Even though Yoshi is one of the best things about the Mario franchise, our green dinosaur friend is often times relegated to the role of sidekick. Every once in a while, though, Yoshi gets to star in a game of his (its?) own, starting with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island way back in the days of the SNES. Since then, a variety of games starring Yoshi have been launched for various Nintendo platforms, most recently with Yoshi’s Crafted World on the Nintendo Switch.
I’ve been fond of most of the Yoshi games released throughout the years, or at least the ones I’ve played. Yoshi’s Island, of course, is a classic, and even though Yoshi’s Story on the N64 can certainly be accused of being too easy, it was still a fun game for 11-year-old me. More recently, it seems Nintendo has been trying to separate its Yoshi titles from the rest of the Super Mario Bros series, using them as a vehicle for platforming ideas that might be a little too out there for Nintendo’s flagship franchise.
We saw this happen in both 2015’s Yoshi’s Woolly World and now Yoshi’s Crafted World. I never had the chance to play Yoshi’s Woolly World when it came out, but I have been spending a good amount of time with Yoshi’s Crafted World lately. Yoshi’s Crafted World is a game that is unsurprising in a lot of ways, as it sticks with a lot of the mechanics and conventions that have appeared in previous Yoshi titles.
You’re still throwing eggs at enemies, collecting smiling flowers, and flutter jumping your way to the end of the stages in Yoshi’s Crafted World. Nothing about the core mechanics of the Yoshi series has changed too dramatically in the jump to the Switch. The big differentiator is the arts and crafts aesthetic that makes the entire game look like the creation of a young child with imagination to spare.
The way that game uses its aesthetic is often very charming. Set pieces cut from cardboard hang from wire in the background and can often reveal hidden items when you throw an egg at them. Yoshi can wear a collection of costumes made out of different arts and crafts materials (which you acquire by spending the coins you collect as you play), and the stages are made out of simple things like boxes and paper. Yoshi’s Crafted World is a happy, almost relaxing place to be, and the game itself looks beautiful.
Lending to that pleasant, relaxing feel is the fact that the stages can again be a bit on the easy side, at least at the start. I found myself coasting through some of the game’s earlier levels with ease, though in fairness, the difficulty did begin to ramp up a little bit in the later stages. Yoshi’s Crafted World definitely isn’t what I would call a hard game, but there are certainly some parts that require precise platforming or timing and might give genre veterans at least a little bit of trouble.
Still, I’m willing to overlook that because this is clearly a game meant primarily for children, and making things too difficult right off the bat would be frustrating for a kid who may be new to platformers or video games altogether. Even for players who have been around the block a few times, there’s challenge to be found in Yoshi’s Crafted World, even if the stages themselves aren’t all that difficult to make it through.
I’m talking, of course, about the game’s many collectibles. In every stage, you’re tasked with collecting a certain amount of flowers, but you’re also given bonus flowers for collecting normal coins, red coins, and finishing the stage with full hearts. You’ll often find that you well exceed the amount of normal coins required for an extra flower, and while it can sometimes be tricky finishing a stage with full health, that’s easy enough too, especially if you’re wearing a costume, which acts similar to armor and can absorb a few hits before breaking.
Collecting all of the red coins and flowers that are hidden throughout each stage on your first go, however, is going to be a challenge, and it was a very rare occurrence for me. If you want to be a completionist about the whole thing, you’ll either be revisiting levels multiple times or you’ll be spending a lot of time on your first run through looking for secrets, whether those are destructible panels that blend into the background or hidden paths that aren’t immediately obvious.
You’ll want to collect as many flowers as you can too, because they’re used to progress through the game. You’ll need to pay a certain amount of flowers each time you try to access a new area of the world map, so you can’t just speed through the levels in Yoshi’s Crafted World without doing at least some searching. If you’re short on flowers, you can play each stage again in flip side mode, which has you running from the end of a level back to the beginning as fast as you can, finding hidden Poochy Pups as you go.
So, in a way, flip side levels are sort of like time trial collectathons, and it’s another way that Yoshi’s Crafted World offers challenge to those who want more out of the standard levels. Completing flip side levels isn’t exactly a challenging task, but finding all of the Poochy Pups as quickly as possible can be, and I thought they were a nice twist that helps the game stand out from its predecessors even more. At the very least, flip side levels are a neat idea in that they let you see the levels you’ve already completed from a different perspective, and honestly, they’re worth playing through for that reason alone.
Yoshi’s Crafted World also has a co-op mode that allows another player to control a second Yoshi à la New Super Mario Bros. I honestly haven’t spent much time playing the game in co-op, but I enjoyed the time that I did, and it helps make the often serene stages a little bit more hectic. It’d be particularly useful for siblings who would otherwise fight over the Switch, or as a way mom or dad to play along without just having to sit and watch.
Aside from the difficulty, the only real complaint I have about Yoshi’s Crafted World is the music. While previous Yoshi games – Yoshi’s Island in particular – have had very memorable music that still gets stuck in my head to this day, the music in Yoshi’s Crafted World is generally just forgettable. I understand what Nintendo was going for with the soundtrack, but it isn’t my cup of tea. I don’t think I’m alone in that camp either, as Nintendo titles are known at least in part for their catchy tunes. I definitely missed that in Yoshi’s Crafted World.
Yoshi’s Crafted World is a really solid platformer that looks great but maybe won’t satisfy older fans who have been playing platformers for years, at least not at first. Still, it’s a very charming game, and if you don’t care about difficulty but you fawn over good design, it’s probably worth picking up. I think a lot of the puzzles you’ll encounter are well crafted, and the way many of the game’s secrets are hidden throughout its stages is definitely very clever.
If you’re buying this game primarily for a child to play, then I think it’s a slam dunk. If I were 25 years younger, I would have been enamored with Yoshi’s Crafted World from the moment I started it up. I still kind of am enamored with Yoshi’s Crafted World, just not in the way a child who hasn’t had their sense of wonder trampled by the real world yet would be.
I don’t think Yoshi’s Crafted World quite makes it into the realm of must-haves and games of the year, but it’s nonetheless a good platformer that will definitely make you smile at least a few times while playing it. In the end, isn’t that all anyone really needs?