When it comes to cute, Nintendo has done well with its consoles over the years. And Sony's Little Big Planet is testament to the fact that yarn inspired creatures have the ability to create a bit of a following. Yoshi's Woolly World takes a much-loved Nintendo character and gives it the Sackboy treatment.
The yoshi’s have been taken by the evil wizard Kamek and returned to yarn form, scattered throughout the different worlds. But a couple managed to escape the spell, and it’s up to them to save their friends.
You can play Woolly World as a solo player or in cooperative two player mode. regardless of your choice, you'll have the same goal: collect the Wonder Wool, save your buddies and defeat the boss levels along the way.
To do this, you’ll need yarn, and lots of it. In this outing, Yoshi uses yarn balls harvested from the surrounding environment to tackle his enemies. He can either hunt them down in baskets dotted around the levels, or he can grab enemies with his tongue and turn them into balls of yarn, carrying five with him for use as he needs them.
Those yarn balls come in useful for tying piranha plants in knots or creating platforms out of basic outlines with a well aimed throw. You can also use them to good effect when collecting gems by making them ricochet off the scenery, sending them careening in another direction.
While it’s reasonably easy to get from one end of the level to the other, it’s collecting the items as you go that will provide you with real challenge. If you fall off a platform or get squashed by an enemy, you’re returned to your last checkpoint. There is no limit to the number of times you can do this, although it can get a bit frustrating to find yourself back at the start over and over.
The big enemies you’re presented with aren’t that difficult to get rid of, and if getting around the levels does prove a little more challenging than you thought, there’s the “mellow mode” that makes things even easier (read: total snoozefest) by giving Yoshi wings and allowing him to fly.
In fact, it was only when I was playing the third level in the first world that I realised there was no time limit involved, and therefore no incentive to get myself to the end as quickly as possible.
So you are concentrating mainly on finding things: secret stashes of gems, hidden entrances and hidden platforms that Yoshi can discover. Collecting the five flowers on each level, for example, will open up a harder level, so it’s worth persevering.
The environments are detailed and cloth inspired from start to finish. Platforms bow, as if they’re really made of material, and hidden areas can be discovered by folding back bits of scenery. There was as much joy in noticing the little details - knitted characters to roll, for example - as there was in making it to the end of the level. Occasionally you’ll stumble on an area that pits you against the clock. It was such a surprise that the first time I failed to notice the clock running down in the corner and didn’t even make it a quarter of the way through. That’s what you get used to: a meandering pace while you hunt out every possible hidden element in the level.
Woolly World has the cute factor alright, but you get out of it what you put in. Make the effort to track down every collectible on the level and you'll be rewarded with a slightly addictive , beautifully crafted game.