Daan tried the portable version of Woolly World and left slightly more impressed than he thought.
Yoshi's Woolly World was one of favorite Wii U games, period. As a platformer, it hit the cuteness center of my brain and left me with warm, fuzzy feelings. It was the golden combination of visuals, gameplay and controls. While finding secrets was a big hassle, it didn't take away from the overall great time I had with it. Now in 2017, one of Yoshi's best adventures is coming to the Nintendo 3DS. Does it hold up? Surprisingly enough, it does more than I was expecting it to. But I’m still conflicted about diving in if you already did on Wii U.
The biggest takeaway from Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World is that all the content is there. The original had a vast amount of levels to get through, which you can experience in the Nintendo 3DS release. You still move Yoshi about a 2D platforming landscape, deal with a variety of obstacles and enemies and try to snatch a large number of collectibles throughout. For those who played the original, or played a Yoshi game in the past, you will immediately feel at home with how the game operates. The previous Yoshi games had a large emphasis on throwing eggs, and with the yarn balls that doesn't change. You will need to attack enemies, destroy question bubbles and even use them for some brand new tricks like creating platforms.
While this is old hat from anyone who played the Wii U version, there is a crucial difference between the two versions. The original let you use a Wii Remote in the sideways position, which allowed you to tilt the controller for more precision. Naturally, you can't use this type of controller on your portable. They managed to find a way that duplicates that same sense of freedom on the handheld, instead. You can now tilt the system to accurately throw your eggs, while performing other moves with the buttons. The possibility to flutter jump while you aim and press the R-button is good, and creates a solid flow. You can opt out of this by simply using the buttons, which makes it more play like a traditional Yoshi game. The solution they have come up with isn't ideal, but after a level or three it becomes second nature.
The stages themselves haven't changed all that much. The world map screens are now sidescrolling, which makes you instantly move from level to level. Outside of that though, you will remember every secret if you played the Wii U game initially. You shouldn't expect any remixed content or massive changes to compliment the lower resolution display of the Nintendo 3DS. In all honesty though, I wasn't bothered by it all that much. The stages may feel a bit too long for the handheld, but everything about it is still charming. You will pull on bows in the environments, hang tight to curtains, transforms into adorable forms and so much more. The 50+ stages offer so much variety that I couldn't help, but play through the entirety of the game again.
What helps is that Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World is very elegantly designed, and there is a nice progression curve. Over the course of the six worlds, the skills ramp up nicely and it all leads to a very satisfying finale. I am not embarrassed to say that I died quite a bunch of times throughout the journey, mostly due to being unprepared for what is ahead. You're not going through the motions like in Yoshi's New Island, but performing them with grace for the best possible results. That made the game never lose its charm, even if I felt challenged at times. What will lessen the frustration is that there are frequent checkpoints, so you will never go too far back.
This leads immediately to some of the changes made in this handheld release. The developers at Good-Feel saw fit to revamp elements of the Mellow Mode feature. In the previous version, you would receive wings and fly over potential pits in the process. That didn't stop certain levels from being challenging, because the platforming and egg throwing is still done manually. It was simply there to relieve some stress and let you focus on the specifics of the platforming. This time, however, Mellow Mode offers a more guided experience. Alongside the wings of the Wii U entry, you are helped by the Poochy Pups. These adorable critters will automatically run towards harsh enemies or secrets, so that you can deal with them effectively. This will allow players to find to more hidden trinkets within the levels and fully finish levels at a quicker rate. While I don't see any personal use for it, I can understand why people would like that option available to them.
Talking about the collectibles, there has been a slight change in that department as well. Let's start with the Smiley Flowers. It is still true that you unlock a level if you find every single one in a world, but what kind of challenge do you get after finishing a level with the flowers? This is where Poochy comes into the picture. He plays a starring role in the brand new Poochy Dash, which sees Yoshi's best friend running automatically to a goal. It is up to you to collect beads, jump off enemies in quick succession, pop a bunch of balloons and collect the Poochy pups that are scattered around. While these levels can be played freely without the Smiley Flowers, a new option becomes available when you succeed there. This new Gold Rush chance allows to snatch even more beads which can be turned in for the usual array of Power Badges. Naturally, those same beads can still be found anywhere in the courses. In all honesty though, I found the Poochy stages disappointing. They were over before you knew it and there weren't too many of them as far as I noticed. There are apparently more to unlock with the Poochy amiibo, so I will need to revisit this at a later date.
While the roles of the beads and Wonder Wools haven't changed, the other major difference can be found with the Stamp Patches. Those have been replaced by Pencil Stamps, which grant you access to crafting materials that can benefit the creation of your own Yoshi. Yes, you heard that right. The new Craft Yoshi feature allows you to create your very own Yoshi patterns and use them to your heart's content. The crafting materials you collect can be used in easy mode to make the dinosaur of your dreams quickly. The game changer is the professional mode, which allows you to edit and change every aspect of a Yoshi design. You can select body parts, draw your own lines and make something absolutely unique to your game. The tools are straightforward to use, which makes it more fun to toy around with the feature. Sadly, you can't save your favorites to a QR code or something similar as only a StreetPass function is available. Speaking of Wonder Wools, there is still a colorful Yoshi design to unlock in every stage. Next to that, more amiibo than ever before are supported, so you can scan in your Animal Crossing figurines for that sweet Isabelle costume action.
The final new element is the inclusion of 31 Poochy and Yoshi short videos. They depict the every day lives of the pair as they play, interact and go about their day. The videos don’t last long, but end with a trivia question that will earn you beads. Now I would love to say that they are amazing, but they’re inconsistent. Some are solid fun, while others leave a lot to be desired. As they unlock every 24 hours, I don't exactly feel that they are a great reward for visiting the game every day. You can constantly skip the clock a day and unlock them, but that isn't worth the hassle. What doesn't help matters is that these shorts aren't even in 3D, which would have made it a lot better.
Speaking of the performance of Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World, I can say that I am rather impressed. Sure, I wouldn't say that the game can compare to the Wii U release, but it surely stands on its own. The backgrounds are more blurred and stilted, but overall I certainly like what I see. There is still a strong usage of color and you can still identify all the important items quickly. The asterisk that I would put on the experience is that I played the game on a New Nintendo 3DS. The game will run at 30fps if you play it on an older model 3DS. It runs in a silky smooth 60fps on the updated handheld, which will entice people who own one. The music remains incredible. There are certainly Yoshi touches in there, but it features more piano strokes and deeper sound bits. Nothing wrong with that I say!
Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World can be recommended for those who haven't played the Wii U game. All of the content is available, but there is nothing substantial added if you already played it. That being said, it played a lot better than I thought it would. As you can tilt the system, there is a freedom there that is unprecedented compared to other Yoshi games. Sure, it looks less impressive on that small handheld screen, but owners of a New Nintendo 3DS have nothing to worry about. The portable version also has the added benefit of more help with collectibles, some Yoshi animations and the ability to design your own dinosaur. It is nothing that Wii U owners need, but for everybody else, Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World can still be enjoyed.