E3 2015: Yoshi’s Woolly World is a Dash of Mellow, a Dash of amiibo Madness

There’s something magical about watching a Yoshi made of yarn hop and skip its way through a knitted world. Yarn balls dot the landscape like bales of hay, flowers made of buttons poke up out of the felt ground, and the sky is draped fabric, folds and all. It’s Yoshi’s Wooly World‘s most defining feature, but of course, Kirby’s Epic Yarn pulled the same visual trick years ago. Yoshi’s Woolly World isn’t just hanging on by a thread though; it’s looking to make a friendly, addictive experience you can really get tangled in.

Woolly World has a familiar gameplay style if you’ve played any previous game starring the little dinosaur: it can aim and shoot eggs, it can eat enemies, it can flutter jump to float in the air. But while those previous games felt a little too unconventional for their own good, Woolly World seems a little closer to what players accustomed to Mario games might expect. The platforms feel a little more horizontally laid out and the camera isn’t zoomed in as closely, leading to an experience that’s visually coherent and comfortable.

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“Comfortable” is exactly what Nintendo is aiming for with Woolly World. It’s a friendly experience through and through. Yes, there’s real challenge to be had—if you’re into obsessively hunting down every collectible, this game will absolutely scratch that itch—but if you’re just looking to have a fun, relaxing time, Woolly World is more than happy to deliver. There’s no time limit on stages, so feel free to spend as much time as you want traipsing through the button-flowers or pulling on loose threads to reveal cute little yarn butterflies or “smile flowers.” You can even activate “Mellow Mode” for an even easier experience that, for instance, grants an infinite flutter jump. Still, if you’re interested in maniacally picking up each and every collectible in your path, Nintendo wants to assure you that Yoshi’s Wooly World will offer plenty for you as well: power badges, stamp patches, and more.

Woolly World will feature cooperative play for up to two players, and retaining the game’s hakuna matata mantra, Nintendo stresses that it’s totally fine if there’s a skill gap between players. Since you’re playing as Yoshi, you can “swallow or gobble up your buddy,” said Nintendo’s Ali Rapp, then simply carry him or her through a difficult part of the level. Anyone who’s ever played a cooperative Nintendo game with friends knows that that experience is basically a fairly tale, though, which Rapp recognizes: “You can also throw them off of ledges if you’re so inclined.” That’s more like it.

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Now, the elephant in the room whenever any Nintendo game in development is shown off these days is amiibo support. Many games in Nintendo’s portfolio haven’t supported the company’s toys-to-life initiative in a way to justify the platform, but Yoshi’s Woolly World has a surprisingly cool implementation: tap an amiibo in and the pattern on your Yoshi will suddenly morph into a style resembling that character. In the demo Nintendo showed off, a Donkey Kong amiibo gave Yoshi a classic red tie and a brownish color. If you try to break our known universe with a paradox by tapping the new yarn Yoshi amiibo, well, you won’t doom us all, but you will unlock something arguably way better: double Yoshi. You’ll get a second, AI-controlled Yoshi as a co-op buddy who will mirror your movement exactly.

None of the amiibo support is life-changing or anything, but it’s a simple and fun implementation to reward those invested in Nintendo’s collectible little figures; those who haven’t invested (let’s call them “sane people”) will still be able to swap out Yoshi’s look, but it’ll involve hunting down those collectibles first.

If you were really into Kirby’s Epic YarnYoshi’s Woolly World is looking like a pretty safe must-buy. If you’re not super into the concept or just not a fan of Yoshi games, though, you might appreciate this one more aesthetically than mechanically. Either way, Yoshi’s Wooly World is coming out this October for Wii U, so keep an eye out.