Yoshi's Crafted World Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
The life of a Yoshi seems to be pretty sweet when Mario isn't around. During one such peaceful time, we find an iconic green Yoshi surrounded by a multitude of multi-coloured friends as they look after the Sundream Stone. It's a legendary stone set atop the highest peak of Yoshi's island, said to grant one's wildest wishes. With a treasure so full of promise, it's no surprise that Baby Bowser and his henchman, the wizard Kamek, are soon tempted to try and steal the stone for themselves. As Yoshi's cling to one end of the Sundream Stone and our resident evil doers pull at the other, the stone breaks and rains five gleaming gemstones on the various neighborhoods of a mysterious new land. The race is on to collect the gems before Baby Bowser's wildest dreams can come true!
What's most immediately striking about Yoshi's Crafted World are it's visuals. Vivid, bright and perfectly designed as they are, the landscapes you travel around are simply beautiful. With handicrafts inspiring everything about the game's appearance, each and every piece of scenery looks like it's been cut from colourful paper, baked to perfection or plucked straight out of a lush, green back garden. Even the Yoshi's, Baby Bowser and Kamek look like they've been lovingly crafted from soft felt.
Your brave band of Yoshi's will journey through a wide variety of lands, each inspired by a specific concept. Arriving at a new level, you're presented with a lovely unfolding animation as a papercraft diorama unveils itself and hints at what's to come. Some levels are focused on more mundane inspirations, such as the railway inspired Sunshine Station and nautically inclined Yarrctopus Docks, while others venture into the realms of fantasy, with Pastel Pathway's selection of delicious looking sweet treats in particular standing out as a glutton's dream.
Each level in Yoshi's Crafted World unfurls and reveals itself as you pass through it, with sections of wall falling away to reveal hidden coins and collectibles and platforms shuddering before revealing themselves to be rolls of paper. At times areas come close to being Rube Goldberg machines, with sections of scenery knocking into each other, providing new routes forward or into the background or foreground of the screen. Effective depth of field effects highlight the transition between each plane beautifully, punctuating the already impressive visuals and highlighting one of the major changes to Yoshi's previous gameplay formula.
The inclusion of a foreground and background in what is otherwise a completely 2D platformer adds some interesting potential for level design, potential which has been seized upon in Nintendo's usual style by pushing it to it's logical conclusion. Secrets abound, hidden behind pieces of scenery that Yoshi can knock down with a well aimed egg. Background elements will travel with you across a level at times, entering your particular plane when their route joins yours. Poochie, the vaguely dog like creature featured in previous Yoshi games, returns and can be seen keeping pace and bashing his way through the backgrounds of the levels they're part of. It's a small element, but it adds to the already charming effort that Yoshi's Crafted World puts into it's presentation.
Similarly to previous Yoshi focused games, you're capable of using a variety of abilities that by now will be familiar to many. Yoshi can eat enemies and extrude eggs to aim and launch at the threats and scenery that blocks their path. Leaping into the air, Yoshi can flutter their feet and push back the forces of gravity to hover for a moment, this time in an almost unlimited manner. Continuous fluttering makes for some forgiving platforming, but wont spare thoughtless players from an occasional plunge off the bottom of the screen. While airborne, Yoshi can slam their whole weight down, crushing more sturdy enemies and occasionally revealing aspects of levels that are hidden behind pressure pads or even smashing through the floor itself.
Yoshi's Crafted World offers up a multiplayer mode that's perhaps one of the most appealing co-op platforming experiences I've ever had. Rather than getting in each other's way or otherwise struggling to find enough to do on a given screen for both players to be engaged, adding an extra player does nothing but offer new options. When one Yoshi jumps on another they become more powerful, churning out an infinite number of eggs for the rider to aim and fire. If the mounted Yoshi jumps up, the rider can leap off of their back to reach even higher heights. It allows for a different approach to problems, where saving eggs and finding routes to high spots can be a challenge in single player, multiplayer makes way for egg spamming and far easier route finding. You can always separate and play as normal, together, but the combined power of your Yoshi's makes for a great way to engage new gamers or those who might be more interested in firing eggs than jumping from platform to platform, or vice-versa.
Musically, Yoshi's Crafted World follows the trend set by Nintendo in more recent times of establishing a solid melody for the entire game and then using the specific theme of each level to punctuate that same tune with fresh instrumentation and occasional variation. Thankfully, with so few distinct tunes, the core anthem is incredibly catchy and the variations on it all serve to hammer home the intended tone of each level. Sound, across the board, is endearing and pretty much ideal, with Yoshi's trademark yelps, groans and self referential cries of "Yoshi" all sounding better than ever.
With numerous goals and deviously hidden red coins to collect and challenges ranging from finishing levels without losing health, right through to spotting and hitting particular pieces of scenery set alongside it's enticing visuals, Yoshi's Crafted World is jam packed with enough highly polished content to justify its price tag and fill the Nintendo shaped hole in the hearts of platformer fans.