Yoshi's Woolly World review: a visual aesthetic that is simply mesmerising

Nintendo Wii U; £34.99

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The Independent Tech

Creators of the well-liked Kirby's Epic Yarn on the Wii, Good-Feel return to the skein of the crime with another of Nintendo's endearing mascots, somehow making the already cute Yoshi even more adorable in the process. The game's environment looks much like an exploded sewing box, with knitting needle doorways, an abundance of buttons, and felt-effect loading screens.

Almost everything is cast in a variety of textile materials, with platforms and other obstacles made from suede, tweed, and of course wool. The blue sky backgrounds of the first world are draped curtains, the usual lava levels are represented by a flowing red and orange scarf, and the waves on water levels are strands of wool rippling in the breeze. There's a visual aesthetic at play that is simply mesmerising, right down to the little changes as Yoshi unravels himself to fit into a pipe, or knits his feet into a propeller when he lands in deep water.

The gameplay is classic Yoshi, harking back to his classic SNES outing Yoshi's Island, complete with his signature flutter jump. As ever, Yoshi can swallow most of his adversaries, only instead of converting them into eggs, Woolly World turns the hapless Shy Guys into yarn balls. Shooting yarn balls at Piranha Plants ties their jaws shut, allowing you to stomp on them, while Little Mousers will sneak up behind you and try to steal your ammunition. Creative ways to use the yarn include covering a chain chomp in wool which makes a ball that when pushed will send otherwise impregnable denim blocks scattering.

Level design is inventive as ever, with threads to unravel, sprung walls that can be shifted out of the way, and some excellent bonus levels that see our favourite green dinosaur knitting himself into various guises, including Mole Yoshi, Moto Yoshi and Mega Yoshi, all of which bring enjoyable gameplay diversions. As ever, there is no shortage of collectables to be sought out, with five sunflowers, twenty stamp parts and five packets of wool all to be found on each course.

A special mention must go to the stellar soundtrack, which throws in an astonishing range of tricks, with Hawaiian steel guitars, sitars and synthesisers providing some real earworms as you work your way through the six worlds. As with most new Nintendo titles, Yoshi's Woolly World supports Amiibo use, with the Yarn Yoshi allowing players to create a duplicate of themselves (similar to the cherry power-up in Super Mario 3D World), and other regular Amiibos activate some rather funny costumes as Nintendo icons are squeezed onto Yoshi's frame.

There's very little to gripe about, bar a few pacing issues within certain levels, as Feel-Good provide a remarkably polished experience with plenty of content and joyful presentation. Few games have such a compelling match of visuals and gameplay that playing feels like a relaxing experience, a comfortable blanket to drape yourself in on those days when only some classic platform action will do.