Cardboard teams win cardboard trophies, but there’s no prizes for Yoshi this time

Yoshis Crafted World

Yoshi’s Crafted World (2019)

I’ve been trying to cast my mind back to the moment when I realized that I was never going to be a team player. There’ve been many occasions when I’ve shunned everybody (haven’t we all), but I think I’ve found the watershed moment. It was in either Fourth Class or Fifth Class in school, which will mean nothing to you, but then Year 12 and 8th Grade mean nothing to me either, so we’re even on that score. Just know that we would have been about 12 years old.

It was one of those strange whims that teachers get for whatever reason, that comes completely out of nowhere and is nothing to do with books, which takes me right out of the comfort zone. We were all split up into groups, and we each had ten minutes to turn some cardboard strips and boxes into an articulated lorry that could move. Now you should know, that kind of thing, building something that works, with engineering and levers and axles and physics and God knows what else – that sort of thing is just not for me.

And so the five of us tried to put it all together, except we barely even knew where to start. They were looking at me expectantly, I was looking back at them, agog. We eventually managed to cobble together something that looked not so much like a truck, more like a broken cardboard accordion. I don’t think it even had any wheels, and although I didn’t demonstrate much engineering prowess on that day, I’m fairly sure a truck needs wheels.

It really was an abomination, you know, and when the paltry time limit was up, the teacher called on us to to display our not so work of art. I half thought about presenting it as a Liverpudlian lorry, you know, with the tyres already nicked from it. But then that wasn’t the spec, was it?

The teacher gave a classic “oh dear” and asked us what had happened to our creation. And I swear we all started going at each other, pinning the blame on whoever we could, lots of “he said that, you did this”, the type of thing that goes on in bad teams full of bluffers. I have to say, it really was a textbook example of bad teamwork and how not to work together. It was a team falling down, a total dissension in the ranks.

Now listen, it wasn’t my fault. Everyone else on my team said that, but I went on to pass my exams with aplomb whereas they all became beggars living in cardboard boxes that looked a little bit like lorries. No, just joshing, I don’t know what happened to most of those boys. Perhaps they all became members of a government team of consultants. Either way, the whole charade completely warranted aversion to cardboard ever since.

That’s why I was a little bit hesitant about Yoshi’s Crafted World for Nintendo Switch. I really liked Yoshi’s Woolly World on the Wii U actually, one of the few shining lights of that console. It had some very nice music, and I enjoyed its aesthetic. I know it was a pretty childish affair, but it was still dead fun and it’s probably the best of the many, many attempts to recreate the Yoshi’s Island SNES magic.

But Yoshi’s Crafted World? I’m just not feeling this one at all. It really is a game for young children, which makes me feel a bit of a loser for even trashing it. But come on, something like this is way too pandering, almost insulting – any audience can be as smart as you treat them.

I always have to spare a “note” for a game’s musical score (little troubadour pun for you there), but the tunes in this game are quite a step down from Woolly World. They’re definitely not as homely, and it’s pretty childish fare again, all kazoos and shrill instruments, with pretty much every level using the same leitmotif, if that’s the right word. And it’s ain’t a very nice motif either.

So that’s some forgettable music, and I’d have to say there’s probably not a single memorable level to speak of either. I’ve already shelved the game, so there’s no chance I’m going to pull it back out and get to the end, but I do remember there was a nice level with zombie Shy-Guys. Interesting old concept, a bit of cardboard horror, but the problem with it is that even if we had a dozen or more classic levels in the package, you’re spending most of your time replaying the same stage over and over again, each time with different objectives.

Whether that’s rounding up Poochy the dog’s little pups or finding twenty objects in the background to shoot – if you want 100% completion, get ready to perform some properly menial tasks. that the fella in The Simpsons who worked at the box factory might enjoy, but no ttrail-blazing gamers like us.

And even that doesn’t take too long really, but it’s the best chance you have at getting a good deal out of this game. Yoshi games have always been about the philosophy of the levels and worlds only taking a short while to complete, but giving you a right ballache if you want 100%. To unlock everything in Crafted World though is just tedious. And again it doesn’t do much different from the old Yoshi fare: it’s the same old enemies again. It’s always the South Park memberberries with this series.

;Member Shy Guys? ;Member the foamy crabs with the enlarging claws? ‘Member the bouncy wee penguin you couldn’t eat? Yes, we ‘member, we’ve been meeting them in every single Yoshi’s Island knock-off since 1995. I know that’s a bit unfair – after all, what is there in the New Super Mario Bros games beyond Koopas, Goombas and your occasional Bullet Bill? What about the ghost of Baby Mario? ‘Member him? He’d have been a good one to gun down with thrown eggs. Mind you, having to come to a standstill any time you toss an egg in midair hurts the gameplay a lot more than you think. Or maybe I’m the only one who likes the carpet bombing Blitzkr-Egg Yoshi approach.

It’s true that when you don’t like a game, you notice every single little fault with it but I must say that the loading times aren’t great either. And what could the game possibly be loading? It’s not particularly impressive, graphically. The cardboard aesthetic all less impressive than the wool of Wii U. Yoshi himself looks fine, though I was disappointed to lose out on the yarn. More accurately, I was disappointed not to see Yoshi’s legs turn to wheels when he ran at speed; I just cannot overstate how much I loved seeing that on the Wii U game.

You can change Yoshi’s look as well, but even that’s another letdown. Instead of all the weird and wonderful yarn designs of Woolly World, you get these crappy cardboard costumes that can take a few hits on Yoshi’s behalf. Cardboard armour, you might call it. It’ll help you satisfy the 100% requirement to finish levels with full health for 100%, but otherwise, you might as well just watch the game being played out for you.

Oh wait, you can do that already with an Even More Casual Mode. If there’s a person out there who needs Yoshi body armour, a Casual Mode and several checkpoints, and they still can’t get through the game, then I honestly think that should be a shooting offence – only deal is, such a problem would probably be too slow to react to the pain of a headshot, and they wouldn’t even feel it.

Where does Yoshi go from here, eh? They’re sill trying to capture a magic that happened almost 25 years ago. Trainspotting couldn’t manage that. Nor could Bullseye. The Simpsons is probably never gonna manage it at this stage. In Springfieldian terms, I’d say that the original Yoshi’s Island was Season 5. Yoshi’s Story was Season 9 – fun in places, but a notable decline.

Yoshi’s Island DS was the divisive Frank Grimes episode. Yoshi’s New Island 3ds was That 90s Show. Woolly World had a lot of good points to it, maybe that one could be The Simpsons Movie, or the Family Guy crossover, not that I much like Family Guy either. Yoshi’s Crafted World is perilously close to that episode that mercifully I’ve only heard about, where Moe falls in love with Maggie. You think that’s harsh? I could have likened the game to the Lady Gaga episode or the Kesha intro.

This is all pretty laboured, I know, but all you need to understand is that Yoshi’s been around almost the same length of time as The Simpsons. But after his mid-to-late-90s peak, he sure has been on a steady downhill. I suppose that’s better than a nosedive, a steep drop, like me and the rest of the boys on that cardboard truck team way back. What a pain cardboard is, really. You take a look around your house and it’s cardboard everywhere. Oh, I won’t throw that box out, it could come in handy. No, it never comes in handy. It does you no favours, that stuff. Yarn can do you favours. But Yoshi’s Crafted World? Do me a favour.

19 March 2021

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