Nintendo is a company that creates new games in long-running franchises like Mario, Star Fox or Zelda almost ad nauseam. It's a seemingly never-ending rotation with each new title trying to top the last. And while new titles do often innovate, they still tend to pack one of two powerful punches: nostalgia, or an undeniable cute factor.
Yoshi's Woolly World might just be the perfect combination of both.
Like previous Yoshi games, Woolly World is a platformer that sees you hopping through levels, throwing eggs and licking just about everything. It's new big hook this time around is its yarn-y look — and, actually, it's a pretty good one. Yoshi bumps his brain against baskets to get more yarn ball eggs; he literally unravels parts of the levels to uncover secrets; and everything about the game's world has a definite sense of "aww" to it.
I found myself accidentally eating my twin a lot
I'm obsessed with its looks, but playing a demo of Woolly World convinced me that there's more to it than just pleasant aesthetics. The level I played had me scooping up yarn balls and firing them onto nearby frames to knit together a path forward. The platforming feels pretty standard for a Yoshi game — hop, hold and float — but it does feel good. New power-ups, such as bigger yarn balls, allow you spread your knitting further to open up far away platforms.
Yoshi's Woolly World also has some neat amiibo features. If you have a standard figure, like a Fox, a Mario or a Link, you can tap them on the GamePad to play as as special yarn Yoshi version of the character. The change is a cool, albeit superficial, one; for example; don't expect to start shooting lasers as Fox. A Nintendo rep told me that you'll also be able to save these costumes once you've used them. This means that you can borrow a friend's amiibo and then access that costume later on your own.
If you use one of the Woolly World amiibo, things get more interesting. You're given a second on-screen Yoshi that controls identical to yours. When you jump, it jumps, and so forth. This actually adds more of a challenge than I expected. I found myself accidentally eating my twin a lot, and sometimes tripping over my fellow (and then losing it off a cliff).
Yoshi's Woolly World launches for Wii U on Oct. 16. It doesn't strike me as a game that will break the franchise's mold, but I can't deny how delightful it is.