Nintendo teased us with early images of a project tentatively known as Yarn Yoshi over a year ago, but at E3 last week the company showed us the mostly fully formed iteration of the idea now titled Yoshi's Woolly World. Developed in conjunction with the studio behind Kirby's Epic Yarn, Good-Feel, it's curious that Nintendo would go back to the artsy craftsy yarn style so soon. Why yarn and why now? Reagan Morris at NZGamer spoke with legendary Nintendo designer Takashi Tezuka about his take on Yoshi's string theory (and a bit of Mario Maker, too).
While I was working on New Mario I had a chance to play Kirby’s Epic Yarn and I really admired the aesthetic sense of the dev team who made that game. At the time I had been working on Mario for a while and I had always been thinking about creating the next Yoshi game but couldn’t find the time to do so. After playing Kirby’s Epic Yarn I thought why not make a Yoshi game with Good-Feel [developers of Kirby’s Epic Yarn] using a yarn aesthetic. So that was where it all started.
[W]e did a lot of trial and error, and so, as you know, Good-Feel made Kirby’s Epic Yarn, so we started by trying a similar aesthetic with a single strand of yarn. Kirby has a fairly simple shape but Yoshi is a little more complicated. He has more curves and different shapes involved, so it was hard to express him in that same way. We made all sorts of Yoshis using different materials and stuff.
It's easy to think that Nintendo is going to run the yarn visual style into the ground, but the aesthetic suits Yoshi's world more than it works for, say, Star Fox. Kirby's Epic Yarn had a specialness about it, but its style wasn't exactly suited for the 480p resolution that the Wii produced. An idea like this needs high definition to really shine and I'm glad to see it resurface for the Wii U where the hardware can really do Woolly World justice. As for the Yoshi gameplay itself, the series has never managed to hit the highs of the original Yoshi's Island, so naturally I'm hoping that this new game can at least compete if not top the Super NES classic. The yarn gimmicks add some new tricks to Yoshi's repertoire (such as being able to unravel parts of the scenery to reveal secrets) and this time around there are no excessive babies to get in the way of things. Yoshi's Woolly World is due out in the first half of 2015.