Two sides to every story.
I instantly fell in love with Yoshi’s Crafted World when it was announced at E3 2017. A Yoshi-starring Nintendo platformer with a gorgeous art style and an intriguing level-flipping dynamic? Sign me up! Nintendo finally gave me the chance to play it, though only for about 20 torturously short minutes, and so far, I can confidently say that Yoshi’s new adventure will be nothing if not endlessly charming.
The hook of Yoshi’s Crafted World is that it’s a left-to-right 2D platformer that mixes in some 3D gameplay elements. Certain paths might take you to the background and others to the foreground. Sometimes you’ll need to flip cardboard doors around so that you can literally go behind the scenes. Meanwhile, coins, collectibles, or enemies are occasionally hiding behind the papercraft objects in the scene, so you’ll need to aim to throw an egg towards the camera or away from it instead of just to the sides. And most of all, of course, is that you’ll get to play levels in reverse, from the other side of the scene. I only got to experience one example of this, but I can see it (hopefully) being super compelling the deeper into the world you get.
Speaking of the world, Nintendo told me that Yoshi’s Crafted World is set up with a classic Mario-esque world structure, but they wouldn’t tell me how many worlds are in the game. And that leads to my primary concern with Yoshi: difficulty. In my time with it, nothing was even close to challenging. I really enjoyed the two-player co-op challenge of trying to find all three hidden Poochy dogs in a level while also finishing said stage in under five minutes, but outside of that, everything I tried was a cakewalk. Hopefully this proves to be a wildly misplaced concern, but as I only played the 20 minutes’ worth that Nintendo chose, it’s all I have to go off of right now as Yoshi’s Crafted World’s March 29 release date approaches.
But back to the action: I jumped and kick-floated (as Yoshi does in any game he appears in), ate bad guys – who get converted into eggs you can fling at both organic and environmental targets – and collected coins until I reached the exit to each stage. Hunting for secrets is as fun as ever, but my unexpected favorite part of Crafted World was Poochy. No, not the infamous Simpsons character who ruined Itchy and Scratchy, but a unique and adorable Poochy who you can ride on the back of and who can barrel through the big enemies that Yoshi can’t take down on his own. He is as cute as he is incredibly useful. (Side note: if Mario rides Yoshi and Yoshi rides Poochy, who does Poochy ride?)
Two-player co-op is a treat, too. Naturally, our team-up started with us taking turns gobbling up each other’s Yoshis, but once we got over that urge, we had a great time. It can be a touch confusing to track what’s going on when you’ve got two Yoshis, enemies, and your combined count of almost a dozen eggs on the screen at any given time, but we adjusted. One player can ride the other through parts of the level, which should make it easier for parents to play with their kids.
Hopefully the later worlds of Yoshi’s Crafted World pack a greater challenge for veterans of Nintendo platformers, but my first hands-on with Yoshi’s new solo game confirms that it’s on the right track in just about every other department.