Yoshi's Crafted World is one of the first major titles released for the Nintendo Switch in 2019 and it's one of the few first-party Nintendo games that will be available before the summer. The Yoshi series is known for some excellent platforming action in beautifully realized worlds, but the games are often hamstrung by being too easy and too short. Yoshi's Crafted World offers more content than its predecessors, but the lack of difficulty is very much present and may be off-putting to a lot of gamers.
The most striking part of Yoshi’s Crafted World is the graphics. The game world looks incredible, with each level made to look as if it were really created by a group of artists and assembled using cardboard, paint, and tape. The constructed nature of each stage in Yoshi’s Crafted World is a gimmick that never gets tiresome and every level oozes charm. Yoshi's Crafted World might be the most beautiful game on the Nintendo Switch, with each stage being a colorful treat to explore. Yoshi's Crafted World runs equally as well in both docked and tabletop mode, with almost no decrease in the quality of the graphics or the game's performance.
The enemies in Yoshi’s Crafted World are equally as adorable, which actually works to the game’s detriment. There are lots of cute Shy Guys and Little Mousers just hanging out in each stage and minding their own business. It’s hard not to feel like a monster every time they are devoured and sent to meet their maker, just because Yoshi needed some more eggs.
The gameplay of Yoshi’s Crafted World will be familiar to anyone who has played the other games in the Yoshi series. Yoshi can swallow enemies in order to turn them into eggs, which he can then fling like a catapult in order to bypass obstacles in each stage. Yoshi lacks the ability to perform a double jump or a wall jump like Mario, but he can float for a couple of seconds and, with the correct timing, the player can traverse long distances by repeating the float action.
Yoshi's Crafted World offers a co-op mode that allows two players to play as a Yoshi while holding a single Joy-Con each. The two Yoshis can perform team moves, such as one riding on the other's back in order to perform a more powerful ground slam attack. The co-op mode is a lot of fun, especially for gamers who are looking for a lighthearted experience and not a heated competition like what is offered in the co-op modes of a lot of modern 2D Mario games.
The stages in Yoshi's Crafted World are split between levels that allow the player to explore every corner while using the eggs to uncover secrets, and levels that are set on a track and throw obstacles at the player, some of which involve Yoshi controlling vehicles. Poochy the dog from the earlier Yoshi titles appears in several levels in the game and he can be used to clear out enemies or as a mount that Yoshi can ride to bypass hazards. The game throws enough new challenges and gimmicks at the player at a pace that is enough to make sure that the formula never grows stale.
The problem with Yoshi's Crafted World is the absence of challenge. There is no lives system in Yoshi's Crafted World and Yoshi can take several hits before going down, especially if the player equips one of the cardboard costumes that can be randomly purchased from machines on the world map. Yoshi's Crafted World also has a "Mellow Mode" for players who wish to make the game easier, which involves giving Yoshi wings and allows him to maintain his floating jump indefinitely, which can let the player breeze their way through each stage in no time at all.
The part of Yoshi’s Crafted World that suffers the most from the difficulty is the boss fights. The setup to each boss fight looks incredible, with each one featuring an impressive animated sequence of the boss transforming into its final form. These are some of the best looking moments in the game, yet the fights themselves are so easy and short that the player doesn’t get a chance to relish them. There is almost no challenge to any of the boss fights and they end before the player can truly appreciate the work that went into making them look so good.
Yoshi's Crafted World does include several post-story levels that ramp up the difficulty, but there are only a few of these available. Nintendo has used a similar tactic with many of the recent Mario games, which has involved unlocking a series of challenging levels once the game is complete. Yoshi's Crafted World does the same thing, but it could have used some more of these harder levels in order to give more experienced players some extra content.
There are lots of different stages in Yoshi’s Crafted World, but the game tries to pad things out with backtracking. The worst example of this is the quests that are given by characters on the world map, which involve going back into stages in order to find specific items that are littered around the level. These quests cannot be undertaken until you have finished a stage and can only be done one at a time, which means that the player needs to go through the same levels multiple times in order to find items that couldn’t be collected before.
It’s also possible to play reverse versions of each stage that involving finding Poochy’s three pups that are hidden around the level. These reverse stages show the level from a different perspective and will help the player appreciate the amount of work that has gone into designing each part of the game. It’s just a shame that the reverse stages don’t shake up the formula of the level much, other than being able to play through it backward, and the result is that they feel like more unnecessary padding.
The soundtrack of Yoshi’s Crafted World is delightful and fits the world perfectly, but the sound effects take away from the audio atmosphere that the game is trying to be created. The one way in which Yoshi’s Crafted World is similar to Yoshi’s Island is that they both prominently feature a sound effect that is so annoying that the player will want to mute their television set. In the case of Yoshi’s Island, it was the sound of the baby crying whenever it was separated from Yoshi, while in Yoshi’s Crafted World, it’s the sound Yoshi makes whenever preparing to fire a shot. Yoshi makes a noise as if he is straining every time he gets ready to throw an egg, which is a motion that the player will have to perform hundreds of times throughout the game and it will quickly become akin to the sound of nails on a chalkboard.
The only way to recommend Yoshi’s Crafted World is to know what the player wants before they go into the game. If a parent wants an easy and visually stunning platformer for their kid, then this is the game to buy. If the player is someone who wants a relaxing experience and a game that will continue to delight them until the very end, then this is the game to buy. If a player wants a fun co-op experience that they can enjoy without the capacity to destroy any friendships through backstabbing, then this is the game to buy.
The easy difficulty and the amount of backtracking in each stage make it difficult to recommend Yoshi’s Crafted World to the average player, especially at full price. Yoshi’s Crafted World fulfills some very specific needs and not everyone will find enjoyment in the world of construction paper.
Yoshi's Crafted World is available now for the Nintendo Switch. A digital code was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.