Yoshi’s Woolly World may look a lot like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and lack the “island” name, but it’s as much a part of the Yoshi’s Island series as any other entry. Nintendo went out of its way to include as many references to other Yoshi games here, though most aren’t as obscure as the cookie designs seen in the “Yoshi and Cookies” level. The game is obvious about its roots and celebrates them.
The mechanics are very obviously the same. Yoshi’s primary means of attacking enemies are eating or throwing projectiles at them. In this instance, digested enemies turn into balls of yarn, rather than eggs, but aside from the difference in appearance, the application remains the same. There are even the same relaxed and hasty throwing schemes from previous games. Not to mention, he still has that adorable flutter jump, complete with grunting as he reaches his limit. Unless you turn on Mellow Mode, in which case he flies forever.
In fact, Mellow Mode’s flying Yoshi is a callback himself. Super Mario World was the first game to offer what I like to call pegasus Yoshi. If someone had a Blue Yoshi with any shell held in its mouth, it would grow a pair of wings. Any Yoshi in the game could fly, however, if it found and held a blue shell in its mouth. It was a common enough tidbit at the time, but the mechanic wasn’t repeated often.
In-level elements remain the same in Yoshi’s Woolly World as well. There are Egg Block scattered through levels that are white with green spots, but here they supply a Yoshi with yarn instead. Smiley Flowers are one of the key items to find, and appear at the end gate when collected. Instead of providing a one up or chance of medals, grabbing one takes Yoshi to a fruit collecting bonus stage. The fruit is, of course, a reference to the fruit Yoshis are known to enjoy throughout the series, though Watermelons can appear in levels as a means of giving Yoshi a supply of seeds to spit at foes.
Most of the enemies in Yoshi’s Woolly World are familiar faces too. I’m not talking about Kamek the Magikoopa returning as an antagonist or the many Shyguys that show up. There are two returning bosses too. Burt the Bashful, as an example, was Yoshi’s Island’s first midboss and Yoshi’s Woolly World’s first official boss. In both cases, the key is to make him drop his pants to win, either by tossing eggs or using Yoshi’s tongue to unravel them. Naval Piranha and Baby Bowser shows up as well. But even bosses that aren’t recurring follow a similar pattern in the form of naming conventions, as each one has a title, like Raphael the Raven, Prince Froggy, Bunson the Hot Dog or Snifberg the Unfeeling.
For some though, Poochy may be the most surprising callback in Yoshi’s Woolly World. Or at least, his inclusion was unexpected for me. I had really only remembered Poochy from his appearances in Yoshi’s Island and Tetris Attack, so I didn’t realize he had so many other appearances. In Yoshi’s Woolly World, he functions similar to his Yoshi’s Island and Yoshi’s New Island counterpart, in that he can retrieve items, bust blocks, and follows the dinosaur around. However, he does not go out of his way to find hidden items and is never found chained up, as in Yoshi’s Story.
Yoshi’s Woolly World goes out of its way to continually connect with past games, and I’m certain fans of the series will appreciate that when playing through the title on their Nintendo Wii Us.