Yoshi made his debut in Super Mario World back in 1990. That game is renowned for many reasons, a primary one being able to ride on a dinosaur that can eat enemies and spit them out. Yoshi quickly became a fan favorite, going on to star in his own core game five years later. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island has been hailed by many as one of the greatest games ever made for its excellent level design and unique art style. From there, a successful spin-off series was born. Many have fond memories playing Yoshi's Story on Nintendo 64, and using the abilities of other Mario characters in Yoshi's Island DS. Simply put, Yoshi had become almost as popular as Mario himself, and the dinosaur is back on Nintendo Switch for his latest adventure.
Originally announced at E3 2017, Yoshi's Crafted World quickly became a talking point among longtime fans for its cardboard diorama-like art style. Good-Feel, the company behind Yoshi's previous title, Woolly World, has returned as the developer of Crafted World. Although every core Yoshi game has brought decent platforming, no game has quite reached the magnificence of Yoshi's Island on SNES. Finally, a game has gotten close. Although not as challenging as Yoshi's Island, Crafted World makes up for it in its diverse, joyful level design. Good-Feel has put out a charming, welcoming platformer that will bring back fond memories of the company's most popular game, Kirby's Epic Yarn.
If you have played other Yoshi games, the gameplay will feel familiar. You can run, jump, and eat enemies as Yoshi. The defining traits of the games are being able to turn enemies into throwable eggs, and flutter jumping. Although Crafted World is primarily a side-scroller, there are intriguing 3D elements as well. You can throw eggs at objects in the foreground and background. Also, stages can be played on the flip side to search for runaway Poochys. As you traverse the map, you'll find stages with new gameplay mechanics, such as controlling a giant Yoshi robot, and utilizing a race car. There are a number of Flowers to collect, which will be a big help because you'll need a certain amount of Flowers to progress at different points.
The story takes place in the land of the Yoshis. Legend says that the Sundream Stone, made up of five magical gems, can grant the user any wish. Of course, Baby Bowser can't resist it for his own nefarious purpose. Alongside Kamek, Baby Bower attempts to steal the Sundream Stone. The Yoshis engage in a tug of war, resulting in the Sundream Stone scattering its gems across the land. Now, it's up to Yoshi to gather the gems before Baby Bowser can get his greedy little paws on them.
One of Crafted World's greatest aspects is the diverse level themes. Yoshi will be traveling through space on a miniature rocket, blasting through the desert in a Triceratops skull, carefully navigating a spooky area, and more. In this way, Crafted World is already far superior to Woolly World, a game with boring levels in comparison. It's hard not to smile when jumping on the dancing flowers in Spring Sprung Trail, or going through the delectable desserts in Poochy's Sweet Run. The game is a fine example of showing the Switch's graphical capability. It's subtle, but the waterfall in Ride the River looks incredibly good. Simply put, Crafted World's levels are a joy.
Of course, having nice looking levels makes for a pretty game, but not necessarily a good one. How is the core gameplay of Yoshi's Crafted World? As stated earlier, Crafted World lacks the challenge of Yoshi's Island. But, that isn't a bad thing here. Like Kirby's Epic Yarn, the levels are played less with a challenge mindset, and more with a pleasant experience in mind. That's not to say Crafted World is completely devoid of challenge, however. There are some fast-paced segments. No one is going to forget attempting to outrun the Skelesaurus Wrecks, or avoiding the axe of the unexpectedly creepy enemies in Be Afraid of the Dark. Jumping on the Goonies in Windward Way provided some great platforming as well.
No one is going to forget attempting to outrun the Skelesaurus Wrecks.
Playing the levels on the flip side is a great way to add extra replay value. They provide an additional challenge of finding the Poochys, and it never feels like you're literally playing the same stage over again. Collecting the Flowers is fun, which is a good thing because you'll need them to progress. (They also open the bonus area after you complete the main game.) As for the boss battles, there are some notable encounters. The battle against Gator Train was a lot of fun, and Spike the Piranha was good as well. Could some of the bosses been a bit harder? Sure, but it's important to remember that this is a game with everyone in mind. With co-op being a feature, this will be the first game for many young siblings, or parents looking to buy their child their very first game. With that in mind, the difficulty feels just right for a seasoned veteran playing alongside a newcomer to the world of games.
Crafted World has an overall decent soundtrack. You've probably heard the main theme a bunch of times if you've been keeping up with the marketing, but it still sounds great in the game. The water/space theme provides a relaxed, soothing sound in the same way Dire Dire Docks in Super Mario 64, and Stickerbrush Symphony in Donkey Kong Country 2 did for those games. There are some areas where the soundtrack could be improved (although the main theme is fantastic, it does get reused a lot), it is pretty solid generally.
For one last note, you can use your collected coins to buy in-game outfits. These outfits grant the player extra defense, as well as a cosmetic change. Although useless for veterans (aside from cosmetics), they can be good for newcomers playing alongside the longtime players.
Yoshi's Crafted World is a fine example of the kinds of experiences Nintendo is known for. The stages are fantastic, from giant cupcakes to dancing flowers. The gimmick-themed stages are a blast as well, such as jumping through rings in a certain amount of time, and shooting balloons while riding an airplane. Platforming is simple, but not overly simple. Longtime players should have a fun time without feeling like it's too easy. The game is able to bring smiles and cheer, something we all could use a little more of, right?
4.5 out of 5 stars.
A copy of the game was purchased by The Gamer for this review. Yoshi's Crafted World is now available for Nintendo Switch.