When it comes to videogames Nintendo does things with wonderful panache; and the Switch has become a standout favourite for its exclusive titles based around many of Nintendo's much-loved classic characters.
Mario's dinosaur friend, Yoshi, makes yet another case for the Switch in Crafted World, a deliciously stylised platformer caper where you play our fluffy dino-friend - available in solo or co-op play - in a game-world that's akin to lifting the lid off a kiddy's creative box of cardboard cut-outs, wool and fabric.
But don't judge a book by its cover: just because it looks like a toybox designed for young'uns only, it's great to see that Yoshi's Crafted World has far wider appeal thanks to its intricate platform levels and great level design, including enough versatility and replayability to make it worth the cover price.
Never mind the fuzz
Things kick off in Yoshiland in expected fashion: five sun stones have gone missing and it's your duty to go get them before they fall into the hands of dastardly Baby Bowser.
Pick your Yoshi, learn the jump-and-hover, tongue-grabbing gulp and bottom-smash maneouvres and you're ready to go. It doesn't get more complicated than that, really, with egg-throwing the only other notable move. It's an accessible difficulty curve that's easy to master.
But just because it looks simple doesn't mean that it always is. Sure, the woollen fluff and carboard look all cutesy, but hidden among the basic platforming progress are ways to earn more smiley flowers - think of these as in-game currency to unlock future worlds and levels - by completing mini challenges within levels.
You'll often miss a bunch and will need to re-play levels to obtain the most from them. Collecting over 100 coins, 20 special red coins and finishing with full health also each provide an additional smiley flower a piece. And if you want to 100 per cent the game then you'll need to spend some time digging out the more difficult among those challenges.
In a great twist to the usual linearity of a platform title, Nintendo has also made Yoshi's Crafted World possible to play in reverse. Yep, backwards levels exist with the goal of catching three doggos that hide throughout the level and, secondly, to finish the level in under a certain time. That can mean up to four extra smiley flowers per level.
It also makes for great versatility that expands the game beyond being just a linear platformer. The hide-and-seek element has added appeal over the usual completition method on the flip-side, too, and when we say 'backwards' we really do mean it - you see the reverse side of all those cardboard cutouts, run the level from finish line to start, and learn a lot about the mechanics of things you may have missed on the opposite playthrough.
There's more than this besides, with various 'vehicle' levels - a giant stomping Yoshi-bot, a plane to fly, dinosaur bone-heads to wear and beyond - ensuring enough variety to to keep the entertainment up.
More than just a fluff piece
While all this makes for a wonderful looking game that plays well, it's just a bit too easy for seasoned gamers. Only the final boss took us a bit of time to figure out, each and every one prior we took out on the first try - and few levels had us scuppered to the point of failure, except when hitting a wrong button or doing something foolish.
The game design does see levels get tougher, though, with some of the haunted house levels and final stage missions in space adding some more taxing enemies and elements to proceedings.
Beat the final boss and this will open up the Hills special levels, which are far trickier to complete and far harder again to 100 per cent. Plus you'll need a lot of smiley flowers to open these individual levels, which will mean going back through the game to gather as many as possible.
Although by the time you get that far into the game you might be playing it on mute because the music is torturous enough to make you hum it forever. And not in a good way.
Yoshi's Crafted World is a graphical masterpiece and a well-balanced platformer caper that'll appeal to new and established gamers of any age. It represents the different approach that Nintendo takes and is yet another notch on the Switch's must-buy list.
That said, it's really not that difficult to complete and the music is like a perpetuual punch to the brain. If you want to 100 per cent the whole game with every smiley flower collected from every level (including the post-game specials), however, then it'll keep you plugging away for hours. Many joyous hours.
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