In the middle of Handmade Ocean lies Craft Island - an island paradise where everything is made out of yarn and cloth. The colourful Yoshi clan is enjoying yet another day of fun - until the evil Kamek disturbs the peace that is. Kamek goes on to turn all the Yoshis into bundles of yarn for his master Baby Bowser. Two Yoshis manage to avoid being transformed, and so they set off to rescue their friends whom are scattered across (several) different worlds.
If this sounds familiar, you're not mistaken; Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World for 3DS is a close relative to Yoshi's Woolly World, the side-scrolling platformer released for Wii U in 2015. As the title suggests, this new version introduces Poochy, a cute canine friend who strings along on your journey and can lend a helping paw. Additionally, there are five new stages added featuring the perky pup where you control Poochy directly, racing against the clock to collect as many beads as possible. Only five new stages may sound meagre to players already familiar with the Wii U version (although new content may be added in the form of DLC).
The six different worlds (consisting of eight levels each) are exact copies of the ones found in the Wii U counterpart. Similarly, Yoshi retains many of the moves seen in the Yoshi's Island series, such as swallowing enemies. However, instead of producing eggs, Yoshi now produces balls of yarn after slurping up an opponent. These yarn balls can be used to throw at enemies to tie them up, or fill in certain objects and platforms. Added to the 3DS version is the use of Poochy Pups: three canine companions that will follow you around and can be thrown like yarn balls, assist in combat, and even reveal hidden objects.
Beads can be collected throughout each level which can be spent on Power Badges. Power Badges give you useful perks, such as boosting your attack power. Each level also contains Wonder Wool, Flowers, and Stamp Patches. Collecting Flowers increases the chance of entering a bonus game after the level is complete. Stamp Patches unlock stamps to be used in Miiverse posts, whereas collecting all the Wonder Wool unlocks new patterns for Yoshi. If you don't retrieve all the collectables, you can still advance to the next level. But be warned; it quickly becomes increasingly addictive to find and collect all of the items, especially those that require a bit of a puzzle-solving before they can be obtained.
If you fail to flutter, dodge or fight at any point in the game, you respawn at a checkpoint rather than having to restart the entire level, efficiently removing tedious retries. However, at some points the checkpoints are few and far between, and there are no checkpoints before taking on a boss.
If you've successfully jumped, crawled and fluttered through the various obstacles found in a given level, you will unlock the next. If desired, you can re-visit a level at any time once you've completed it. This not only boosts the replay value, it also comes in handy if you suspect you may have missed certain hidden items or bonus levels. Along the way you will encounter end-bosses which must be bested before eventually taking on the biggest boss of all: Baby Bowser.
The game offers two different main modes: Classic Mode and Mellow Mode. Mellow Mode makes the game much easier, giving Yoshi a pair of wings that allow players to fly indefinitely throughout a level. You can toggle between modes at any time. Similarly, you can request the aid of Poochy Pups at any given moment, or switch them off entirely.
Like the Wii U version, Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World is compatible with amiibo. Not only will certain amiibo figures unlock new yarn patterns, the Yarn Yoshi Amiibo allows players to create a duplicate Yoshi in Solo Play otherwise only available in co-op Play. If you're feeling creative you can design, save, and use your own Yoshi patterns. Using the stylus and touchscreen, designing a pattern is a smooth experience. Designing also offers two different modes; easy lets you quickly create a simple design, whereas advanced allows for even more impressive creations.
The only thing that regrettably didn't transfer from the Wii U version, is co-op Play. In this multiplayer mode on Wii U you could play with one other friend, also assuming the role of a Yoshi. With Poochy by your side you won't have to adventure alone, but we feel like it's a missed opportunity to not implement an option to include a second player. The 3DS version has added man's best friend, yet it would have been fun to play with a human friend too.
The story is simple, the levels can be made as easy or difficult as you wish, and the concept is similar to what we've seen before in the Super Mario franchise, albeit with a twist. That said, the game still tests your skills by cleverly hiding objects and prompting players to utilise their surroundings. Of course, it certainly helps that the detailed woolly world is charming and enjoyable to wander around in.
Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World feels right at home on handheld. The transition to 3DS works well; players can easily steer Yoshi through the colourful world of yarn and cloth. Poochy Pups are an adorable addition, and designing patterns with the stylus is a breeze. Due to the ability to change the difficulty at any point throughout the game, Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World is very accessible to both experienced players and new players alike. In our experience, the game is much easier to pick up for a quick go on the 3DS. Even if you've already played it on the Wii U, the 3DS version is well worth checking out, although we'd have liked a bit more new content.