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Yoshi’s Crafted World Is Simply Delightful

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It’s pretty fair to say Yoshi’s done a decent job of holding his own in the near-30 years since helping his plumber pal inaugurate the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990’s Super Mario World. Although there have been some misfires over the years (we’re aiming our Super Scope at you, Yoshi’s Safari), the friendly green dino has been on a particularly good role lately, starring in solid platformers for Nintendo’s last two consoles: 2015’s Yoshi’s Woolly World for Wii U and now, Yoshi’s Crafted World for Switch.

Is the latter game a lot like the former? You bet. But it also improves on everything that worked so well the first time around. A lot of folks missed out on Yoshi’s Woolly World due to its relatively underplayed console, so Nintendo could’ve easily put a smile on gamers’ faces simply by porting over that title to the Switch. Instead, they delivered a whole new adventure.

In the spirit of Kirby’s Epic Yarn (which was recently re-released on the 3DS) and Yoshi’s Woolly World, Yoshi’s Crafted World is a fairly friendly platformer that’s more about taking in sights and collecting goodies than dodging hazards. If you’re looking to repeatedly get your butt handed to you, go play Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. I’m getting stressed just thinking about those later stages, which are no tropical breeze (did I actually just write that?). Crafted World’s laid-back difficulty is a good thing for many reasons. It allows you to take things slow and enjoy the game’s delightful scenery and snazzy designs. Whereas Epic Yarn and Woolly World used knitting yarn in myriad ingenious ways, Crafted World creates a cardboard diorama playground that pushes the inventiveness even further. Almost every object sticks to the game’s recycled articles aesthetic, and the result makes for one of the most charming titles on the Switch, which is saying something.

Gameplay is where things do feel a tad too undercooked. I’ll give Crafted World credit for being a fresh journey, but there are very few elements that distinguish it from Woolly World, which arrived four years ago. Yoshi’s consistently cutesy visuals make sense, but the game’s on-the-rails platforming is less than envelope-pushing. While each level offers the opportunity to be re-visited from right to left in search of insanely adorable Poochy Pups, it’s essentially the same thing but backwards. There are also several moments that make use of the game’s depth-of-field perspective, but they’re somewhat insubstantial. Both additions are very welcome, but tease something that could’ve either been featured more prominently or fleshed out slightly better. For someone who hasn’t played a brand-new Yoshi side-scroller since 2014’s Yoshi’s New Island on the 3DS or even 1998’s Yoshi’s Story on the Nintendo 64, Crafted World  is a vastly improved successor.

Like previous Yoshi entries, finishing a stage doesn’t guarantee story progression.  In order to move forward you’ll need to collect Smiley Flowers, which can be found throughout each level or earned by nabbing 100 golden coins (easy peasy), finishing a level with all your hearts (not so easy peasy), and finding all 20 hidden red coins (increasingly challenging). Additionally, there are unique missions that’ll have you returning to older stages in order to complete small tasks that generally involve spitting eggs at stuff. You also have the option to play with a friend or even in friendly Mellow Mode, which allows Yoshi to flutter in the air infinitely and take less damage.

There’s a lot more fun to be had than simply playing through the main story, which sees Yoshi racing against Kamek and Baby Bowser to retrieve six Dream Gems that those miscreants sent flying across the cardboard cut-out world. Between stages you can visit gumball (gumegg?) machines throughout the map to trade in 100 coins for the chance to win one of 10 amusing cardboard costumes. If you’ve got any amiibo laying around, those will also hook you up with a costume. While these costumes unfortunately don’t grant Yoshi unique abilities, they do offer extra damage protection based on how rare they are. The best thing about costumes is that they’re so darn cute, and cuteness is definitely the name of this game.

Yoshie’s Crafted World is out March 29 exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Check out the trailer below.