Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World
The adorable and yarn-filled adventure of Yoshi’s Wooly World has come to the 3DS with some additional features and new levels to enjoy. Is the cutesie platformer worth your time? Come inside to check out my full review!
Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World, at its core, is a 3DS port of the Wii U Yoshi's Woolly World game with a few tweaks and additions here and there to add some play time. An evil wizard has kidnapped Yoshis in order to steal their yarn for nefarious purposes, and you're job is to track him through various levels to rescue your brethren by collecting their yarn in order to reassemble them. So yeah, it sounds like your typical Mario themed platformer. You'll run around levels, jumping and avoiding obstacles, all while gobbling up enemies to turn them into balls of yarn which can then be thrown to solve puzzles and ultimately make your way to the finish line.
The platformer is comprised of 6 Worlds with eight levels each (nine if you include the bonus level you need to unlock). The levels and general mechanics are the same as they were on the Wii U version of the game. Each level brings about much of the same platforming tropes, but then levels come along with some unique and engaging aspects; which is both good and bad. The good comes from getting something new throughout each world that changes things up adds something fresh to the gameplay. The bad is that these additions aren't frequent enough.
Some levels introduce stages where your Yoshi morphs into different yarn entities (a mermaid and umbrella just to name a couple)which completely change the way you have to play. These sequences are placed within regular levels, serving as a fun surprise throughout normal play. While these are fun the fact that you as the player have no control over these transformations, or even which level to play around with them, saps some of the fun. Not to mention the fact that these aspects are typically one and done mechanics that don't come back in later levels.
In general, this is Woolly World's biggest problem: unique ideas that are never seen again. Some levels will throw other new mechanics at you, like having to ride a series of curtains throughout the level (with no control), using bubbles of varying size to bounce around, and disappearing ghost platforms. My favorite was the Fluffin' Puffin level, where instead of using balls of yarn, you have to throw little birds about to create cloud trails you can walk on.
These levels were tons of fun and showed the creativity we know Nintendo is capable of. Sadly, they're spread out amongst generic platforming levels that offer little challenge and are fairly bland. When Woolly World tries, it brings about some of the coolest 2D platforming levels you can find on a handheld, but the game rarely puts the focus on these levels.
The Poochy Factor
At this point, you're probably wondering, "But Jordan, you haven't said anything about Poochy!" There's a reason for that...Despite sharing the title this time around, the cute and cuddly dog has precious little to do in the game. He pops up in sparingly in a couple levels to help you out, but the only option to get the Poochiest experience in your game isn't the most fun either. You can choose to have Poochy along with you for every level of the game (though oddly he appears as not one, but three tiny dogs trailing you), but the caveat is this knocks the game automatically into "Mellow Mode".
This version of the game is the ultra easy mode, giving Yoshi wings to fly about through every level, making it virtually impossible to die by falling. Enemies, for the most part, are easy enough to avoid/eliminate, so Mellow Mode takes just about all the challenge out of levels.
Ostensibly this mode, and Poochy in general, is there to help you snag all of the collectibles strewn throughout levels. In some ways, Woolly World feels almost entirely about collecting things. Gems, daisies, yarn, and even health are up for grabs teasing players and offering rewards (bonus levels in each world) for finding them all. While this offers up a different layer of challenge for completionists to come back to, some of these are hidden to a frustrating degree.
I mean, some are straight up INVISIBLE unless you accidentally bump into them. A good half of the collectibles I found in the game were as much a product of luck as they were skill. This is where Poochy really helps out, as he'll sniff out all the goodies you miss along the way. Hell, sometimes he even grabs them for you!
There are some Poochy centric stages in the game that exist outside of the primary campaign. These are set up like endless running stages, as Poochy runs automatically and you have to time jumps in order to snag gems and avoid obstacles. You unlock new stages by playing through the primary game, but honestly, the Poochy stages didn't offer much for me to come back to very often. As such, Poochy feels like a severely underused element in the game, which does nothing to change up the primary levels in a significant way.
It sounds like I'm coming off kind of harsh on Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World, but that's only because it could have been a pretty amazing platformer. It has all the right elements, and levels sprinkled throughout the game show flashes of brilliance. The problem is that wasn't the norm throughout.
Even so, there's plenty of fun to be had, and even at its worst moments, Woolly World features solid platforming with excellent mechanics that never give you trouble. It's smooth gameplay is so effective, you don't even think about how well it plays out (hence the focus I've put on the negative factors). Coming in at roughly 10-12 hours of playtime, Woolly World offers plenty to keep you playing on your handheld. It's format makes it easy to pick up and play for short bursts (ideal for your 3DS), while also providing enough enjoyment for longer play sessions.
Make no mistake, I think Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World is a "good" game and I've spent plenty of time playing through it and even going back to snag collectible items I missed. My issue is that it could have been a "great" game, but it never lived up to the potential you see throughout.
An Excellent Port of an OK Game
If you’re in need of something fun and quick to play on your 3DS, Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World is a good option. The platforming is fun with good mechanics, even though it never strives to be much more than that.
The new additions brought to the game from the Wii U version are nice, but don’t change the core of the game enough to make it seem all that different. That said, it’s a wonderful port of the original Yoshi’s Woolly World, I just wish they’d done a little more to expand on the campaign itself.