Poochy & Yoshi’s Wooly World is a 3DS port of the Wii U game Yoshi’s Wooly World. While in most cases when a game makes the jump from a home console to a handheld it suffers from loss of levels, gameplay mechanics and graphic downgrades Nintendo has made sure that the portable incarnation of Yarn Yoshi’s adventure is as true to the original as possible.
Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World takes many cues from the 1995 classic Yoshi’s Island, which is one of my personal favourite games of all times, but unlike its predecessor, it’s set in a world made of cloth and wool. Much like Kirby’s Epic Yarn. A platformer at heart, Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World sees the Yoshi embark on an epic adventure to rescue his friends from a stringy incarnation of Kamek who has converted the rest of the Yoshi clan into skeins of wool.
The full game is made up of six uniquely themed worlds, each with 6 levels. While this seems shorter than your average Mario platformer, the game’s play time is relatively similar. Offering roughly ten hours of gameplay for an initial run that extends well beyond this for the completionists out there. Each level offers a number of items to collect to complete the stage 100%.
The control scheme makes it’s way over from the Wii U version, much to my delight. As before I found I had some issues with the default control scheme A. Being a veteran of Yoshi’s Island I opted for control scheme B, which was identical to the retro counterpart. I noticed too that Nintendo has also opted to add in gyroscopic controls to take advantage fo the 3DS’ motion controls. During these moments the 3D feature of the console deactivates to ensure players do not have difficulty in aiming and reactivates once they begin to play again. A neat little feature which, while not for me, I appreciate all the same.
In what feels like a carbon copy of a tried and tested formula, Yoshi maintains a great deal of his move set from the 1995 hit; the world of wool aside, the main difference this time around is that Yoshi converts enemies into balls of wool that he can throw instead of eggs.
Daisies and red coins make a reappearance while the Stars that originally served to top up the timer for when Mario was dismounted have been replaced with hearts. In addition to this, five balls of yarn are secreted away in each stage. Collecting all of these rewards the player with a new Yarn Yoshi design. This is purely a cosmetic change and each Yoshi is identical in regards to stats.
For the more artistic players out there, Nintendo has included an option to design your own Yoshi. Players can free hand colour or work from a number of templates that the game has to offer. A nice touch which I felt helps invest the player in the game even more.
Old enemies also make a return such as Shy Guys, Bow-Wows and Piranha plants. Even some of the old Castle Bosses have been reused which adds to the nostalgia factor. Bashful Burt is defeated in an almost identical fashion, only this time around Yoshi uses his tongue to remove his ill-fitting trousers.
This is a mechanic that I found to work particularly well. Using the idea that the world around Yoshi is made of wool and yarn, the developers have come up with some inventive ways for Yoshi to move through each level making each area seem fresh and inviting. Strands of stray wool sticking out of a wall often indicate a hidden area that Yoshi can access by slurping up the wool like spaghetti.
Story wise there isn’t a lot to go on. It’s your basic Mario plot with the Yoshi clan substituted for Princess Peach. I must stress, however, that I don’t feel that this is necessarily a negative point. The Yoshi series has never really relied on a deep narrative to keeps its players engaged and generally relies on intuitive level design and flawless gameplay. Both of which ring true in my opinion for Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World.
The name of the title would imply that Poochy plays a bigger part in the game than in previous Yoshi games. Unfortunately, this is no the case. Although he can be controlled in special ‘Dog Run’ mini-game where the aim is to collect as many jewels as possible, outside of this he is still resigned to transporting Yoshi over spikes. If however, you opt to play the more casual game mode setting, Yoshi will be followed by three Poochy Pups who help sniff out various hidden items throughout the levels.
While the 3DS is capable of outputting some great looking games we have to face the facts that the Wii U is the more powerful machine. As a result, the visuals in Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World are not quite up to the same standard as the Wii U’s Yoshi’s Woolly World. The 3DS is missing out on subtle details that made the console version, even more, of a joy to play. The felt flooring no longer dips under Yoshi’s weight and the piles of yarn now have that flat, pre-rendered effect. But realistically that’s to be expected. With this in mind, the game is still nice and vibrant and a pleasure to play. A slight drop in graphical output is not something I would mark it down for, especially when the gameplay is so solid.
In conclusion, Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World is a fantastic platformer and a great addition to anyone’s 3DS collection. It’s as close to perfection as you can get for a Yoshi series game, but I would have liked to have seen a little more effort with the narrative. It offers a decent amount of gameplay with plenty of replayability; be that through collecting each item through all of the levels or just because the levels are undeniably charming and will pull you back in each time. It feels like a proper follow-up to Yoshi’s Island without a single baby in sight and will inevitably have fans of the Yoshi series enthralled. If you’ve not yet tried it, I highly recommend it.