When I saw the segment on Yoshi's Woolly World during Nintendo's E3 video presentation, I immediately knew that it was a game I wanted to play, if only for the aesthetic. Just seeing a yarn-made Yoshi in a yarn-made world took me to my happy place, giving me the same sort of feeling I get from curling up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea. But I wasn't sure that there would be much more to the game than its incredibly endearing look. But after playing through a few stages yesterday, I feel like Woolly World's gameplay could end up being every bit as cheery as its look.
I wasn't playing alone. My colleague Zorine Te joined me on this excursion into the Woolly World, and the fact that I was playing cooperatively made all the difference in my experience. Well, cooperatively might not be quite the right word. The two of us probably spent about as much time hindering each other as we did helping each other, but I enjoyed every second of it. The game's warm, fuzzy look makes any griefing you might engage in feel good-natured. Sure, your friend might swallow you, but how can you get mad when the result is that you get turned into a cute ball of yarn?
You might suddenly swallow your unsuspecting friend and toss him or her across the screen just for the fun of it, but you can also help each other out by bravely volunteering to be swallowed and turned into a ball. As in the Yoshi's Island games, you can toss eggs at enemies and switches, but charming little visual touches give the familiar action a bit of new life. I loved the way that, when I tossed an egg--which is essentially just a little ball of yarn--at a piranha plant, a piece of yarn twirled around the plant, tying its snapping jaws shut. You also sometimes find loose pieces of yarn you can use Yoshi's tongue to pull loose, unraveling walls and revealing new areas. But you don't just make things come undone; you can also sometimes create new platforms. There are empty wire frames in certain spots, and if you toss a ball of yarn at one of these, the yarn loops around the frame, giving you a new perch to stand on.
As fun as it was to mess around with my co-op buddy, it was just as fun finding opportunities to work together and help each other. In one section, there were little birds we could collect who would follow us just like eggs, and tossing these would temporarily create fluffy, cloudy lines we could stand on. At one point, I created one of these lines, giving Zorine a perch to stand on to spit a koopa shell at an enemy on the other side. At another point, just as I was about to fall to my soft, comfy demise, Zorine tossed one of those little birdies, creating a line underneath me and saving me in the nick of time.
Before my time with Yoshi's Woolly World, I knew that its look would put a smile on my face. Now I know that its gameplay does, too. I look forward to curling up with the game when it comes out in 2015.