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Read This Before Buying Yoshi's Crafted World

2019 will bring on not only a new, villainously named CEO of Nintendo of America, but also a whole lot of games for the Switch. The Switch library has been steadily expanding since 2017, embracing both third-party games and some new titles from Nintendo itself. For players who haven't gotten enough of their favorite mustachioed plumber and his colorful gang of pals in Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8, or even Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, worry not and get hype: a favorite face from the Mushroom Kingdom has a whole new adventure in store for fans.

Yoshi's Crafted World is a game that feels both classic and cutting edge: the gameplay utilizes old favorites like Yoshi himself and the familiar type of platforming that Mario games built an industry upon, but with a twist, a flipside, if you will. Yoshi's Crafted World has a cardboard look that would make any arts and crafts enthusiast proud. Before you experience this handcrafted world for yourself, let's brush up on the following.

Yes, Yoshi has his own games

Like Luigi, Yoshi is more than just Mario's green sidekick. The little dinosaur first made his appearance in Super Mario World, where he helped out the Mario brothers after Princess Peach was, as she so often is, kidnapped. Yoshis are a species of superpowered dinosaurs, whose powers depend on their color. In this game, the green Yoshi we know and love was the only one spared from being trapped inside an egg by Bowser.

But Yoshi knew Mario from before this adventure. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island had Yoshi as the starring character, because Mario at this time was only a wee baby that needed the more adult dino's assistance. From then on, they had an unbreakable bond and Yoshi had his very own series. Yoshi's Story came out two years later in 1997, followed by Yoshi Topsy-Turvy in 2004, Yoshi Touch & Go in 2005, Yoshi's Island DS in 2006, Yoshi's New Island in 2014, and Yoshi's Woolly World in 2015.

Not counting remakes, Luigi and Yoshi are tied in number of games wherein Mario finally gives up the limelight and allows one of his best buddies to take center stage. These games are a little different from Mario's own Goomba-bopping escapades, but the Yoshi series is packed with the kind of Nintendo charm that fans love.

Yoshi's Woolly World

Rather than cardboard crafts, the Yoshi game that was well-received enough to warrant the creation of Yoshi's Crafted World was Yoshi's Woolly World in 2015. As the name suggests, the aesthetic was all wool yarn: Yoshi and his pal Poochy were painstakingly crocheted, the world around them just as soft-looking, made from knitted yarn and buttons.

Whereas publications like Game Informer said that other Yoshi titles fell flat, Yoshi's Woolly World was a worthy successor to Super Mario World 2, the original dinosaur adventure from 20 years before. Rather than eggs, Yoshi lobs balls of yarn at enemies, who are just as creatively rendered in stitched felt and thread. As usual, the Koopa crew have interrupted the otherwise idyllic life of the Yoshis. Kamek transforms most of them into little smiley-faced skeins of Wonder Wool. Two Yoshis are able to hide from this spell and are thus tasked with saving their brethren from an eternity as yarn.

The game got good reviews, with a solid 78 on Metacritic. Where it lost in points was the fact that Yoshi's Woolly World isn't exactly a challenging title. The 3DS port of the game, renamed Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World, gave more attention to the little dog-thing and the option to make things even easier. That mode, called Mellow mode, allowed for the youngest of players to get their sticky hands on the fluffy adventure on Craft Island.

Who is Poochy (and who else will appear)?

Just as Mario rides on Yoshi to avoid certain obstacles, Yoshi has his own friend to help navigate dangerous terrain. Poochy is a dog that doesn't exactly look like a dog, but licks faces and wags his tail nonetheless. Poochy can walk across spikes and lava with no problem, so he comes in handy in a pinch. In Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World for the 3DS, Poochy has his own gang of friends in the form of Poochy-Pups who follow the player and sniff out secrets. Poochy-Pups will reappear in Yoshi's Crafted World, hiding in the flipside of the map.

In addition to the veritable pet shop load of pooches in Crafted World, there are a number of enemies for Yoshi to clobber with eggs. Mostly, those appear to be Guys. Shy Guy is the most familiar face (mask) but like Yoshis, they come in a variety of types to trip up players. For the most part, their powers are explained in their names: Fly Guys have wings, Knife Guys have knives, Ninja Guys have shuriken, and Pirate Guys have cannonballs. There are also some undead additions to the game like Zombie Guys who rise from the grave to shuffle around menacingly and Vampire Guys who glide through the air complete with countly cape. In the game's jam-packed levels, there are plenty of Piranha Plants and Koopa Troopas to avoid too. Players will have to stay constantly vigilant and aim those eggs with accuracy.

Good-Feel makes feel-good Nintendo games

Fans may have noticed that Yoshi's Crafted World isn't the first Nintendo title to have such a distinctive look. In 2010, Wii players were treated to the fluffy adventure of Kirby's Epic Yarn, which placed the cute pink blob Kirby in a world made of cloth. Kirby also found himself transformed into a yarn outline, but being made out of yarn comes with its perks. Yarn Kirby is able to whip is body around and grab onto buttons and zippers, so even though he has lost his signature ability to inhale enemies, he finds himself well adjusted to the yarn-y world.

Developer Good-Feel handcrafted this scrapbook experience, and went on to crochet together Yoshi's Woolly World, clearly having honed their skills in making such a unique aesthetic. Good-Feel was founded by a former Konami employee and the studio cut their teeth on Wario Land: Shake It! in 2008. Yoshi's Woolly World cemented them as a maker of feel-good, fluffy Nintendo games, and 2019 will see two of their expertly stitched titles released into the world. Kirby's Epic Yarn is getting them same treatment as Yoshi's Woolly World and being ported to the 3DS under the name Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn. Yoshi's Crafted World will be on the Switch, telling a whole new story.

Here's the story

The story of Yoshi's Crafted World starts the way in which many Nintendo games do, with a peaceful day interrupted by meddling Koopas. In this case, on the top of the lovely island of Yoshis, a bunch of Yoshis are hanging out on the "gem-set wonder known as the Sundream Stone." The Sundream Stone kind of looks like something from a child's first ceramics class, all Play Doh and glitter, but legend has it that it holds the awesome power to make one's wildest dreams come true.

This is when the day turns stormy and in rides Kamek and Baby Bowser on a broom. They try to steal the Sundream Stone, but the Yoshis pile onto it. In the tug-of-war that ensues, the five sparkling gems on the Stone fly off and are scattered like comets across the cardboard map of Yoshi's Crafted World. Naturally, it is now up to Yoshi (the green one we know and love) to find the missing gems and restore the Sundream Stone to its former glory.

The game flips out

Yoshi's Crafted World's levels seriously look as if they were made by hand. Construction paper is taped clumsily to cardboard; crayon drawings are scrawled on recycled snack boxes. From egg cartons to paper clips, the world looks ripped from a third-grade diorama. But this aesthetic isn't the only thing that makes the game unique. Yoshi's Crafted World celebrates the idea that there are two sides to every story.

Specifically, this means that every level has two sides. After initially running through the level, the camera will spin 180 degrees, showing the flipside, the other side of each cardboard obstacle, and the secrets it hides. The second run through the level will reveal previously untouched enemies, hidden items, and a couple of Poochy-Pups waiting to be discovered. This also charmingly shows the effort put into making the world feel as if it had been built from cardboard and tape.

What's better than one Yoshi? Two Yoshis.

It may help to have a second set of eyes to spot all the secrets woven into the levels of Yoshi's Crafted World, because there are quite a few. Players are meant to find treasures like coins and Smiley Flowers in both the front-facing, and the backwards flipside playthroughs. Trying out two-player cooperative exploration might make this search a little easier and more fun.

Passing a Joy-Con to a friend will summon a red Yoshi. Each player has the full power of a Yoshi: they can swallow up enemies, turning them into eggs to be thrown at later enemies or obstacles. When Yoshis jump, they kick their feet and defy gravity, fluttering off the ground. Yoshis can also be ridden by other Yoshis, allowing players to piggyback each other for maximum movement efficiency. They can also gobble each other up and spit them out, throwing them quite a distance in a sometimes helpful, but mostly trolling, move. While the game isn't hard enough to require the help of Player Two, it certainly makes the already enjoyable experience that much more of a blast.

Mellow mode makes things easy-peasy

There are definitely some Nintendo games that test the mettle of their players. Few games can bring out the level of competitiveness and ruthlessness in its players that Super Smash Bros. does. There are 999 moons in Super Mario Odyssey, challenging players to explore every nook and cranny of the expansive worlds on the considerable map of the game. Certain Zelda games have made us walk away from the console for a moment, lest we do something embarrassing in our rage quit.

Yoshi's Crafted World will do no such thing. The game appears to be fairly chill, but it can also get even more Mellow. Mellow mode in Yoshi's Woolly World took the edge off things and gave Yoshi wings so that he could do more than just flutter madly. In Mellow mode, Yoshi doesn't need Poochy to walk over spikes and lava for him, he can just soar above the danger. These training wings don't necessarily take all the fun out of the game; there's still a challenge despite the breezier, easier experience.

Freedom in a platformer

We've been more or less spoiled by open-world games. After playing Breath of the Wild, wherein you can climb anything, explore everywhere, and do just about whatever you like, a typical platformer can feel constrained. Running along a predetermined path might not feel as good as making up your own journey.

Despite Yoshi's Crafted World functioning as a traditional platformer, Yoshi's abilities give the players quite a bit of agency. Large swaths of the papercraft world are interactive, making it an immersive experience. As the demo shows, you can throw eggs at just about anything: cows, flowers, sheep, and ninjas — all of the paper variety of course. These interactive inanimates typically hide coins, or maybe even a Poochy-Pup. Sometimes there's nothing there, but destructible environments add a bit of chaotic charm regardless. So while there is a distinctive paper path to follow, players are still able to get the most out of the map through a new level of interactivity both in the front and flipside of the levels.

People are picky about Yoshi games

Games like Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Woolly World, and now Yoshi's Crafted World have gotten full points for being adorable. Yoshi is cute to begin with, but making the little green dino a bit more warm and fuzzy via an irresistible aesthetic is even better. However, they have lost fans' attention and admiration for one reason alone: they're too easy.

With Yoshi's egg-throwing, enemy-gulping, flutter-kicking abilities there is very little that he can't take on. Yoshi is overpowered, and the worlds that he has explored in the past few games haven't posed much of a challenge for him. What doesn't endear, disappoints. Once that charm of the aesthetic has worn off, players are left wondering: is that it? The gameplay is more or less a breeze. The games sporadically shake things up and offer more difficulty for players to muddle their way through, but for the most part Yoshi games are easy-peasy. They're a prime choice for introducing little kiddos to the world of Nintendo, but not the best for a seasoned veteran who likes a bit of frustration here and there. Looking for a challenge? Try finding all 999 moons in Super Mario Odyssey. Looking for a relaxing afternoon? Consider giving Yoshi's Crafted World a spin.

A box with the download code inside?

Yoshi's Crafted World has already created a little bit of a stir, but not for the reasons you might suspect. The world is steadily, and perhaps controversially, deciding to download their games digitally rather than buy games physically. In 2017, only 21% of game sales were of the physical sort. Nintendo has accommodated the growing number of gamers who would rather buy games from the comfort of their couches rather than mosey to a store or wait for shipping. The eShop puts games at players' fingertips, but in Japan, Nintendo has combined the digital and the physical.

In Japan, you can buy Yoshi's Crafted World in three different forms, all for the same price: the download code, the cartridge in the case, or the download code in the case. That's right, you can have the best of both worlds: the case for your shelf and the download code for your Switch. This does mean that those who can't decide between the physical or digital experience will have to either order online or go to a store, but it's nice to have options. However, some players don't see the point in receiving the box but not the cartridge, just as others don't see the point in getting a case in the first place. In America, there will be no such deliberation because there is only either the physical or the digital purchase, with no in-between.

The demo is out, the game releases March 29

After building up hype at 2017's E3, Yoshi's Crafted World was at long last given the solid release date of March 29, 2019, starting a year of highly anticipated of Nintendo titles off right. The demonstration of the game at E3, which didn't even have a full title at the time, was just as impressive and impressively adorable as the full version is shaping up to be. Players were able to get their first taste of the cutesy, diorama-esque world, and its less polished flipside wherein tons of secrets hide.

Now, players still on the cardboard-cutout fence as to whether or not Yoshi's Crafted World is a worthy buy can try the game out for themselves. At a February Nintendo Direct, it was announced that there would be a demo available for players for free until the release of the full game at the end of the next month. The demo allows for players to get that same experience on the soda can train that players back at 2017's E3 did, but now with the knowledge that a whole crafted world is waiting for them.

What the critics are saying about Yoshi's Crafted World

Whether you're here for the platforming, Nintendo's stunning art direction, or both, the odds are good that you'll enjoy your time with Yoshi's Crafted World. Don't take our word for it, though. Here's what critics from around the internet are saying about the game.

IGN's Tom Marks: "Yoshi's Crafted World is an engaging and charming platformer that is absolutely worth playing, but it misses a clear opportunity to be more than that by not taking full advantage of its most clever ideas." Score: 7.8/10

USgamer's Nadia Oxford: "The visuals in Yoshi's Crafted World speak for themselves. Every corner you turn presents something new to wonder at. The game's a bit on the easy side, but that's not necessarily a bad thing if you accept Yoshi titles are more about exploration and collecting than serious platforming. It's a great little 'spring game' that should fill out your Switch library nicely." Score: 4/5

Destructoid's Chris Carter: "Most of my journey through the wonderful cardboard universe of Yoshi's Crafted World, littered with myriad ridiculous noises from Yoshi, was spent with a smile on my face. It's not the type of project that's going to set the world on fire like Tropical Freeze, but it still has more heart than most studios could ever hope to give in their lifetime." Score: 7.5/10

Nintendo Life's Gavin Lane: "So, if you're looking to share a light-hearted platformer with the family, or simply relax in a big chair with a cup of something warm and a comfy pair of socks, be sure to have a spare pair ready –- Yoshi's Crafted World will charm the ones you're wearing right off." Score: 8/10

Twinfinite's Greysun Morales: "Yoshi's Crafted World is a treat to play and is highly recommended for any Yoshi fan out there, even for the ones who skipped out the most recent entries. Believe me, this may look cute, but Crafted World may fall into being one of the most entertaining and visually appealing games that the Switch has to offer." Score: 4/5

VentureBeat's Mike Minotti: "Yoshi's Crafted World may be a good fit for young children or other gamers interested in the cute-factor. But as someone who prefers more fast-paced side-scrollers, I was too bored to let the clever, crafted world put a smile on my face. This is yet another Yoshi game that doesn't come close to reaching Yoshi's Island greatness." Score: 65/100

The Verge's Andrew Webster: "Really, what Yoshi's Crafted World does is show the importance of a well-defined world. The game itself is delightful in many respects, unremarkable in others, but greatly enhanced by the detailed space it takes place in. I kept playing because it was fun, yes, but I was more interested in simply seeing more of the clever handcrafted objects that Nintendo's designers came up with. The hardest part of the game is picking what to wear."