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Yoshi's Crafted World Review - Style & Substance?

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: MP
Yoshi's Crafted World is adorable, but does the gameplay hold up? Or is this game all style and no substance?

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Yoshi's Crafted World Review

Yoshi has arrived on the Switch. Rather than a straight-up port of the beloved dino's previous outing for the Wii U, Nintendo’s proven partner Good-Feel has crafted an entirely new adventure. While immediately familiar looking, it switches-up some key gameplay mechanics and the overall visual aesthetic. So, the question is: fresh new handcrafted product, or too many recycled materials used. Welcome to MojoPlays, and this is our review for “Yoshi's Crafted World”!

If you are already familiar with the Yoshi series, or any of Nintendo’s platformers, you would be right to assume that the plot here is going to be paper thin.

At the root of the shenanigans are Baby Bowser and his advisor slash full-time babysitter Kamek. Together, they try to steal the Sundream Stone, which can make your dreams come true. However, their attempt to take it from the Yoshi’s loving care ultimately scatters it’s five gems, launching the Yoshi's on a quest to re-gather the pieces before the little party pooper can get his claws on them. So yeah, we have seen a similar set up before in countless Nintendo offerings...not that there's anything wrong with it, as it structures the platformer well enough.

The 8th game in Yoshi's core outings, for those keeping count, this is the direct successor to 2015's "Yoshi's Woolly World." Retaining and expanding on that game’s 2.5D platforming mechanics and apparent goal of cuteness overload, Good-Feel once again demonstrates a true mastery of the hand-crafted style. After all, they did introduce it back in 2010 with "Kirby's Epic Yarn." However, they have now decided to venture away from fabrics and textiles and into the magical world of cardboard crafting, which thematically ties in nicely with Nintendo Labo. Yes, Labo does cameo here.

So what makes Crafted World stand out, aside from the new materials showcased are mechanics focused on foreground and background gameplay. This takes advantage of Yoshi being able to venture into the distance on various fields, and interact with items both close and far. It sounds like a basic gimmick until you first experience it in action, complete with it’s subtle use of camera focus and blurring effects.

The signature gameplay mechanic of the series is Yoshi’s ability to eat enemies and toss the eggs that he produces, and that remains intact. However, Crafted World trades out the old aim mechanic for new and complete egg tossing freedom. Simply toggle the targeting icon and move it until items or enemies aimed at are highlighted. The result is a welcome evolution that opens up the platformer’s depth, quite literally.

Personally, I find the new changes are great additions that separate this entry from what has come before. I similarly adore the cardboard aesthetic, as it delights and surprises, while feeling more in line with classic Yoshi experiences. Woolly World's fabric design felt almost a bit too artificial, whereas here things feel more alive within a crafted playground. Call me a stickler, but I like that Yoshi once again throws eggs and not balls of yarn.

Also swapped out from Woolly World are the ability enhancing badges that could purchased to help you through stages. Instead, coins are used to purchase cardboard costumes that add both a cute personalized style, as well as simply grant you additional health.

Scavenger hunting and collecting is the heart and soul of Crafted World. Progression requires Smiley Flowers to access new areas, and several are hidden within each stage, forcing you to explore every nook and cranny and undertake repeated playthroughs of completed areas. Collecting the required coin amounts per stage similarly nets you Smiley Flowers, while giving you your purchasing power.

On your journey you will be able to check your scrapbook at any point to keep tabs on everything you have purchased or collected. These include costumes and crafts. You can also re-watch unlocked cinematics and listen to music from the in-menu scrap-book as well.

In terms of control options, the game allows you to choose either a “Mellow” or “Classic” difficulty at any point. I personally stuck with classic, as the game is not overly difficult to begin with, though it does ramp as you progress. Mellow essentially gives Yoshi wings, allowing him to flutter jump indefinitely, which is great for younger players.

Regardless of what you choose, in Crafted World it is impossible to get a game over screen, or ever experience more than momentary setbacks.

While it makes no functional difference, you can even swap Yoshi colours as desired from the menu. You are never forced to play a colour that isn’t your absolute favourite. As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of orange.

In terms of play options, the game allows for a pretty wide array of customizations. This includes switching to “Hasty” targeting, meaning instant twitch firing instead of a focus on carefully placed aim. You similarly can select between 4 different pre-set button layouts.

As for the controller configurations, you can use the two joy-cons though the grip attachment, or attached to the system, the pro controller, or a single Joy-con. These options extend into the game’s two player mode, where a friend can drop in and out whenever they like. Personally, I found the single joy-con experience worked extremely well and played much of the game that way.

While a two player option is always welcome, I have to admit that I enjoyed the game far better when I was playing alone. Crafted World is a mellow and relaxing experience, from the pace to the soundtrack, and adding another friend into the mix caused me more frustration than anything else. It's just way too easy to swallow your companion or ride on each other's back unintentionally.

For me, the multiplayer option is less for having another experienced player along for the ride, and more to accompany a young gamer. This is especially the case as no one ever gets left behind as players who fall down pits or off-screen with follow along in a flying egg until released.

Two player mode also had the unintended effect of allowing you to exploit the mechanic to clear areas in less than honest ways, despite the best efforts of the game developers to prevent this from happening.

Going alone or with a pal, the game moves along at a brisk pace and remains engaging throughout. This is thanks to branching paths and various world themes, from the likes of the “Dino Desert” to the feudal Japan inspired “Ninjama”, just to name a few favorite standouts.

Meanwhile, many stages along the way swap out the base platforming mechanic for such other activities like piloting vehicles, to shooting galleries, and whimsical boss fights that may be formulaic, but will make you smile none-the-less. No two areas or activities are exactly alike, and doing everything will take you quite a few hours, and more, if you are a completionist.

The game also cleverly turns stages on their head, making you tackle them from the reverse perspective....and did I mention that Yoshi's loyal pal Poochy is back, along with poochy pups?

So what’s the overall takeaway here? Let’s be honest, no one expected a dud, and this certainly isn't one. The game is beyond charming. Sure, it's primarily geared towards younger gamers, but kids at heart will feel satisfied as well. If you have ever played a Yoshi themed platformer before and loved it, I think you will absolutely adore this one. If you have never been into this sort of cutesy aesthetic, or platforming in general, nothing I have said will compel you to start now.

The bottom line is that this is a satisfying and engaging package full of fresh new exclusive Switch content…it’s not just another port. For Nintendo fans like myself, that is enough to recommend you go ahead and unfold your wallet.

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