egg, and prop.
The world feels physical, and there’s no doubt in my mind that there will be a select crew of knitters that will do their best to reproduce the characters, if not entire scenes, out of love for the style.
There was one thing that didn’t fit the style, and I can’t be sure if what I saw was final or not. Like other Yoshi titles, the little green protagonist can throw eggs to lay waste to his rivals and even parts of the environment itself.
And like previous titles the parts of the environment that can be broken simply break apart like blocks. This wouldn’t be a problem if they hadn’t gone for a knitted style, but to see everything else behave as you would expect it to, it seems weird that the same attention to detail wasn’t given here.
Most of the time you’re breaking some other sort of material, but it’s definitely jarring to see wool just kinda break apart like a block, and let’s be honest, you’ll be too focused on the amazing ways Nintendo have used wool to be bothered with small inconsistencies.
I didn’t get much of a chance to try out the two player co-op, but it seems to work in the same way that New Super Mario Bros did.
You can jump on each others heads to get extra height on jumps, or you can pester your co-op partner by consuming them, turning them into an egg, and just have them follow behind you while you make your way to the end.
I didn’t see any puzzles or platforming sections that required two people, but if it’s anything like New Super Mario Bros there probably won’t be.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is looking to be a stand-out platformer thanks to it’s style and graphical finesse. Only time will tell if the gameplay and difficulty will match.