Something strange has happened to Woolly World! A yarn ball has unraveled in a distant thread of the Woollyverse, causing Woolly World to shift platforms all the way to the 3DS! As if being pulled by a string, we have arrived on a different gaming system. This new atmosphere has all the same levels with some slight changes in the weather, and brand new 3D depth. Poochy has also joined as a full-time friend, and Yoshi is now ready to have more fun than ever.
My straight up first impression of this port was AMAZING. I have played a ton of this game on Wii U and did not expect the 3DS game to impress me graphically after that, but they pulled off some magic. I’ve been playing on a New 3DS and the added 60fps framerate is a dream. It makes the game look so smooth and also the controls feel better. This game is a technical masterpiece on both the Wii U and 3DS, a rare feat for any port. They clearly put a lot of effort into this. I’ve already reviewed this game on Wii U here, so this writeup will mostly be about changes to the 3DS version.
3D depth is more than an obligation in this game, it creates magical moments in stages I thought I had seen everything in. String hangs at different distances, Shy Guys take naps in your face, and enemies fly into the screen when you eat them and discard their woolly corpse. The boss fights also look incredible as they jump around the background, it feels like a living diorama. If you’re not a fan of 3D, there’s still new effects to see like shimmering in the water and an overall clear image quality to admire. This isn’t really evident in the screenshots but in motion it’s a dream, 3D slider up or down.
I played a few levels with my Old 3DS (the save file remains the same) and the image quality is still good but wow, the framerate took a huge hit. If you’re unsure framerate means anything to you, this is the perfect game to test if you have both an Old and New 3DS. The difference is very clear. I still found the controls really responsive on the Old 3DS despite the framerate dip, but it just feels so perfect on New 3DS. It’s also easier to scan amiibo in there without needing the attachment. You just sit Poochy’s butt on the screen while he looks up at you with his big dumb happy face. I love my Poochy amiibo.
Poochy Dash is the biggest new addition in gameplay content. Poochy runs automatically through 6 stages with multiple paths and objectives. Normally auto-runners don’t impress me much but this feels amazing at 60fps and Poochy has different jump heights that add depth to the route you take. The timing and height of your jump makes a huge difference. The levels have an impressive amount of detail from a graphical standpoint too, with more objects than some regular levels and great attention to detail. Rather than re-using Yoshi levels, they put a lot of work into crafting these to make them feel brand new.
Scanning my Poochy amiibo did not change the level at all, but added a time challenge goal to beat. Not a big deal, just an extra reason to replay the level with no mistakes. Another challenge involves getting a high score with beads, and something to keep in mind is that the pups will increase your score, giving you additional fireworks at the end if you save them. Plus, they are adorable.
Yay! Poochy Pups are just the cutest little things. Look at that happy Poochy family.
Ooooooh hang on, what’s that? A notification?! Quiet everyone. It’s that time! Yoshi Theatre is showing a brand new video.
Welcome to the Yoshi Theatre. This is a brand new place that shows a new animated video every day. There’s no other requirement to unlock these, other than showing up. It’s a delightful reason to boot up the game each day because these are so high quality. I enjoyed both the animation work and the humour. Yoshi and Poochy get up to a lot of mischief and have fun with everyday objects like staplers, clocks and pencils. There’s some pretty creative scenarios and every single one is charming. A new Yoshi video could make your day for an entire month. I love having these on my 3DS.
Another pleasant addition is something we could always use more of; more Yoshis! All the newest Amiibo are compatible with their own designs, like Street Fighter Yoshi and Waluigi Yoshi. More significantly there is a custom Yoshi designer which pretty much lets you design what you want. If you feel intimidated by creating, there’s an Easy and Pro mode even in this Yoshi creator. This game goes to great lengths to be accessible, and I think anyone can create a Yoshi with a bit of experimentation. It’s fun to try even if you are a crap designer like me. There’s a lot of great designs on the Miiverse too like Banjo Yoshi.
I’ve heard some people say that the world map has been “downgraded” in Poochy & Yoshi but I disagree strongly with that. The map does not have 3D movement anymore but it’s more functional. It’s faster to get to levels, with levels appearing in a straight line similar to the handheld Mario games. I never understood the point of the 3D overworld in Woolly World on Wii U and it just made everything take longer.
The world map is still comfy, and now it’s functional and fast too. You can instantly pick a level by tapping it on the touch screen and Yoshi will sprint in that direction at the speed of Poochy (very fast). I have also noticed less loading when entering levels, I’d say about 12 seconds instead of 20-25 in the Wii U game. A result of cartridges, less texture detail to load, or just better optimisation with more time to work on it? Who knows, but the result is clear. The touch screen also allows you to select badges instantly, instead of a scrolling menu in the Wii U game. All of these small UI improvements come together to make this game feel a lot more welcoming. The speedrun might be quicker than 6 hours now. Poochy & Yoshi for Summer Games Done Quick please.
So what’s missing from the Wii U version then? It clearly has more power in a home console setting and I noticed a few things missing. The first most obvious one was known ever since they showed the first gameplay footage, the ground doesn’t sink under Yoshi’s feet anymore. I thought this was no big deal until I went back to the Wii U one, and it felt AMAZING to see the ground do that. The Wii U game is much comfier on Yoshi’s feet and will always have that wow-factor. Another action Yoshi doesn’t do on 3DS is push up against walls with his hands. Instead he’ll do the “running into walls forever” animation now, like a clumsy Resident Evil character.
Run Yoshi run! On Wii U he would try to push walls and grunt with determination, but now he’s a bit oblivious. When finding secrets though, he DOES push those woolly objects in with his hands. So while the game is missing graphical effects, all the gameplay-related interactions are still there. It does a good job of hiding the graphical weaknesses. If I played this version first I wouldn’t even know what was missing.
Co-op is probably the biggest strength of the Wii U version that is absent from 3DS, pretty self-explanatory. I felt like the gyro aiming was better on Wii U as well, since it is harder to tilt the entire 3DS than a Wiimote. Most people didn’t use that anyway, but I can only talk about my experience. My shots are faster in the Wii U version, but the platforming feels better on 3DS.
The music has changed just a bit. It mostly uses the same compositions but the arrangements are slightly different for this small speaker. For example the bass line in Sponge Cave Spelunky is less pronounced, and it focuses on the rhythm aspects instead which still sounds surprisingly good. Only the Wii U is powerful enough for that bass line it seems. I mentioned this on Twitter and the composer of Yoshi’s Woolly World, Tomoya Tomita, retweeted me. I’ll take that as a confirmation the songs are different and he is proud of the work he put into optimising them. It’s nice when people notice things.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is an amazing game. I’m so glad I got Poochy & Yoshi, not just for the new content and presentation, but because it reminded me how damn good this game is. I consider it a masterpiece and it the best Yoshi game ever made, whether you play it on 3DS or Wii U. I’m so glad it takes advantage of both platforms so kids buying it on 3DS will still be blown away by it. Even knowing the levels, I spent almost an hour in some of them just getting all the collectibles again. It’s a very BIG game full of secrets and fun. Woolly World is truly a special place that deserves to become a franchise, and should be played by anybody who enjoys 2D platformers, good game mechanics, Nintendo polish, and cute things.