A few years ago, Kirby’s Epic Yarn took us all by surprise. It completely changed the Kirby formula, taking away his ability to float and inhale things and instead allowing him to unweave his patchwork enemies with a stringy tentacle. It was a game of a different type, focusing on aesthetics over challenge. You couldn’t even die! The whole point of the game was to collect gems and discover the wonders of a world made of yarn. You’d unravel background imagery, crawl underneath the blanket that was the stage backdrop, and roll up enemies into balls of yarn to throw them at other enemies. It was a blast. Unfortunately, it was short lived. Only a short while after the game came out, Nintendo announced Kirby’s Return to Dreamland , a more traditional Kirby game for the Wii.
But then something weird happened. This year at E3 2014, Nintendo announced another game in the “ Epic Yarn ” franchise, but it wasn’t a Kirby game. Rather it was a Yoshi game. Yoshi’s Woolly World has more in common with Yoshi’s Island than any other Nintendo game in the past. Yet it still has the Epic Yarn feel to it. You are still collecting gems, still traversing worlds made of yarn and fabric, and still trading overall challenge for pleasing aesthetics.
For those of you who haven’t played Yoshi’s Island before, the controls are simple. Yoshi can run, jump, flutter jump, ground pound, and eat things. When you catch an enemy with Yoshi’s tongue, Yoshi can either swallow the enemy and turn it into an egg, which he can then later throw, or spit it out as an attack.
The same mechanics persist in Yoshi’s Woolly World , with a couple alterations. First of all, Yoshi’s tongue unravels enemies, just like Kirby’s tentacle did. Depending on how much Yoshi unravels, Yoshi’s yarnball eggs will be bigger or smaller. Bigger eggs, of course, do more damage, and have different physics when bouncing off walls. They are also used to solve puzzles at points. For example, you can throw yarn balls at invisible platforms to weave them into existence. Note, that Yoshi does not have to eat an enemy to get yarn balls. He can also just find them in the field.
Second of all, the material that the yarn balls are made of will make a difference. At one point in the E3 2014 trailer, we can see Yoshi throwing balls of cotton fluff instead of yarn. When throwing these balls, trails of puffy cotton follow behind them, allowing Yoshi to create new platforms.
The game supports two player co-op as well. Much like you could with Kirby’s Epic Yarn , you can eat your friend and throw him as a projectile here. Since thrown players have the same physics as thrown yarn balls, you can use this to solve puzzles and get past platforming segments.
The main items that Yoshi will be collecting over the course of his journey are gems, same as Kirby’s Epic Yarn . However, it appears as if the progress bar has completely disappeared. Instead, you simply have a more traditional counter, like the coin counter in a Mario game. It’s not quite clear what these gems do, but they do appear to be scattered everywhere. Even the traditional Yoshi’s Island end-of-stage ring has been converted into shiny gems.
Another interesting thing to note is that, unlike Kirby’s Epic Yarn , there actually does appear to be health in this game. Yoshi appears to have a ring of wool hearts around him which you can see as soon as the stage starts. However, this ring of hearts disappears shortly thereafter. Perhaps your life is only shown when you are getting hit. This might be a frustrating U.I. element depending on how it works. I certainly don’t want to forget if I am one hit away from death.
Overall it looks like an interesting game. It’s not all that different from other Yoshi games we have played in the past, unlike the major departure from formula that Kirby’s Epic Yarn was. It’s sure to make Yoshi fans very, very happy, as well as introduce a new generation of gamers to everyone’s favorite hungry dinosaur.