The release of Yoshi’s Crafted World triumphantly heralds the eighth main instalment in the Yoshi franchise to date. Much like its predecessor, Wooly World, Crafted World follows suit with another unique visual theme, this time being arts and crafts. There’s a common trend amoung many first-party Nintendo titles, which places focus on gameplay and design above all else, and that’s very much the case this time around, too.
Our simple story begins with our family of Yoshi’s who live on Yoshi’s Island. Under their protection is an artifact known as the Sundream Stone, which possesses the power to make anyone’s wildest dreams come true. With a devious plan to steal the artifact, Kamek and Baby Bowser try to wrestle control away from the Yoshi’s only for all the gems to scatter far and wide across the island. Now, guess who’s going to collect them?!
While we’re not exactly getting “The Grapes of Wrath” tier narrative treatment from Yoshi’s Crafted World, it’s a workable premise which allows you to quickly dive into the game without too much of a wait. On a side note, someone needs to start a security company in the Nintendo universe. Things are always getting stolen, or people getting abducted. They’d make an absolute killing!
As should be expected from Nintendo games, the designs of each level show how intricately detailed they are with interactive elements from start to finish. However, there are two particular design elements which stand out for me above all else. Firstly, Crafted World makes excellent use of the scope AND scale of its levels, making you search both high and low to snatch up the relevant collectibles. From a design perspective, Good-Feel has done a bang-up job of making use of every square inch of their levels and in turn making the player pay attention to them with much more focus.
This quality of level design makes progress through the levels feel less linear, which can be quite a difficult task for a side-scrolling platformer to pull off. Most prominent to the game’s design, though, is the ability to flip levels, which acts as a neat little vehicle to deliver extra game content with collectibles and the “Pup Round-Up”. The collectible element of the game is also enhanced by the availability of Amiibos, with all of them being able to be used in the game. While most of them will merely grant random crafted costumes, any Mario-related Amiibo unlock unique outfits based on the character you’ve used.
For those who are familiar with the recent Yoshi games, much of the core gameplay elements have remained from Crafted World’s predecessors. The one major upgrade that has been made to the gameplay now allows you to throw eggs at the scenery and other objects in the foreground or background. Besides this welcome addition, the primary foundation of gameplay remains much within Nintendo’s wheelhouse, being both strong and slick in its delivery.
Another focal element for those who’re considering playing through Crafted World is that you’re able to play through the multiplayer mode, which sees each player maneuver their own Yoshi through each level simultaneously. This type of multiplayer functionality has been a massive feature of Nintendo’s games for some time and continues to remain as another factor to their games successes through mainstream appeal to traditionally non-gamers.
The artwork for Crafted World is another standout success for me, with the cardboard cut-out and vibrantly designed backdrop providing the perfect setting for the game to unfold before my eyes. Each level has its own unique flavour and atmosphere, which made me pay attention to some of the weird abstract items that could be found such as billboards advertising caramels. Daring to do things just a little differently from the norm, I think Crafted World pulls it off with a substantial level of success.
There isn’t any voice acting in Yoshi’s Crafted World, but the audio tracking still plays a big part in setting the tone for essential gameplay elements and individual situations as they arise. Music is used sparingly throughout the game’s duration for the most part, but it also punctuates important game markers significantly to delineate what separates one event from the next – such as the difference between normal levels and a boss level. When done right, this type of contextualising can be compelling in video games, and I think that Crafted World hits the mark in its aim to express certain emotions/events to players.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing through Yoshi’s Crafted World. It’s smooth to play, easy to pick up and put down while also offering a degree of challenge to those who might be a little rusty in the platformer department. While I don’t think it necessarily does a whole lot in terms of taking the genre to the next level or revolutionising it in any way, what it does do is actively showcase the solid foundations of its predecessors while also making small quality of life improvements to the gameplay. At this stage of the franchise’s development, I think that’s a reasonable place for it to be. I’m also curious to see where the series progresses from here on out, and what future improvements will look like to an already well-rounded bundle of dinosaur shenanigans.