Released for the Switch on March 29, 2019, Yoshi’s Crafted World is the most recent collaboration between Nintendo and Good-Feel, whose partnership goes back to the latter’s 2005 founding. While the studio doesn’t work exclusively with Nintendo, they’ve collaborated on a number of titles between then and now, such as this game’s predecessors: Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Woolly World. Of the common threads that bind these games together, none is more pronounced than the remarkable art design that adapts real-world materials with side-scrolling platforming gameplay. Taking inspiration from crafting in general, this entry features the broadest and most inventive environments of the trio. But the stage design itself, speaking from a gameplay perspective, is the least inspired of the bunch. In writing this review, I had a hard time thinking of stages or sequences that left an impression on me; a far cry from the excellence of the previous games. I still had fun playing Yoshi’s Crafted World cooperatively with a friend, but it didn’t rise to the level of its precursors.
Thinking about the traits that set the previous games apart, and how they influenced my opinions of them… Kirby’s Epic Yarn was notable for subverting classic Kirby gameplay. The pink puff lacked his Copy Ability, which made platforming a little more simplistic than it might otherwise have been, but refreshing in context of the Kirby series as a whole. And the ways in which I interacted with the yarn world Kirby found himself in was inventive and fun. Yoshi’s Woolly World continued down that path with its, well, world made of wool, but conversely, differentiated itself little from its roots. As this was my first experience with the Yoshi series and its egg throwing mechanic, that was fine by me! Besides their crafty art design and the ways in which it impacted stages, both games also shared transformation sequences, which introduced variations to the standard side-scrolling platforming gameplay. With Yoshi’s Crafted World, the developers took the trait of a uniquely interactive world, and expanded it into the game’s biggest gimmick.
The stages of Yoshi’s Crafted World were the most visually diverse of the three games, thanks to its broader crafted aesthetic. Pretty much everything was made of real-world items like cardboard, paper clips, and soda cans. I got a kidlike sense of awe identifying these objects and seeing how they were pieced together to construct the world around our Yoshis. A little ways into our adventure, we got the opportunity to begin playing stages from the “flip side.” The path of the stage was the same, albeit reversed, since we now witnessed it from the opposite perspective. This revealed a little more of how the stages were crafted and with what, while offering a unique set of objectives. Further playing up the depth of the stages, we could now throw eggs at objects in the foreground and background! This was a novel addition, but muddied our egg throwing.
Because we could now target objects on multiple planes, the egg throwing cursor was no longer automatic. When we wanted to throw an egg, we held down the corresponding button and manually aimed. This forced us to plant our feet to throw eggs which slowed down the pace a smidge, and reduced the potential complexity of platforming challenges. Not that these games were challenging us with Kaizo like stages, but still. Occasionally, we’d misfire and throw an egg at something near our target, but on another plane. This was annoying and over time, made us call into question the implementation of multiple planes. It rarely seemed like there was anything worthwhile hidden in the background or foreground. More often than not, we knocked over objects or struck Shy Guys only to be rewarded with coins, which were the lowest rung on the collectible totem pole.
Among the collectibles, flowers were our primary concern. The amount per stage varied, from three to a whopping nine. And besides just finding them, we could also earn a few more from each stage by collecting 100 coins, locating the 20 hidden red coins, and finishing with full health. There were a lot of flowers to collect! We had a lot of fun trying to locate each stage’s in-game flowers, but didn’t take it seriously enough to find everything. With hidden objects newly discoverable in each stage upon completion, and nearly 200 costumes to purchase, plus the flowers, there no shortage of objectives for anyone wanting to achieve 100% completion! In fact, according to HowLongToBeat, that’d take about thirty hours, which was basically four times as long as we spent with the game. Needless to say, the game has a lot of replayability.
I wouldn’t mind playing the game more, either. For one, I really would like to unlock more. I don’t believe we even did any of the flip side stages, since they weren’t required. And we only went back and found one hidden object, when that concept was first introduced. Again, once we realized it was optional, and didn’t offer too much to our playthrough, we passed on further opportunities. Secondly, I’m just interested to play solo, which may provide a tougher experience. Like the stages in the previous games, these were designed to be finished by one person. They weren’t adapted in any way when playing cooperatively, so having a partner made the game easier in some ways. Treacherous jumps weren’t so treacherous when we could close the gap by jumping off each other. And riding the other Yoshi granted unlimited eggs. This was crucial in the myriad of timed target practice challenges we encountered. Eggs weren’t hard to come by per se, but we never gave it a second thought after discovering this. But where did they come from…
As was the case with throwing eggs at targets on multiple planes, riding on each other’s back came with a unique grievance: jumping too near magnetized us together in a discombobulating way. It happened so easily and with such regularity that it grew mildly frustrating. We’d be out of sorts for a second afterwards, both of us almost instantaneously jumping again to break the connection, but humorously getting stuck together again. Nonetheless, this was a fun way to play the game; it practically became the de facto way for us by the game’s end! I’d execute the role of the platformer, taking us through the stage, while my friend would man the turret, so to speak, eliminating foes and obstacles in our way. Nothing could stop us!
Minor complaints, like the way egg throwing was handled across multiple planes, and the proclivity of our characters riding each other when we jumped too near, helped to color my opinion of this game. They weren’t deal-breakers that caused us to quit partway through, but they didn’t compare favorably with the mechanics of the previous games. Furthermore, the stage design in general was a letdown, especially coming off of Yoshi’s Woolly World, which had some really great stages! This game was fun to play in the moment, but I remember more of its window-dressing than specific things we did. On that note, it looked fabulous, easily the best of the bunch from a design or technical standpoint. All things considered, Yoshi’s Crafted World was a pretty good platformer; it just didn’t connect with me the same way its predecessors did.