Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Yoshi's crafted world: not for 100% run players


A late review on the Yoshi's crafted world as one of the iconic Nintendo game made for switch. I am so obsessed with Yoshi's island 1 and 2 so is no way that I would miss that.

First, why Yoshi and what's my expectation?

Yoshi became popular due to the great success of the Super Mario World so it gets a spinoff game that is also a 2D platformer but with some twist.

Yoshi's island encourages exploration by introducing non-linear stages and collectibles - flowers and red coins. Exploration can be done by either Yoshi itself or the eggs. Yoshi has a slightly more Jiggling physics comparing with Mario who is designed to run. This is the core mechanics of the Yoshi series.

Yoshi's Island is heavily praised for its vast variety of enemy (and enemy physics). The enemy showroom in Yoshi's island is such a fantastic idea especially when you can interact with them.

As for someone who loved Yoshi's islands, I am expecting a sequel that preserves the standing-out designs from the past while entertaining modern players at the same time. So, am I satisfied of the game?

Well, yes and no.

From the artistic point of view this is another success -- from wool to cardboard based Yoshi you can clearly feel the Nintendo style behind. Every single stage is unique in its enemy and even game mechanism. By advancing in the stage you gradually understand how things work and solve the incoming puzzles.

This is however, not a strictly positive comment. Just as IGN said, "but it's a bummer that even the best ideas are rarely ever revisited later". Since every stage is unique on its own, that means we are not going to see integrated stages featuring multiple mechanics. I can understand the situation in a sense that the themes of even neighboring stages differ too much to be integrated, but this should not be a hard thing to amend.

The integration of multiple mechanism is one of my favourite in Yoshi's island -- we have 3 ordinary stages, then 1 castle (x-4 and x-8) stage where we have mechanics from the last 3 stages but also something new. The castle itself is already fun with the maze design, and even more interesting with these integration. And that brings us to the next point.

Game stages are largely linear. This is of course not a rare thing  among 2D platformers, but Yoshi's crated world is particularly linear  due to the flippable design. By such we have an obvious direction to clear the stage, and also a clear hint to collect hidden items -- just look for the opposite direction.

While individual stages are too linear, the stage sequence is non-linear. One may somehow divide the game into 5 worlds, where you have access to world 2, 3 and 4 simultaneously. But that also means world 2, 3 and 4 are of similar difficulty -- which are all far too easy. Even world 5 is unbelievably easy. But then you suddenly get 3 unforgiving extra stages -- the big difficulty gap is kind of annoying. Why would you introduce instant death rules in the extra stages while the players are not well-equipped for them by clearing the game? If you look at extra stages in Yoshi's island the first 5 extra stages are a bit harder than their respective main boss stage (x-8), while 6-E is pure hell. With proper difficulty progression from x-1 to x-8 in each world, the corresponding extra stage gives a reasonable challenge for those who mastered the previous contents. But in Yoshi's crafted world we only get thse after clearing the whole game, and they are notoriously hard comparing to the rest.

Finishing the 3 extra stages is just the easiest part for those who aim to collect all flowers...I say the easiest not because it's technically the easiest, but this is kind of a new content that you are happy to clear it.

And there are contents that you are not happy to clear.

Flip-side. Oh yes, flip side. Great artistic concept but has a down side on gameplay, Finding puppies is a nice idea (and the pups are fun to play with), but this is technically easy throughout (especially with the sound turned on) hence less attractive for experienced players.

Then you have the find items quest...which is the worse thing in the game. Extremely boring and forces you to play the stage multiple times and wasting so much time looking at every corner. I appreciate the game art, but it is not necessary for me to check every detail. Right? You cannot even access to those quest before clearing the stage, and you can only do one quest at a time, meaning that you have to play stages multiple times even if you managed to find all quest items on the first run. Staged are played like at least 4-5 times in order for one to find all items, and this is pure redundant.

Boss stages...very fun bosses, but I would rather have a complete boss stage, or just a themed castle before the boss. Boss fight is of moderate difficulty but the boss challenges are really hard. That brings us back to the point where the difficulty gap is huge. Of course this is less of a problm because players shoud have already cleared the game for at least once. The time limit gives zero-tolerance to any error that delays the cycle, but it makes the battles a lot more interesting. To meet the time requirement you need to push back even further, so that you have rooms for minor mistakes when you misses some other parts of the challenge.

Costumes. I take it as a quality of life improvement from the 30 seconds count where you do not need to restart the whole stage after making mistakes. Most super rare costumes are very cool -- that's a plus for the game. My favourite is the raven one, probably because raven appeared Yoshi's island too. (Yoshi's island 5-8 is one of the best stages ever made...)

One last thing that I must say -- most score-based stages is uniquely fun, EXCEPT for one, the go-go Yoshi. While being cute and fun, that thing is surprisingly hard to control precisely (I found using the left d-pad gives more accurate control), and the score requirement is damn high -- and that is in the middle of world 1! It also comes back to haunt you in the Kamek boss -- pretty sure many of you failed to clear the stage within time limit just because you missed a single punch in the final Kamek form...

To conclude, Yoshi's crafted world is an amazing game who gives great art and good first-time experience. But it lacks the design to serve experienced players properly. Even worse it frustrates completionists in many way.

Verdict: 7.1/10
Game time: 20 hours for any%, 40-60 hours for 100%

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