Yoshi’s Crafted World is a curious game. I mean; it’s a standard Mario (or technically Yoshi) game, so you kind of know what you’re getting into. It starts out as being your standard side-scrolling platformer with the major quirk being that the world is “made” of common everyday materials you’d find at your local craft store. There’s felt, paper, cardboard, tin cans, magnets, and cloth; you name it, it’s probably somewhere in there. But once you peel back the covers and start trying to collect all the things there are to find, the game takes a radical shift and becomes something else entirely. The platforming is generally much less important, and you’re required to stop and smell the roses while you observe the game’s crafted scenery.
Because of this, what your perspective on Yoshi’s Crafted World and its menagerie of materials will likely be about whether you prefer a game to be about form or function.
Nintendo of America graciously provided us with a review code for Yoshi’s Crafted World.
An egg-cellent adventure
As is the case in practically every Mario or Yoshi game to date, the story is essentially window dressing, so let’s get it out of the way. A troupe of eight Yoshis is protecting the Sundream Stone, a semi-sentient hunk of rock with five gems attached to it with the power to grant wishes. Kamek the Magikoopa is taking Baby Bowser out for a daytime stroll, and they hatch a plan to steal it. In the ensuing tussle, the five Dream Gems get scattered, and it’s up to Yoshi to get them back. After selecting your favorite colored Yoshi, you immediately begin your adventure.
Yoshi’s Crafted World is by and large broken up into three acts plus an epilogue. In the first act, you set out on a linear path that will take you — through eight stages and a boss — to the first Dream Gem. Once completed, you jump into the second act, where you can “choose” your own path to acquire the next three Dream Gems in whichever order you like. I say “choose” here because you still will end up going through practically (if not actually) every stage to get all three, and there’s no advantage to picking one path first over another, but I suppose getting a choice of order is something. Finally, the last act progresses linearly once more towards the last Dream Gem and the inevitable final battle with Kamek and Baby Bowser. As for the epilogue, we’ll cover that later.
The mechanics of the game will feel familiar if you’ve ever played any Yoshi game before. You basically have four main actions you can do. The first is to flutter jump. After jumping, holding the jump button will allow you to hover in the air for a brief bit; what’s more is that you can flutter jump pretty much indefinitely, practically holding altitude with successive flutters. Secondly, you can eat most of the enemies in the game, and most of them will cause you to lay eggs. Thirdly, you can ground pound, slamming down posts and squashing enemies below. And lastly, you can hurl your eggs at practically whatever you want.
I came into the Yoshi franchise via Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island from way back on the SNES. So by and large, all of the controls felt extremely intuitive to me… all of them, that is, except for the egg tossing, one of the fundamentals of the franchise. Throughout the franchise, egg tossing was essentially a timing game; once you pressed (or held) the button to throw an egg, a reticle appeared and started moving up and down, forcing you to time your shot according to what angle you wanted to throw your egg. However, in Crafted World, the reticle doesn’t move. Instead, you have to manually aim the reticle onto the target you want to hit.
The reason for this change is largely by design. In Crafted World, items in both the foreground and background — even though they’re blurred out — can be targeted and hit. The timing game from previous games would make hitting those things, well, impossible. So the developers changed the mechanics of egg tossing to accommodate this. Personally, I think this makes the game worse for the wear. Firstly, eggs ricochet off of angles, allowing for trick shots. However, there aren’t any trick shots that need to be made in Crafted World, making the original mechanic rather useless. Secondly, because you use the left stick to aim, you can’t move while you’re aiming a shot. One of the things I loved about Yoshi’s Island was being forced to toss an egg while under pressure from enemies or the environment; there were instances in the game where you’d need to aim an egg while running or precariously flutter jumping in mid-air. While you can aim a shot in mid-air, jumping while targeting cancels the reticle. In general, this makes a lot of the moment-to-moment gameplay much less difficult. Finally, to finish it off, the fact that items are hidden in the background and foreground make Yoshi’s Crafted World something of a glorified scavenger hunt.
It’s like finding all the Easter eggs
Why do I call Crafted World a scavenger hunt? Well, the Yoshi games have always had some element of collectibles, dating all the way back to Yoshi’s Island. Historically, in each stage in the previous games are hidden a set of flowers and several secret red coins inside them. To truly 100% the game, you needed to find every single one. Crafted World has this concept as well (although it exists for a slightly different reason than it did in previous games). What makes this game so much like a scavenger hunt is that many of the red coins or triggers to make flowers appear are hidden in the foreground, in the background, or, worst of all, behind objects in the background.
Do you want to get every last reward in the game? Then you need to get every item in every stage. That means you’ll need to collect a ton of eggs and start hitting everything in sight to see if there’s a secret behind it. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s not too far off the mark. It might sound fun at first, but I got bored of it quickly; I started to feel that the “challenge” was because I needn’t be so much skilled as I needed to be observant. After a while, I more or less stopped going out of my way for the collectibles.
Unfortunately, the collectibles aren’t just pointless completionism. Instead of being like their Yoshi’s Island and Yoshi’s Woolly World counterparts, where getting 100% on a set of levels unlocks a super difficult bonus stage, Crafted World instead gates progression based on the number of flowers you have. In each stage, there are a number of flowers to collect, and you can get bonus flowers for collecting 100 coins in a level, finding all 20 red coins, completing the stage with full health, locating Poochy’s lost pups, or going on a literal scavenger hunt to find so many random objects in a level. After every two or three stages, you’ll be required to part of your stockpile of flowers, usually 10 to 20, to unlock the next two or three levels. Thankfully during my playthrough, I never needed to go back to previous stages to farm for more flowers to unlock these gates; there’s more than plenty to find to play all the levels in the main acts.
The levels are over easy, not hard-boiled
And while finding enough flowers is easy enough a task, it’s also a fairly easy task to not die. Yoshi’s life is measured in hearts. Hit an enemy, and Yoshi will lose some of them. You can pick up more as you play each level, of course, and getting to the end with a full 20 should be hard, you might think.
However, in order to tone down the difficulty, you can have Yoshi don a costume after winning one from a gumball machine. Each costume grants you an extra three to five free hits without touching your heart total, and so long as you don’t run out costume hit points (i.e., break the costume), these costume hit points refresh at every level midpoint. Even falling into a bottomless pit will just reset you with one costume point worse for the wear. I suppose these costumes are there for the younger generation to make the game more compatible for them, so if you want to ramp up the challenge factor, make sure not to wear any.
If you want to ramp up the challenge factor, make sure not to wear costumes. Each costume grants you three to five free hits.
So I haven’t talked about the epilogue yet. In previous Yoshi games, there are more difficult bonus stages that can be unlocked by collecting all the things within a world. In Crafted World, these special stages exist as post-game content. To unlock them, you’ll need to beat the game and then have collected enough leftover flowers to unlock each stage one at a time. The unlock cost for each stage is fairly hefty though. The challenge stages are, I’ll be honest, actually challenging. Falling into a pit will outright kill you instead of simply resetting you, so there’s that.
While the special stages are difficult, they’re also short — much shorter than the levels in the main game. As a result, much of the actual challenge of the stages isn’t in the process of actually clearing it but instead clearing it with all of the flowers and coins in tow. These stages are about attrition, giving you just the number of eggs you need to get your flowers and coins and not many more. The game only provides three bonus stages and one bonus boss, so it’s not much, but you’ll definitely spend a bit more time if you’re going for full completion.
Yoshi’s Crafted World is form over function
Graphically though, the game is really charming. I have to admit that I smiled a lot in this game, often simply by realizing that, “Oh, that monkey is actually just drawn on a tin can.” It sounds absolutely silly, but the graphical style has a lot going for it. Even in handheld mode, which is how I played most of the game, the game is beautiful and plays fluidly. I actually can’t find any real faults with the graphical presentation.
The music, however, I can’t say the same thing about. I honestly didn’t like much of it, especially most of the recurring themes. The music I believe is intended to have this hokey, ragtag sort of vibe to it. However, to me it just feels overly cute and occasionally off-pitch, so I found that I was frequently turning down the volume to give my ears a break. Maybe you’ll feel differently when you play it, but I found it all fairly unmemorable.
All in all, Yoshi’s Crafted World is a good game. It’s not the best Yoshi game on the block, but it’s also not the worst either. It’s competent at everything it does, and it has an accessibility which means it can be played by children and adults alike. However, if you’re seeking challenge, you’ll need to either find another game or add some “house rules” to yourself to spice the game up to your liking. It’s cute and charming, but it’s not the cleverest Yoshi or Mario title. How much you’ll like it depends upon what exactly you want from the game.
|Score||Similarity to other YOSHIS|
|8/10||Yoshi’s Woolly World – ★★★★☆
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island – ★★★☆☆
Yoshi’s Island DS – ★★☆☆☆