Wednesday’s Nintendo Direct unveiled a few new demos for upcoming titles, one of which being Yoshi’s Crafted World. I played through the demo and- while barely a few scraps- have managed to craft an idea of what the full game may entail.
Firstly, the demo was alarmingly short even for a demo. I had access to a mere single level- two if you include the “flip-side” (more on that later). There was even a side-quest from an NPC to encourage me to revisit the level, but in truth I learned more from the video at the end of the demo than I did playing it. Still, I did gain insights into the gameplay.
It seems that in addition to collecting Smiley Flowers to unlock later stages (and gaining more from red coins and finishing the level with high health), Yoshi can gain Smiley Flowers through other means.
An NPC asked me to hit five cows in the background of the stage as a sort of side-quest. Upon completing it I was given the option to leave the level there and then, but it is a good way to give you something else to do when replaying a stage for 100%.
For those familiar with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, it will seem very familiar. A linear stage that can expand out into more complex areas to search for a key or something functionally similar. In the demo for example, Kamek destroyed a train made of various craft pieces, leaving Yoshi to search a small crafted town for them all.
Other mainstays are back as well. Winged question mark clouds that can be hit with an egg to unlock a new path (some of which only appear once you stand or jump into suspicious areas), red coins disguised as normal ones, and Shy Guys endlessly pouring out of pipes.
Likewise Yoshi is armed with his typical abilities of flutter jumping, ground-pounding eating, and egg throwing. This time you cannot move and aim an egg at the same time, instead the analog stick is used to freely aim. You can cancel out of it by jumping or using your tongue, and while restrictive at first I suspect split-second egg tossing and movement will hardly be needed in the full game.
This time Yoshi may throw eggs to objects in the background or foreground- placing the reticule over them highlights them brings removes the depth-of-field effect on that plane. At times it can be hard to tell what you can strike, but it is nothing aiming the reticule over the object cannot solve. The bigger annoyance was that it only prompted a reward half the time- on this stage.
Aside from rewards that were out in the open, some enemies in the background and foreground had no purpose to being struck. It seems you can strike an object over and over for multiple “hits” as it bounces around to net more coins.
While grabbing 100 coins in a stage seemed easy enough to do without it, it does provide some amusement and self-imposed challenge to see how long you can juggle the object. Though most of the time, you can spam throwing eggs to get five or so hits in for a lot of coins.
After completing the stage, I unlocked the “flip-side” of it and had to go through the stage backwards looking for three Poochie Puppies. No collectables, just completing the task fast as I could. While impeccably easy in the demo, I suspect the Poochies could be well hidden in the full game. It has the potential that you, quite literally, will have to know the stage back to front.
The game also offers a “mellow mode” that can be switched to at any time. Yoshi gains a set of wings, letting him hover and flutter jump even more frequently. In addition, he takes very little damage from enemies. While Shy Guys and Piranha Plants dealt two and eight hearts worth of damage respectively, both only did a mere one heart in mellow mode.
I usually have no qualms about easy modes, but mellow mode is beyond infantile. On top of being nigh-impossible to die, there is no indicator if you used it to complete a stage or in just one instance to get past a difficult section.
Even Kirby’s Epic Yarn made it so if you got hit you lost more score at the end of the level, or recent Donkey Kong Country and Mario games offered an immortal mode after you continually died. Unless there is a reward for playing on Classic in the full game, then doing so is nothing more than self-restriction akin to only using a pistol in a first-person shooter.
The game does utilize a two player mode. When one Yoshi sits on the back of another, it grants infinite eggs to throw and a screen-clearing ground pound (to all enemies on the ground). While a vast improvement over the co-op in Super Mario Odyssey or Super Mario Galaxy, it is a tad too powerful. Even without the bonus skills, the level was really designed for one player.
The graphics are as you expect- cute incarnate. Every object is made up of bits of card, boxes, and other odds and ends you would find in a home, painted and drawn over to make the environment. When playing on flip-side, you can see what the object was. It is charming to realize that hill in the background was a milk-carton, and how obvious it should have been from the front.
While not overly noticeable except up close or in the pause menu, the texture on Yoshi and the Shy Guys felt bodies looks incredibly soft, though juxtaposed by their shiny plastic shoes. Textures that are flat are just very accurate to how colored craft paper looks. When an object does have texture and detail it looks great.
The animations are charming as well, from how Yoshi marches in place on the pause screen, how Shy Guys play with tiny paper butterflies on a rod, to how the Poochie puppies bound around and spin their tiny tails when Yoshi flutter jumps.
They are small details that would be easily overlooked and soon forgotten, but it is sweet when you first notice them. That seems to apply to many small details within the level as a whole now I think about it. Much like how the depth-of-field effects can hide what an object is made of until you get up close to it.
One curiosity is that the frame-rate outside of levels in noticeably slower. The title screen and overworld map seem to be at 30 FPS, while the actual level was far smoother almost 60. I do hope this is something exclusive to the demo, as it is a little distracting.
Music is made of preschool instruments, and the odd noise of tearing paper or flipping pages. It is very relaxing and soothing as you would expect. Shy Guys are mute this time around, and Yoshi keeps most of his old sound effects. Though his new egg-aiming “hmmmmm” can get annoying.
Aside from hints of information from an NPC and the end-demo video (showing off costumes that grant an extra hit of protection and Yoshi piloting a small cardboard mecha) that was the entire demo had to show.
While it shows a lot of potential for how it can become challenging, I doubt it will ever become as much as a challenge as Yoshi’s Island. It still seems like a charming game for the young ones that will hopefully encourage exploration and 100%, as long as they keep off the mellow mode. And of course, there’s nothing wrong with playing something easier when you want to chill out, right?
Yoshi’s Crafted World launches March 29th on Nintendo Switch. You can expect our full review soon after.