When Yoshi’s Woolly World came out on Wii U in 2015, its well-hidden collectibles seemed at odds with its often breezy platforming--most of the challenge was in finding its secrets, so opting to forgo them made some stages too basic. Updated for 3DS, the leisurely pace of Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World feels right at home on a handheld. It’s the superior of the two versions and still works best when you're scavenging for collectibles, though it also has the same balance pitfalls.
Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World includes all 48 stages from the Wii U version and adds extras, including special Poochy levels and an updated version of the original’s easier Mellow Mode. The standard levels still play well, and the lack of a level timer or lives to lose makes more sense on 3DS, where stop-and-start use is more common. Effortlessly (and adorably) hopping through a single level when you only have a few minutes to spare is a little more satisfying than running through several at a time, and of course, stopping to track down even the most hidden of items when you have more time to spare is still just as rewarding.
Though some of the platforming may seem basic for veterans, there are levels that really stand out, like an early Egypt-themed level that expands puzzle-solving beyond collectibles and into the platforming. But Woolly World also has its fair share of levels that don’t require quick thinking or much work at all.
Woolly World isn’t boring, though, thanks to its relaxed pace and charm. It’s a good source of laid-back fun in the midst of intense stress, and its lovingly executed yarn theme is adorable. There’s something delightful about Yarn Yoshi eating a yarn enemy and turning it into a yarn projectile--which would normally not be a particularly pleasant idea--or being able to gobble up yarn fire and repurpose it. Even though quite a few levels are a breeze, there’s at least something cute to zero in on.
Many Nintendo games strive for accessibility--providing challenges that the player can opt into, choosing just how difficult or deep they want the experience to be. Woolly World does that to an extent, but there’s often a noticeable disparity between casually running through a level and aiming for completion. There’s not really a middle lane of difficulty for more experienced players who want a challenge without having to seek out the most well-hidden items. Some of that is remedied by the move to 3DS, and some of it is made better by an expanded version of the original’s optional Mellow Mode.
Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World feels right at home on a handheld. It’s the superior of the two versions and still works best when you're scavenging for collectibles.
Despite the name, Mellow Mode doesn’t necessarily make Woolly World unbearably easy--though it does keep it accessible for younger or more inexperienced players. Like in the original, switching to Mellow Mode gives Yoshi wings that allow you to float indefinitely, which of course makes it easier to survive (though it’s not guaranteed). On 3DS, Mellow Mode also comes with a few Poochy pups to help sniff out secrets. It essentially bridges the difficulty gap, making platforming and collecting more harmonious. And, since it can be switched on and off in the middle of a level, you can use it sparingly if you’re looking for just a little bit of an edge.
And you shouldn’t rely on Poochy too much, because Woolly World really wouldn’t be worth playing without the fun of searching for all its collectibles. There are five flowers and five spools of yarn on each level, and some are almost cruelly hidden. If you’re dedicated, you could potentially spend a lot more time in Yoshi’s yarn world, taking half an hour even on earlier levels to find everything. Getting them all unlocks much harder levels, as well as some adorable Yoshi skins--and it’s rewarding to figure out the tricks and maneuvers you need to find them.
For faster-paced platforming, Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World has a new addition starring its namesake. It’s an endless runner-style set of bonus levels, and while not punishing, mastering the timing of jumps and Poochy’s signature slide is a different kind of challenge. It’s a welcome change of pace and a valuable addition for the 3DS version, making up for the lack of multiplayer by providing a good single-player diversion.
That said, it’s not a reason to buy the 3DS version if you’ve already played the Wii U one, and the extras don’t really give it much of an edge when the best part of the experience was there all along.
Though the gulf between two very different difficulties is not fully fixed by its additions, from the updated Mellow Mode to the extra Poochy levels, Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World gives you what you put in--it can either be almost frustratingly hard for a determined collector or a good fit for someone who’s just looking for a fun, relaxing few hours of platforming.