Yoshi’s Crafted World is a purposefully-slow paced platformer, with Yoshi himself responding much more slowly to your inputs than Mario ever would. It’s still not as trivially easy as a Kirby game but it is clearly aimed at less experienced gamers, including the option for a ‘mellow’ mode that gives you almost infinite flutter jump power. You’re more likely to get stuck with some of the puzzles though, which while still very simple do require at least a little lateral thinking.
In each stage all you’re really trying to do is get to the end, although each area on the map requires a certain number of flowers to be collected before you can pass through. We almost always had enough on hand though, simply by playing the game normally, and rarely had to go back for more. That’s good one in sense but it does mean that we kept forgetting about what we originally thought was one of the game’s main gimmicks: the ability for the level to flip round 180° so you can see it from the other side.
This was the first thing Nintendo showed off during previews, but they never really explained what the context was and now it seems obvious that there never really was one – they just thought it was a neat trick. And it is, visually, as you see the landscape from the back and realise it’s all made out of things like old packets of biscuits, while other previously unseen objects loom in what is now the background.
But despite what we imagined you can’t flip the level while you’re playing, it’s just a separate option from the main map. And other than walking back the way you came the only gameplay difference is that you’re now trying to find three poochy dogs as you go, that are hiding in the background.
At this point it probably seems like we didn’t enjoy the game all that much but that’s not the case at all. We were frustrated at the lack of innovation, and the inevitable reuse of ideas and set pieces from previous games, but there’s also a lot of more imaginative moments too. It doesn’t keep to the Nintendo dream of a new idea every level but spitting out magnets to use as moveable platforms, and using bombs to clear out cave blockages, so you can push a minecart through them, is all good fun.
The shy guys that serve as your primary foe (and ammunition) are often themed to a particular levels, and there are some particularly good ones based around ninjas, pirates, and a haunted house. The best levels though are right at the end, including a clever stealth stage and what is basically a mini-survival horror game, complete with murderous-looking axemen (made out of wool) that are afraid of the light. We just wish there was more of these sort of levels and less of the recycling of the same old ideas.
There’s still enough to keep your interest when playing on your own, but where Yoshi’s Crafted World really comes alive is in its two-player co-op mode. Following the recent decline of the Lego titles it’s great to enjoy a proper game that two people of any experience can play together, whether it’s parent and child or hardcore and casual gamer.
In that, and many other ways, Yoshi’s Crafted World is a success, but it still feels like it’s coasting along, never really bothering to push itself or its concept as far as it can go. That’s resulted in a game that’s very entertaining but one where more imagination seems to have gone into creating the backgrounds than most of the gameplay.
Yoshi’s Crafted World
In Short: Another highly competent Yoshi platformer that looks great and plays well, especially in co-op, but there’s a disappointing lack of innovation beyond the charming visuals.
Pros: The platforming mechanics are fun and the handicraft motif looks great. Great co-op and some clever puzzles and themed stages.
Cons: Few genuinely new gameplay ideas and the whole flip side concept is used to little purpose. Too much reuse of old enemies and set pieces.
Formats: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 29th March 2019
Age Rating: 3
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