Say what you will about Nintendo, but it’s hard to deny that they’ve got a lock on the handheld gaming market. After the demise…well, near-demise of the PlayStation Vita, you don’t have much of a choice but to go to the 3DS for your handheld console fix. One would think that the rise of mobile games would have been a death knell for the clamshelled wonder, but Nintendo has instead hopped aboard the mobile train while continuing to keep the 3DS chugging along.
We’ve got another solid release for the pint-sized 3D powerhouse, actually, in the form of Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World, a port of the Wii U title of the same name – plus Poochy!
If you’ve played the Wii U version of Yoshi’s Woolly World, you’ve got an idea of what’s in this package. If you haven’t, well: Yoshi’s made of yarn! So are all of his fellow Yoshis and so is the world they live in. Everything might be soft, but it doesn’t mean that life is sunshine and roses, since the evil Kamek has turned all but one of the Yoshis into yarn and ran off. The remaining dinosaur needs to get out there, find the lost yarn, knit his buddies back together and show Kamek what for.
This plays out much like the original Yoshi’s Island. Yoshi can eat enemies, turning them into eggs…well, yarn balls in this case, which he can then throw to trigger level elements or defeat enemies. Yarn balls will bounce off the level geometry, so trick shots are possible and encouraged in later levels. You’ve also got a ground pound, a flutter jump and so on. The available moveset isn’t extensive, but it’s used in creative and interesting ways that are sure to keep your attention, like using Yoshi’s tongue to unravel parts of a stage to reveal new paths and secrets. Searching for yarn, beads, flowers and hearts is central to the game, and while you could get through the game with few issues if you just ran to the end of each level, you’d be missing out on the larger part of the experience.
That’s not to say that jumping, throwing yarn and fluttering is all you’ll do, of course. Some levels feature short segments where Yoshi transforms into other objects like an umbrella. These are a nice way to shake up the gameplay, ensuring that Wooly World continues to feel fresh. New to the 3DS release are bonus areas where you control Poochy, perhaps the only creature more adorable than Yoshi, as he runs around and picks up beads to add to your bead hoard.
Other than Poochy and a couple other minor additions, this is largely the same game we saw on Wii U. That includes level design, gameplay and even things like Amiibo support. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since this was a solid game there as well and it’s been ported with few obvious concessions. Everything’s incredibly cute, the game runs at a steady clip and the bite-sized levels lend themselves well to a portable experience.
The bottom line is this: as ports go, Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World is one of the better examples I’ve played. It’s a game that was well-suited for this platform from the start, brought over without giving up too much of its soul in the process. Yoshi’s Woolly World was already a worthwhile successor to the classic Yoshi’s Island, and being able to take it on the go makes it even better – even if the new platform doesn’t bring a lot of changes.