Yoshi's Crafted World: Solid Cardboard Egg Action
Here’s another feel-good game from the grandmasters of fuzzy warm feeling generation: Good-Feel. Even the company name perfectly reflects what they do! If you’ve ever played any recent Kirby game, and more specifically, Epic Yarn, or Yoshi’s Wooly World, you know exactly what to expect. By the way, did you know that Good-Feel was also behind Wario Land: Shake It? Hopefully Yoshi deserves a better treatment compared to the beautiful but awful ending of Wario’s 2D adventure. Let’s take a closer look. Bring Your Own scissors, tape, and glue stick.
Yoshi’s Crafted World is, in essence, Yoshi’s Wooly World, except that all the wool has been traded for cardboard. Even Poochy the dog makes an entry. It’s a traditional 2D platformer where Yoshi’s iconic abilities are all present: flapping in the air, sticking out the tongue and mjamming enemies to convert them into throwable eggs, finding hidden flowers in the stage, and collecting coins—and of course, being on the lookout for the red ones that yield another flower. If your last Yoshi adventure was on the SNES, everything is still more or less there, minus the baby Mario(s).
As with other Good-Feel games, this one oozes charm. The “cardboard design” isn’t just a label that’s thoughtlessly slapped on. It appears in every nook and cranny of every level and world map piece. Animated background art (of which most can be hit for extra coins) look like neatly cut-out pieces, like the ghost in the above screenshot. Note the table: it’s folded paper. That window on the top right? Cardboard—can you see the pattern revealing on the side? Note the floor: it consists of various pieces of paper or cardboard, expertly put together, sometimes with a bit of scotch tape. In water levels, you’re floating on top of cardboard-and-cork lily leafs. In space levels, you hop from plastic bottle to plastic bottle, dressed as rockets using tin foil and a dab of acrylic paint.
When zooming in on the world map, each world is a giant paper diorama that neatly unfolds after you unlock it with a certain amount of flowers—unveiling the first level spot even comes with a bit of (paper, of course) confetti! Yay! The cuteness factor scales off the charts once you’re re-running through the same levels from end to beginning to find three friends of Poochy. I wonder how many physical cut-outs have been made to prototype the levels. It must have been a real treat working on this project. It’s crazy to see all that cardboard come to life in the Unreal Engine 4 on the Switch. In handheld mode, the console does struggle. I didn’t notice hickups or bad frame drops but the battery drains fast and the console becomes quite warm.
In case you can’t get enough, Nintendo even provides free diorama printables to download, print and cut out. A lovely activity with the kids.
Speaking of kids, is this game tailored to children or to adults? I think The Gamer is right—it’s both. They argue that adults will enjoy this because there’s plenty to do and it’s still a classic Yoshi platformer. Indeed, a completionist will feel right at home. Plus, if you finish a level, you can replay it from back to front and the objectives change from collecting to finding Poochy’s friends. There’s other stuff to unlock as well: a hidden world at the end of the game and… costumes for Yoshi to wear? The costumes can be won at egg vending machines and come in three different levels of rareness. They act as a buffer in case Yoshi gets hit, which in turn helps children navigate around enemies.
The game is relatively short which is another plus for both parties I guess. After a while, all those bright colors and all that cheeriness starts to wear, and I didn’t mind the game being over. It’s also very easy. Boss battles are present but even the end boss is a pushover if you know what to do.
The thing that bugged me the most, however, was perhaps the music. After being beaten to death by the main level track and overworld track—that of course also have to cater certain amounts of fluffiness—shutting down the Switch felt like a genuine relief.
Perhaps it’s time for Yoshi to change things up a little. The story is barely present and concerns conventional Mario universe enemies: Kamek and Bowser Jr. arrive at paper world to yet again cause mischief. Kamek’s magic wand turns cardboard gears and toilet paper rolls into menacing looking but easy to beat bosses, and while the animations that showcase the assembling of these enemies are superb, Yoshi’s Crafted World ultimately doesn’t try hard enough to stick with me for long. Even with all that usage of glue.
I presume children will enjoy this much more than I did, and there’s still fun to be had for adults, but if you’re looking for the next Yoshi’s Island, it’s definitely not this one—whatever Your Stinkiness tries to pull out of his hat.
If you’re looking for a long-term feel-good investment on the Switch, take a look at Animal Crossing: New Horizons instead. If you’re looking for a real 2D platforming challenge that’s capable of dozing out plenty of nostalgic shots, perhaps Donkey Kong’s Tropical Freeze might be a better fit.
Yoshi’s Crafted World is bright, cheery, fun, and beautifully crafted (ha!). It’s also (too) short, (too) easy, and sometimes (too) off-putting.