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Yoshi's Crafted World Review: Gameplay Impressions, Videos and Speedrunning Tips

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2019

Nintendo

Yoshi returns to the spotlight for his first foray on to the Nintendo Switch in Yoshi's Crafted World.  

As Nintendo diehards could have guessed, Yoshi's debut on a new stage is creative, charming and, at times, jaw-dropping, if not a little on the easy side of the scale.

He's not Mario, Luigi, Link, Samus or any other first guesses when asked to name a major Nintendo star, so it isn't surprising the egg-throwing green friend is back and capturing attention in unique ways. 

And it doesn't get much more unique than this: a side-scrolling platformer with innovative 3D elements and replayability with the visual pop of a papercraft table come to life. It's an ideal extension of the last time fans saw Yoshi in a starring role on the Wii U with Yoshi's Woolly World, the memorable yarn-based affair. 

A visual treat and as simple or completionist as a player needs it to be, Yoshi's return to prominence is another standout release for the Switch. 

       

Gameplay and Presentation

The craft-inspired universe of Yoshi's Crafted World is one of the best-looking games of this console cycle. Period. 

There isn't any hyperbole here. Some will say this isn't the preferred style, but few will be able to look at this game and say it isn't drop-dead gorgeous. 

Crafted World squeezes every bit of graphical juice out of the Switch, and, presumably, every drop of creativity out of the folks who put it all together. The whole presentation looks like a heartfelt cardboard construction a kid made, in a good way. 

It's hard not to get distracted. Yoshi's so detailed even his skin gleams. The stitching in dogs he encounters has high fidelity. Light reflects off the eggs he collects and throws. Little details, like a milk carton in the background or half a cutout of a cereal box as a platform to jump on, pepper every inch of the play space. Tinfoil rocks block progress in a mine. Items like clouds or fish, depending on one's elevation, hang from puppet strings. 

And this doesn't even mention the colors. "Colorful" on its own does the game a disservice. The palette is wacky and all over the place in a fitting sort of way. The warm themes are only secondary in impressiveness to the creativity and attention to detail, which shines through in the shadows objects in the forefront cast—which perfectly look like shadows cast over a piece of looseleaf paper. 

Like any good Mario game, Crafted World doesn't double up on repeated environments. Even flipping the stage around and running it backward after initial completion feels like a totally new experience. 

Each level is a sheer joy to mow through. This is a Mario-lite game from a difficulty perspective. Yoshi has a ton of health that is hard to lose, and the game offers plenty of chances at refilling it. Dropping off the maps simply shoots him back on stage with a slight health hit. Most baddies encountered don't do much in the way of damage. 

The mechanics keep things simple, too. Anyone who has played Yoshi on any system or game knows the drill. He can jump, then hang in the air. Time the second button-press right, he'll flail his legs and gain some height. He can also gobble up enemies and turn them into useful eggs. 

These eggs are where the gameplay really opens up and helps the incredible, layered world come to life.

From the first level, players will want to pay attention to the happenings in the background. Yoshi can aim one of his eggs and shoot it at an enemy or object in the background for rewards.

Early in the game, flipping a switch rotates the entry level, and Yoshi has to toss his eggs at Shy Guys running around a pirate ship. Nailing them all before time runs out is the only way to collect what they're hoarding and 100-percent the level.

Not long after, Yoshi has to find some of his doggie pals in the background by chucking eggs at them. They then become allies and help. 

Little things like this flesh out the experience and keep it varied. It's a blast just to plow through a level while gunning as many eggs as possible at random items—on Yoshi's plane, in the background and in the forefront, too.

It isn't uncommon to find out a Shy Guy was holding up the cardboard prop and scatters once an egg hits it. Rest assured there are plenty of secrets and rewards to find for those who take the time to turn over every crafted object. 

        

Story, Switch Functionality and More

Crafted World is the typical Mario tale. 

Baby Bowser and Kamek swoop in and stir up some trouble, so Yoshi heads off through the household-item-inhabited world to recover bits and pieces of the Sun Dream Stone. This journey takes him way up, below sea level, on trains and in a variety of different environments. 

The story backdrop serves as a way to get the player into another typical Mario overworld map. Yoshi will progress through stages one at a time and won't have access to the next section unless they have a certain number of flowers, though this never seemed to become a major hurdle on a casual playthrough. 

One of the bigger mechanics and rewarding features that bring out some individuality for players comes in the form of costumes. Yoshi can unlock these at a gumball-looking machine, and it spits out a random item. There is a ton to collect, and the ones labeled as rare certainly seem worth grinding for over the long term. 

After a few levels, the first costume earned was a trash can. When Yoshi dons the trash can, it's funny to use for a while and doubles as an additional layer of health in an armor sort of category. 

It would be remiss not to mention how the game runs on the Switch as a whole. Both Nintendo (Mario Party) and third-party titles (Diablo III) have had an excellent run in this regard lately, offering a full-blown console experience in high fidelity and running well in handheld mode. 

As expected, Crafted World is no slouch here. The game runs and looks great in handheld mode. And, really, this would be the recommended way to play simply for the comfort of the controls and capability to take it anywhere, were it not for the gorgeous graphics. Truly, this one is best experienced on as big of a screen as possible.

Another note comes in the form of accessibility, as it would register as a little strange if this were a brutally difficult game kids couldn't pick up and enjoy. There are two difficulty options here: Mellow mode gives Yoshi wings and makes everything easier, whereas normal is a more typical gameplay trot. 

There is some fun co-op baked into the experience, too—a second player can drop in and out of the action at any time by simply grabbing a Joy-Con. Cooperative play implies working together, but keep in mind the Yoshis can grab and spit each other around the stage, so it makes for an entertaining time. 

      

Speedrunning Tips

Speedrunners are going to eat this game alive. 

An any-percentage run should have some laughably-low times because the difficulty just isn't there for most of the game.

It is easy to blow through most of the levels, especially once a dedicated runner gets their hands on it. A semblance of familiarity will soon set in, and understanding when to fade to the background or go up to the forefront will become second nature. 

The real difficulty is going to stem from a 100-percent run. Understanding all the secrets necessary to find every single gem of the Sundream Stone, as well as red and blue coins and other collectibles, is a gargantuan task. Within some of these are old-school-Mario timed tests that actually ask for good aim and timing-based jumps. 

Which speedrunners will embrace, of course. 

Tips will vary by run. But for a general any-percent, it's advisable to skip most of the side content. Grabbing the most readily available of flowers to unlock the game's map on the fly is possible. At least one costume unlock makes sense for the extra protection, though in an ideal world, a player isn't losing time by getting hit, anyway. 

Another general tip to keep in mind is having a few eggs handy at all times to deal with pesky enemies or objectives. But as always, memorization is the biggest tip of all. Knowing the jumps, enemy locations, which stage shifts are pertinent to getting to the end of the level and proper usage of environment interactions like magnets or train track pieces will determine the outcome of a run. 

Like any Mario game, a speedrunning community is bound to pop up here, even if the vibe of the game is cheery and laid back. 

      

Conclusion

Aimed more at an enjoyable experience than a test of skill, Crafted World swaps out fast pace and precision timing jumps for an invitation to explore. It's one players should accept with open arms, as experiences like this don't come around often. 

Crafted World isn't winning any awards for its platforming, nor is it standing tall next to Mario titles in terms of gameplay or challenge. But it does stand alone, even outside of the Nintendo ecosystem, for its immersive, unique and creative presentation and how those traits interplay with the mechanics. 

Perfect for children and with enough depth for the rest, Crafted World is a one-of-a-kind experience. 

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