From the cardboard-cutout clouds to the toilet roll trees, everything you see in Yoshi’s Crafted World is made from household objects. These combine to create many beautifully constructed levels, each rocking their own distinct theme, that are so cute you can’t help but grin.
During my hands-on event, I ventured through underwater worlds where paper-crafted fish dangled in the air via pieces of strings and mine cart caverns where I needed to gobble up and spit out explosives to destroy tin-foil rubble. Each stage also has its own signature game mechanic or obstacle, with Whistlestop Rails, for example, tasking you with repairing a railway line to keep a toy train chugging along.
As you make your way through these colourful playgrounds as Yoshi, it genuinely feel like you’re journeying across the arts and crafts table of an incredibly imaginative child, engrossing you in a world popping with life and boasting just as much attention to detail as Nintendo’s greatest hits. The whimsical music also adds to that adorably playful tone.
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This arts and craft theme isn’t just a quirky aesthetic, also blending with the level design for many uniquely charming hazards and obstacles. If any object moves, there’s almost always a Shy Guy literally pulling the strings backstage or blowing through straws to make cotton ball platforms hover in the air.
Yoshi can interact with the environment too, you’ll use magnets to climb up metal cans, and stomp on pumps to blow up a cat balloon in order to frighten mischievous mice. Sussing out such solutions is deeply satisfying, but developer Good-Feel provides enough nudges and hints throughout to prevent even the youngest of gamers becoming bamboozled.
There’s more to this Woolly World successor than a move from knitwear to cardboard though. For the first time in the series, Yoshi occupies a 3D space. This is still a 2D side-scrolling platformer of course, but you can now take divulging paths to move closer or further away from the camera, and can even hurl eggs at objects in the background for a chance of unveiling a hidden secret.
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This new feature makes finding all the collectables more challenging and rewarding, as you’ve really got to be alert and experimental to find every coin, health item and flower. Crafted World has fully embraced its identity as a collectathon, giving you more of an incentive to become a completionist with flowers required to unlock new stages and coins needed to purchase adorable cardboard outfits that can be used as breakable armour.
With such a focus on collectables, Crafted World encourages exploration and curiosity. Those looking for a fast-paced action platformer will come away disappointed. Reaching the end of each stage is ridiculously easy, with little timing or precision required to progress. That’s especially true when you factor in the generous health bar and trademark Yoshi flutter jump that provides a second chance of salvation following a mistimed leap.
Uncovering every collectable and completing the stage with full health isn’t so easy though, with both required for 100% completion. This classic Nintendo system means Crafted World is easy enough for children to reach the finishing line, yet still offers a satisfying test for completionists. Some of the timed challenges scattered through the stages are genuinely difficult too, demanding accurate egg launches or speedy platforming skills. It’s these tasks that elevate Crafted World from a trivial cutesy adventure to a platformer I’d be happy to sink hours upon hours into.
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The new ‘Find Poochy Pups’ mode offers even more replayability for each level too, flipping the stage back to front and presenting you with the task of locating three pooches within a given time frame. These challenges aren’t as rewarding or creative as those found on the original stages, but the new mode at least offers a fresh perspective on previously completed stages as you see the back-end of poorly painted tin cans and hidden wiring of various lights and gizmos, almost as if you’ve got backstage access to all the cardboard clockwork running the show.
There’s also get the odd unconventional stage requiring you to amass a high points tally in order to win flowers. I was only able to play one during the preview event, as I jumped into a hulking Yoshi robot and crushed every cardboard creation in sight to rack up my score. This level offered a refreshing change of pace to the typical platforming venture, while also proving be one of the more difficult and fun experiences I played.
Want to double up with a friend? No problem, as you can play each stage with a pal. Co-operative modes such as this usually makes collectathons mind-numbingly easy, but since you can gobble up your pals, launch them at an enemy or jump on their back for piggy back, it can make the platforming hilariously chaotic.
I let out a few belly laughs as a fellow journalist and I raced to reach every collectable and inadvertently knocked each other into bottomless chasms. I can really see Crafted World being the perfect platformer for parents and young children to play together, with both parties being thoroughly entertained.
I only played a handful of stages during my Yoshi’s Crafted World playthrough, but it was long enough for me to become infatuated with the playful artwork and imaginative level designs. In terms of presentation, this as good as anything Nintendo has produced, which is an incredible accomplishment.
Of course, this is still a simple collectathon at heart. I’m not convinced Crafted World will break the mould of the platforming genre, but equally, I’m excited to play more and see what else the creative arts and craft theme has to offer.