Yoshi has finally made his way from the Wii U to the 3DS, in the first proper title in almost 20 years to see the plucky dino free of the free-riding Mario clan. And, seemingly insistent in making it clear he is not the bottom rung of the Mario universe, this time he’s brought a friend. But perhaps as testament to Yoshi’s low self-esteem, after years of plumber-induced emotional scars from being abandoned in lands unknown no doubt, it’s taken him more than a year and a half to get here, and has even given over top billing in Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World.
“But in going down this path you may find yourself asking a valid question. “Where’s Poochy?””
Hearing the title you’d be forgiven in thinking this was a sequel to the 2015 Wii U hit Yoshi’s Woolly World, which saw Yoshi, under flimsy premise get transformed into yarn and proceed to rescue his friends from their bundled doom. Despite lack of established premise, which I actually love, the game proved to be a visual delight and refreshed classic Yoshi mechanics and lands with a whimsical twist, as Luke attested in his review on release.
In fact, Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World is almost a completely 1 :1 port of the Wii U title, something that in most cases would draw my ire after so long and be the jumping off point for a rant… but with Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World, it’s exactly what Dr. Mario ordered.
There is no doubt that the graphics take a hit in moving to the portable system, but the clever use of the bold and rough yarn textures not only appeals to young gamers and those of us with an eye for kitsch, it also translates brilliantly to the smaller, lower-res screen.
Left guessing only when you are supposed to, the variations in textures throughout the knitted worlds shows through beautifully in both 3D, helping to recreate the depth of the Wii U aesthetic, as well as 2D, which is often a must when gaming on the go. While players on the new 3DS will be playing as Yoshi in 60 frames per second, as well as native support of the well-used amiibo connectivity, having reviewed the title on an original 3DS at 30 frames, and without the bundled amiibo, I didn’t find either of these factors detracted from the core game experience.
I’m not a huge fan of game soundtracks. Sure, they can help immerse you into a game world or help set your tempo, but usually after long I’ll reduce music volume by half, if not turn it off completely in favour of other media. Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World had me turning the volume up and leaving it there for much of my game time; and I’m not even sure why. Again, like the original Yoshi’s Woolly World, the soundtrack comprises of classic Yoshi themes in acoustic (at least, acoustic-sounding) renditions. Airy flutes and reworking of classic MIDI tunes is certainly no new concept for Nintendo titles, but it does pair beautifully with the warm and fuzzy art style. Then again, maybe that’s nostalgia talking; the reminiscence of a properly engaging Yoshi title taking me back to recorder lessons in primary school.
While I don’t think anyone would try to claim there is value for money here for those who already own the title on Wii U, for experienced gamers picking up Poochie and Yoshi’s Woolly World for the first time, or those die-hard fans looking to experience the game again portably, the lack of level time limits or a lives pool, sending you back to the start of each world on final death, may see this experiential platformer appear too simplistic to be a worthy challenge.
But, when setting yourself the task of collecting even one or two of the four collectable sets scattered throughout each world before completing each level, the attention and skill required soon becomes a genuine challenge. But in going down this path you may find yourself asking a valid question. “Where’s Poochy?”
Except for the occasional Poochy focused level, which presumably replaces some of the co-op levels from the original, a time-trial run mode that I could frankly do without, and its ‘gold rush’ mode unlocked by collecting sunflowers, the canine companion is basically unseen. Poochy’s addition can primarily be found only in ‘mellow mode’ where he and his ‘Poochie pups’ will sniff out collectibles and secrets for you, also replacing the need to collect yarn balls, while you float around on provided wings. For a game that I thoroughly enjoy but would be at stretch to call particularly challenging, I’m gonna go ahead and call that cheating for anyone above the age of 12. Particularly when, with gems collected throughout the levels, players can purchase badges they unlock to assist with more taxing moments.
Yoshi at his finest
Despite the lack of meaningful additional content (the stop motion videos and Yoshi design creator both nice but peripheral additions) Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World is the platformer the 3DS was crying out for. Having reviewed a range of platform and Wii U ports to the 3DS, most fall short if not fail to deliver at all. Although timing of this release was clearly calculated rather than required, dropping a mere month and a half before the release of the Switch, my only true complaint in reviewing Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World was that it clearly could have been out sooner, and not having time to pace my gameplay in order to extend the experience.