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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Yoshi's Woolly World.

Transcript Edit

The continued popularity of Yoshi ever since his, her or its first appearance in Super Mario World provides a lesson for us all: your future is guaranteed if you're willing to let someone important ride you. That particular investment is now paying off with Yoshi's Woolly World, another game to add to Nintendo's growing and still slightly baffling stable of old properties remade in arts and crafts materials. One wonders as to the point; perhaps Nintendo finds some catharsis in retreading its history in a manner that can be easily set on fire.

In this case, I suspect that it's partly because making Yoshi out of inorganic matter cunningly skirts around a couple of lingering awkward questions surrounding the character, such as, "are we literally consuming our enemies and then either converting them into our unborn children or pooing them out as hardened egg-shaped shits?", both of which are equally fucked up in their own way, whereas now we can say, "It's alright, everything's made out of knitted wool. You're just unraveling enemies and turning them into yarn balls! Through your butthole!"

As the game opens, all the happy little Yoshis, most of whom seem to have really gotten into the body-modding scene, are living an idyllic life of hopping up and down and making noises like guinea pigs being trodden on, when the minions of Bowser show up and kidnap most of them, presumably to shut them up for five minutes. What few Yoshis remain - is Yoshi the name of the species or of just the green one specifically? What few cartoon Velociraptors remain must then set off to journey across six worlds of eight levels to recover all their lost friends by gathering the five body parts hidden in each level and stitching them back together. Not weird, it's wool, remember? So begins the usual odyssey of forest-desert-ocean-jungle-ice world-fire world-boss-cunt, or more accurately, forest-desert-candy land-jungle-ice world-boss. Fucking Candy World's always messing up the Mario rhythm as well as my diabetes.

I say "Mario", but despite the fact that we're battling Mario's villains and playing as Mario's favorite arse-cushion, Mario himself is in absentia. That's noteworthy, 'cause the first thing you need to know about Yoshi's Worry Wart is that it's probably safe to skip if you've replayed Yoshi's Island at all recently. It'd be little more than a remake if it weren't for the absence of Baby Mario, which was always a curious case study. We have Mario, one of the most beloved characters in popular culture today, and we have babies, which human beings are hardwired to want to protect. And yet somehow the combination of the two elements ended up creating something that inspired most people to fantasize about stamping on the little shit's face until its jaw came off and its perpetual mewling was drowned out by a throat full of blood and bone fragments.

So now you don't get your baby knocked off every time you get hit, nor are you counter-intuitively forced to chase after it rather than gratefully fist-bump the enemy responsible. But all that relieved irritation has to settle somewhere and it may have not been in Yoshi's best interests to ditch the little scrote, 'cause I'm suddenly hyper-aware of all the repeated vocalizations he makes. Going "MMMMMNNUGH!" every time he's aiming to throw an egg is cute, charitably speaking, maybe twice, and then it starts rubbing against the nerves. Sounds like a chipmunk trying to lift a heavy power sander.

And while we're on the subject, I know the egg-aiming controls had to be kind of shitty on the SNES 'cos they didn't have fancy things like analog sticks in that infamous Dark Age of modern history, but not to put too fine a point to it, we do now. Maybe get some use out of your fancy controller rather than map every control onto at least four buttons on the off-chance that the game's being played at the circus and Billy the Lobster Boy wants to have a go.

Anyway, as well as the five Yoshi body parts, each level has five flowers and twenty special gems, and if you miss any of them, then the end of the level will make damn sure that you know it! "No, of course you don't have to laboriously check every inch of the map for secrets. You can still move on to the next level. Also, you don't have to get As at school, do you? D's still a passing grade, there's no difference. And who cares if your mother weeps with shame every day! At least she hasn't killed herself like your dad did, you fucking loser!"

The point is, there's something rather unreasonable about Yoshi's Whirly Wonk's completionist gameplay especially considering that half the secret pick-ups are flat out invisible until you touch them. It's like we cleaned the barracks from top to bottom but we didn't polish the brass unicorn the drill sergeant hid under the floorboards so we're doing fifty press-ups anyway. After a while, most of the now mandatory Miiverse posts that the game flashed up while loading the next level were along the lines of "Help, I can't find Pick-up 17 of 94!" and "Help, my bottom needs wiping and Mother isn't home from work yet!"

In fact, while the levels of World One have no end of the usual "BEST GAME EVARRR"s hanging off them, by the time I was in World Six, the Miiverse posts were getting a bit thin on the ground. Some levels could only populate the loading screens with six copies of the same post or meaningless scribbles someone probably uploaded by mistake while they were trying to chase a naughty kitten off their touch screen, all of which gave me a [wikipedia:What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962 film) What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?] "Look, they still love me!" kind of vibe. Do you think Miiverse posts will still be going up on these games in twenty years saying things like, "Wow, looking at these old games really puts Nintendo's recent massacre into perspective."

Yoshi's Weary Wank also adds a badge system where you can choose to spend some of your hard-stolen gems to equip a special buff for the upcoming level. So if, for example, I notice that the level was called something like "Hot Times in Fiery Jeff's Lava Bungalow", I'd cunningly equip the immunity-to-fire badge and turn the level into an absolute joke, which has the warp whistle quality in that it feels like a cheat the game gives you and seems an odd addition to a game designed for psychotic completionists. Anyway, it's a pretty vestigial feature, since I didn't use it under any other circumstances, not every one having the courtesy of Fiery Jeff to signpost the hazards.

Nintendo remake their old tat a lot, and as long as they turn a profit, then anything I say is but the tiny guffs of a bluebottle in the face of Christ the Redeemer. But I wonder if they're adopting the right attitude. They should take the opportunity to re-examine their old games and ask questions like, "Do we really need to feel shackled to an aiming reticle that has to wave back and forth like we're disinterestedly sponging down a beached whale?" rather than questions like, "Do you think we could paint Yoshi's knackers purple this time?"

Addenda Edit

  • A monkey on your back: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • But who's the real asshole; the minions of Bowser or the guy who insists on licking everything
  • Imagine a boot stamping on Baby Mario's face forever

Screenshots Edit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

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