Yoshi has a long history of enjoyable platformers yet he's never quite reached the high notes of his SNES classic Yoshi's Island since it debuted. Does Yoshi's Crafted World have what it takes to make him a platforming superstar yet again?
When I first started playing Yoshi's Crafted World, its distinct visual style of paper crafts come to life immediately reminded me of Media Molecule's fantastic 3D platformer Tearaway. However, Yoshi's Crafted World has something that Tearaway doesn't: Yoshis! Watching the little cuties run, jump, and flutter around is a treat and I particularly enjoyed the brief albeit memorable cutscenes that have the little fellows interact and react to surprising circumstances. Plus, being able to dress them up in oversized costumes (many of which can be unlocked by scanning certain amiibo) offers plenty of goofy fun. On the audio side, you'll hear plenty of familiar Yoshi noises as he charges his egg throws and flutters his little legs while the music is charming yet not as catchy as previous entries in the series.
Adorable graphics and sound aside, how does Yoshi's Crafted World set itself apart from other games in the franchise? For starters, it has a semi-3D element in that you can throw eggs at objects in the backgrounds and foregrounds and even travel up and down pathways to change lanes. It's still very much a 2D platformer but these touches definitely give it a whole new dimension, literally.
The core gameplay of Yoshi's Crafted World isn't far removed from what you'd expect although it does feature plenty of twists that keep its campaign feeling fresh. You'll encounter many different kinds of stages and segments throughout the campaign such as automatically scrolling levels, a stage where you can only see shadows whenever a screen slides in the way, and portions that have you control certain vehicles or ride everyone's favourite pup: Poochy! This amount of variety definitely makes for one fulfilling adventure.
Yoshi's Crafted World's campaign is uniquely designed as well. First of all, you'll reach a point early on where you can choose various paths on the world map that each include a precious jewel at the end and the goal of the campaign is to retrieve them all. Having this non-linear level structure is great as not many platformers allow you to have this much freedom. As you play through levels, you'll amass a collection of hidden Smiley Flowers that are also earned through finishing levels at full health as well as after collecting 100 regular coins and all 20 hidden red coins. Some stages are played like mini arcade games where you have to reach certain score thresholds to earn Smiley Flowers. Anyway, these flowers are used to unlock more levels so earning enough is crucial if you want to progress further.
Believe it or not, there's plenty of replay value within Yoshi's Crafted World's campaign in addition to collecting everything in each stage. Almost every stage allows you play it again in reverse while trying to collect all of the Poochy Pups which is as fun as it is adorable. There are also 121 hidden crafts that you can collect to fill out a rewarding catalog as well as toy vending machines that grant you costumes and such by spending your hard-earned coins. You could spend dozens of hours and still have a lot more to see and do.
Although it sounds like an excellent game, Yoshi's Crafted World unfortunately has its fair share of faults. Primarily, it's far too easy even for a Nintendo platformer. Not only can you breeze through the majority of the campaign while almost never biting the dust, some of the stages can be downright boring. For example, controlling a giant automatically moving Yoshi by merely punching up, down, or straight ahead made me want to fall asleep. Also, the arcade-style stages where you have to earn points are more tedious than many NES Zapper games. Next, I enjoy playing cooperatively but many co-op mechanics here are irritating to deal with. Accidentally hopping on each other's backs or eating each other made me and my gaming pal almost constantly annoyed, especially during crucial moments.
Finally, even though Yoshi's Crafted World is an extremely easy game, it also has many "what the heck do I do now?" moments. There were more than a few times when progressing through a stage or defeating a boss required a very specific yet unclear set of steps and wandering around while trying to figure these situations out just isn't fun. For example, you may have walked by a key object that you needed or not noticed a side path and a couple of bosses even require some outside the box thinking to defeat although they're still technically very easy. These sorts of key steps could have definitely been highlighted in a more intuitive way.
Yoshi's Crafted World is one of the cutest games that you'll ever play but it's incredibly easy to the point where it becomes unengaging. That being said, the amount of variety and replay value is top-notch and that makes the familiar gameplay really shine.
- + Familiar Yoshi gameplay yet with an interesting 3D element and plenty of twists
- + Adorable visuals and music
- + Lots of stages, variety, and replay value
- - Little sense of challenge and some stages are just plain boring
- - Co-op mechanics can be irritating
- - Plenty of "what do I do?" moments