Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World



Nin­tendo might in­sist Switch isn’t a re­place­ment for 3DS, but at first glance Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World seems like the sort of game that would only be re­leased on hard­ware in its twi­light. Then again, in a few months Don­key Kong Coun­try Re­turns 3D will be four years old. Con­sider Su­per Mario Maker, too – not just a way to squeeze more from ex­ist­ing as­sets, but an op­por­tu­nity to reach a wider au­di­ence than it ever could on a lan­guish­ing home con­sole. This sits some­where be­tween those two: it’s a lit­tle more than a com­pro­mised port, though its ex­tra fea­tures are un­likely to make Wii U own­ers feel like they’re miss­ing out.

The in­evitable vis­ual down­grade has a less de­bil­i­tat­ing ef­fect than you might ex­pect. The orig­i­nal may have been sold on its hand­crafted aes­thetic, but Good-Feel has re­tained much of the tac­tile plea­sure of your in­ter­ac­tions with it, whether it be ty­ing up or un­rav­el­ling en­e­mies or push­ing against soft walls and watch­ing them wrin­kle as they re­veal a cache of hid­den gems. Yes, some of the sub­tler de­tails are ab­sent – the light­ing is markedly flat­ter, for starters – but the 3D ef­fect helps with the il­lu­sion of so­lid­ity.

It also shifts the fo­cus to­wards the game it­self. The level design is more di­verse than we re­mem­ber: a pleas­ant side ef­fect, per­haps, of be­ing less dis­tracted by the su­per­fi­cial samey­ness. One stage, where a wire­frame Chain Chomp be­comes a woollen wreck­ing ball, is a mi­nor clas­sic. In the fi­nal world, the same idea is clev­erly re­pur­posed as deadly Boos be­come harm­less bal­loons car­ry­ing you to higher plat­forms. Cur­tains be­come a mode of trans­port on one stage, shoot­ing across rails as if tugged by an im­pa­tient, in­vis­i­ble hand, as you shimmy up and down to snag col­lectibles; later, spec­tral drapes glide by to re­veal plat­forms in sil­hou­ette, turn­ing float­ing wisps into hun­gry, de­monic nas­ties.

The new ma­te­rial is cute but inessen­tial. Spe­cial gems that once yielded Mi­iverse stamps now un­lock pat­terns with which you can craft your own Yoshi design. Poochy gets a small se­lec­tion of auto-run­ner stages that feel like a dry run for a po­ten­tial iOS spinoff. And three pups give the Mel­low dif­fi­culty set­ting even more of a se­date Sun­day-af­ter­noon feel, as they pro­vide a source of in­fi­nite ammo while bind­ing nearby en­e­mies and high­light­ing se­crets – though their beady eyes make them look more sin­is­ter than adorable. It’s still a re­minder that Nin­tendo is too of­ten teth­ered to its past – in Yoshi’s trans­for­ma­tions alone, Good-Feel bor­rows from its own Kirby’s Epic Yarn as well as New Su­per Mario Bros – but this cosy, like­able plat­former gives 3DS play­ers a su­pe­rior al­ter­na­tive to Arzest’s in­sipid New Is­land.

Maybe it’s sim­ply bet­ter suited to a hand­held, but the game seems to move at a slightly brisker pace than in its orig­i­nal guise on Wii U. The knock­about co-op mode of the orig­i­nal is miss­ing here, though

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