Developer: Good Feel
Release Date: February 3, 2017
ESRB: E for Everyone
Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World is the latest in a string of games that have been ported down from Wii U to 3DS by Nintendo over the last few years. It began with Hyrule Warriors (which gained a "Legends" suffix for the handheld port), then Super Mario Maker (which gained a "3DS" suffix), and now we've come down to Yoshi's Woolly World, which has gained a prefix this time around with the addition of 'Poochy' to the title.
Developer Good Feel has also added a number of new additions and modes this time around, keeping this from being merely a direct port, but is it enough to convince fans of the Wii U version to double dip?
Despite the addition of the yarn pooch's name to the title, this still remains Yoshi's game though it does emphasize Poochy's increased appearance through several new and exclusive modes. The most notable of these is Poochy Dash, in which you race through auto-runner stages as the yarn pooch, collecting yarn beads and Poochy Pups along the way. They offer a nice break from the normal Yoshi levels and even offer a few objectives to clear in each level, but they're over fairly quickly.
Also new to this version is Mellow Mode, which essentially makes the game as painless as possible by giving Yoshi an infinite hover jump and three Poochy Pups that can be tossed instead of eggs (and will always return to you) as well as sniff out secrets and assist in subduing certain enemies. Additionally, there's a mode that allows you to knit a whole new look for Yoshi that gives the game a nice, extra bit of customization, as well as Yoshi Theater, which houses 31 short, stop-motion videos that feature Yarn Yoshi and Poochy in real-world environments doing, uh... cute things and being generally adorable. They unlock one day at a time, however, which can get a little frustrating if you want to see all of them.
Good Feel even made some optimizations to the game's overworld, which is now laid out in a traditional side-scrolling view (a la classic Yoshi's Island) instead of using the Wii U version's sprawling, open, birds-eye-view mode to navigate to each area. You can also use the new Poochy amiibo to bring Poochy into stages alongside Yoshi for extra assistance, which is a neat new wrinkle to the game.
Of course, the original game still remains as charming and fun as ever. However, the visuals do take a hit on the smaller screen, with all of the sharp detail of the Wii U version gone and looking a bit more muddy on the 3DS. The scenery and backgrounds in each level are still discernible as yarn creations, but the detail and threads on Yoshi are a lot less noticeable here; it looks more like Yoshi has low resolution yarn pattern laid out on his low-poly model. That said, it's impressive that Good Feel were able to make it look as good as they did on a less powerful device, and those that never played the original game won't notice the difference anyhow.
If you haven't played the original Yoshi's Woolly World, the experience is largely modeled after the gameplay of previous Yoshi's Island games in which you run, jump and solve minor platforming puzzles throughout side-scrolling levels. Woolly World's additional spin on the experience, in which the entire world and its characters are all made out of yarn, means that you can manipulate levels' terrain in various ways, such as tugging on a string that's been tied into a bow on a wall to unravel the entire area and reveal secrets within. Instead of eggs, Yoshi acquires balls of yarn that he can throw at enemies and create platforms out of. Certain areas might look a little bent out of shape, meaning you can push against and bunch up the wall so that you can see what's hiding behind it.
It all amounts to the most creative Yoshi game since the original Yoshi's Island, and though not every single level is memorable, each one does attempt a new gameplay idea that keeps the game feeling fresh all along. Additionally, there are a ton of collectibles in each level to discover and to go back to if you missed them the first time around, and there's even impetus of additional content you can play if you collect it all.
Also, did I mention the music is insanely good in this game? There's a wide variety of different musical styles employed here, from guitar and piano melodies to more jazzy and experimental synth songs; it's one of the most varied and experimental soundtracks I've heard from a Nintendo game in a while and it's incredibly catchy to boot.
So is Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World worth your time? If you've never played the original, I'd say absolutely, though I still think the original is the best way to experience it thanks to its enhanced visuals. But if you have played the Wii U version, it largely depends on whether the new material matters to you. None of it is particularly makes this a more engaging version, but Yoshi die-hards will appreciate and lap up all of the new content (especially the stuff featuring Poochy).
At the end of the day, Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World is yet another great way to play what is easily one of the best new classic games released in recent years. If you've not played the original and prefer to play it on the go, it's not to be missed.
+ Great, inspired game design that is tied to its visual style
+ Amazing soundtrack
+ Solid amount of content to play through, plus extra content that is unlocked after seeking out collectibles
- While the visuals are still impressive for what the 3DS can do, they're scaled down quite a bit here and yarn details are a lot more blurry here
- Your mileage may vary when it comes to whether you find the new Poochy content worth buying this version specifically for
Overall Score: 8 (out of 10)
Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World is a solid port of a great game that shouldn't be missed, though its visuals suffer a downgrade in the process, and the added content doesn't quite merit a purchase if you're buying it for that alone.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher