A faithful Wii U port with some extra padding for the 3DS.
By Daniel Krupa
When I reviewed Yoshi’s Woolly World on Wii U on June 22, 2015, I gave it a 7.4, which is the mark of a good game. Here’s what I said then:
There’s a handful of really great levels in Yoshi’s Woolly World, which makes the most of its setting and choice of character. The world is exactly what I expected, thematically and in terms of structure: sand, snow, clouds, and fire, punctuated by bosses holed-up in themed fortresses. It’s incredibly familiar, but the imaginative and attractive art style makes it feel fresh and appealing. Outside of those great few levels, Woolly World is a more forgettable and fragmented experience. Cool mechanics are cooked up, but they’re dropped into levels which never realise their full potential and fixate more on unearthing frustrating collectibles.
Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World for 3DS contains all of the same content as the original but also a few significant additions that make it more than just a straight-up port. The most obvious addition is Poochy, Yoshi’s devoted canine companion, who is adorable and handy to have around but almost criminally underused.
The entire 10-12 hour game can be played either in its original form or with Poochy in tow, but bringing him along shifts the challenge down into ‘Mellow Mode’. This downturn in difficulty comes partly from Yoshi sprouting wings – making dying from a fall or missing a jump almost impossible – and a wider range of tweaks introduced by Poochy, who in the story mode actually appears as three tiny dogs that follow Yoshi wherever he goes. It’s a mode likely aimed at children and extremely casual players, which makes it a disappointment for anybody who was hoping Poochy’s addition would refresh the campaign and make it feel worth playing through a second time.
The balls of yarn Yoshi creates by swallowing enemies and uses as projectiles are replaced by Poochies, which can be lobbed through levels in exactly the same way. While the original was never big on resource management, it was always advisable to carry a constant supply of yarn balls to nab every out-of-reach collectible and deal with every enemy.
Poochy also helps with one of the more frustrating aspects of the original. There’s an insane amount of things to collect in Wooly World, including gems, yarn balls, and daisies. While I usually enjoy collectibles that encourage exploration and reward accordingly, in the original some were just plain invisible until Yoshi accidentally bumped into them. Some of this frustration is alleviated by Poochy, who has a good nose for such trinkets. You’ll often see one of the puppies tear off, tugging at a piece of fabric or yapping skyward, because he’s uncovered a stash. As hint systems go, it’s probably one of the best and cutest I’ve ever used. It feels like a good solution to a problem that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.
Furthermore, Poochy will even take care of nastier enemies entirely by himself. While running through one level, Poochy steamed ahead and lassoed a large piranha plant entirely without instruction – precocious little chap. That’s fine, and contributes to the less demanding experience covered by the ‘Mellow Mode’ description, but as someone who’s played this game before it’s a shame that Poochy’s main gameplay contribution comes within this much less demanding difficulty mode.
Outside of the campaign, there are Poochy-centric stages where the bouncy mutt runs (automatically) through a short level. It’s the only opportunity you get to directly control him, but outside of a high score to smash and a couple of simple side-objectives (which also involve collecting stuff, unsurprisingly) there’s disappointingly little to do with this charismatic new character. There are also 31 adorable and well-made stop-frame animation shorts that unlock every day for 31 days, and Poochy is given a wonderful sense of personality unsurprisingly not afforded by his appearance as a doting projectile in the campaign.
Overall this is an excellent port, with most of the gameplay feeling intact, but the charming arts-and-crafts aesthetic of the original sadly suffers in the transition to 3DS. The richly textured environments of the Wii U version have become much smoother, plainer, and less characterful on Nintendo’s handheld. Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World ends up looking not very different to a lot of the other platforming worlds you can find on the 3DS.