The Yoshi brand of Nintendo platformer is back, bringing the charm and a new visual overhaul. The colourful dinos have shed their woollen aesthetic for a more homemade arts-and-crafts style – one that looks ripped straight out of a child’s imagination, and brought to life using whatever paper and cardboard has been left lying around the house. This new look adds a whole lot of charm, and feels like a natural evolution of the handcrafted look established with Yoshi’s Woolly World. That said, the game is very much a Yoshi game through and through.
Kamek and Baby Bowser are at it again, this time trying to steal the Sundream Stone. The Yoshis aren’t too impressed with this, and struggle to protect the Sundream Stone. Unfortunately, during this struggle the gems on the stones face break off, scattering all around the world. A race then is put into motion, as the Yoshis try to find all the gems before Kamek and Baby Bowser can get their hands on them. As is typical with the Mario games and its offshoots, the story is little more than a vehicle to get you from level to level, but these games have always been more about the gameplay anyway, and collecting gems seems as good of an excuse as any to get me to stop any form of Bowser.
Speaking of the gameplay, Yoshi’s Crafted World really is as traditional of a Yoshi game as it can get, and is as fun as ever. For the most part, the game is a 2D platformer, having you run from left to right as you make your way to the goal line at the end of the level. Along the way, enemies will stand in your way, as well as pitfalls and some puzzles to conquer. You can use Yoshi’s tongue to lap up enemies and turn them into eggs, then hurl those eggs at whatever you feel like. Not everything you can hit appears on the course itself however, as you can also throw eggs at into the back and foreground of a stage, and will be required to solve certain puzzles or obtain all the collectibles.
As expected, the main collectible in the game is the smiley flower. The amount in each level differs depending on the length of the stage, and can range in difficulty to find. Some are as simple as just seeing a flower as you progress through a level, where some will require you to stretch your puzzle solving know-how to find and collect. A certain number are required to progress through the game, as there is always a handcrafted cardboard person blocking your path, requiring some smiley flowers to cheer them up and allow you to move forward. The amount never felt restricting, and I always found I had plenty of spare flowers.
Another collectible is the red coin, with 20 available to collect across each level. Initially these coins were pretty easy to find, though after about the third world I seemed to always miss one or two. This drove me insane, but also gave me an added incentive to traverse back through the levels to find every little hidden section of a stage I could.
Occasionally, some levels will change up the formula, adding a gimmick that is usually a bit of fun. For example, early on you will gain control of a giant cardboard Yoshi, and you will use its giant fists to punch enemies and objects out of your way as you travel towards the end of the stage. These levels tend to require a certain score, granting you between one and three smiley flowers depending on the score you finished with. There are also flip sides of each course, where you travel through a level in reverse as you try and find three Poochy Pups. These levels are interesting, as you see the seams of each course, though as the background is now the foreground, things tend to get a little hard to see, and felt a little less fun overall.
Throughout each level, you will also find your standard gold coins. Collecting these does serve a purpose, as there are gacha machines in each world you can spend money on to unlock costumes. The costumes themselves are adorable, having Yoshi dress up as a train, cow, milk carton, or anything a child’s imagination could think of. These costumes also serve an in-game purpose, as they act as armour for Yoshi. Each costume has a certain amount of hits it can take before Yoshi takes damage, and the number of hits each costume can take is based on the rarity of the costume itself. This can help you make the game as easy or as difficult as you would like, as wearing a super rare costume will grant you five hits or pitfalls before you get hurt, where as going costume-less will have to taking damage from the get go.
There are two main styles you can play the game in, Classic mode and Mellow mode. In terms of differences, there aren’t many between the two, but Mellow mode does make things a little easier for those who either aren’t too confident with platformers, want a more relaxed experience, or children who need a little help. Basically, Yoshi will take less damage, and he has been given wings. The wings don’t really allow Yoshi to fly around, but it does give his flutter glide some lift, allowing you some extra air if you ever get into trouble. The accessibility also extends to co-op mode, where you can have one Yoshi ride on the others back. This allows the rider to just throw eggs, while the one on bottom does all the platforming and busy-work.
Speaking more on co-op, things tend to get a little hectic. Being able to hop on each others back might be good when playing with a small children, but it makes platforming much more difficult with friends. You can also use Yoshi’s tongue to gobble each other up, which tended to get in the way when trying to gobble up enemies. Overall my co-op experience was one of frustration more than anything.
Another part of the game I felt was lacking was the soundtrack. It feels like it is made in a way that it would feel a child could play it, with some recorder performances and other simple instrumentation. Unfortunately, it is largely forgettable, and sometimes a little grating. The difficulty is another let down here, as no level gets truly challenging. These aspects never tainted my overall experience though.
Yoshi's Crafted World £49.99
Yoshi is back with a pleasant and relaxing adventure. It tends to stay on the easy side, and co-op can be a frustrating endeavour, but for the most part Crafted World is a joy, and just plain fun.