On Yoshi’s Crafted World, or Why Sometimes Games Can Just Be Chill

by Christopher David Lawton

I haven’t played a Yoshi game since Yoshi’s Island on the Super Nintendo, which is weird because I actually like Yoshi’s Island more than Super Mario World, which might be blasphemy in the eyes of most gamers, but what can I say? I hate gamers almost as much as I hate sentences with only one clause. Despite my fondness for the green brother Mario never had, I just never took the time to play through any of the other Yoshi games. I seem to remember briefly playing Yoshi’s Story on the Nintendo 64, but I also remember not enjoying it nearly as much as the first one. Certainly, not enough to actually finish it. This second game just felt sterile and cold, a complete contrast to the bright, beautiful hand-drawn graphics of Yoshi’s Island. My reasons for skipping later games in the series vary. Sometimes, I didn’t have the system the game came out on. Other times, I just didn’t take the opportunity to play it.

When Nintendo announced Yoshi’s Crafted World a couple of years ago, though, I took notice. I’ve written before how much I love platformers that find new ways to interact with their world, and the initial trailer showed multi-dimensional levels which allowed Yoshi to move through both the front side and back side of the level, each side offering a literal new perspective on the level. I was definitely interested. So, when I heard Nintendo uploaded a demo, I downloaded it as soon as possible. Ultimately, my impressions of the demo may feel hollow, since I’m not intending to buy the game any time soon. But, I will say this: If I were to buy a game in the next month, Yoshi’s Crafted World would be it.

Way back in the early 2000s, Nintendo debuted a trailer for a new entry in the Legend of Zelda series: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Reactions from gamers were mixed as the trailer showed a cartoon-like, cel-shaded view of Hyrule. The game was labeled by many as “kiddie” or “cutesy,” which, to be fair, was a pretty fair assessment. The game looked like a cartoon, and Link with his big eyes was totes adorbs. Where the discussion surrounding the game led eventually, however, was less about whether or not the graphics were too cute, and more about whether or not that mattered. History has ultimately decided the winner of the debate as almost 20 years later, Wind Waker is considered to be one of the great Zelda games, and not despite the bright, expressive graphics, but because of them.

I bring all of this up because had history reflected poorly on Wind Waker, I’m pretty sure we would have never seen anything like Yoshi’s Crafted World, because this game is cute as fuck.

As its name implies, Yoshi’s Crafted World looks like it would be most at home in a craft store, complete with scotch tape, ribbons, cardboard boxes, and papercraft. All of the environments look like they were cobbled together out of craft materials, painstakingly created by someone with a hot glue gun and too much time on their hands. And I love it.

There’s a charm to this game that I can’t quite explain. It works because of its cuteness. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can’t help but smile when I play this game. It looks like whoever made this game had so much fun making it. There’s a unified vision here for what they want the world to look like, and they’ve found multiple ways to realize that vision within the environments, using materials I would probably be able to find out in my garage.

That said, a game is more than its visuals, and I think the gameplay is actually what I love most about Yoshi’s Crafted World.

From what I understand, the Yoshi series has always focused on simpler platforming. It’s not necessarily easy, but we aren’t talking about Celeste level of difficult platforming in any way. If this is the case, Yoshi’s Crafted World fits this bill. The demo is only one level, but I didn’t really find anything in this level to be even close to difficult. The platforming was all easy, and the puzzles took no time to solve. Overall, this is definitely a game that requires very little of the player. Of course, the question then becomes: is this a bad thing?

I don’t think so. Sometimes, I think it’s okay for a game to just be chill.

Yoshi’s Crafted World is a chill game. Yoshi’s Crafted World stands on the street corner in its cool sunglasses, watching the world go by. Yoshi’s Crafted World plays saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show. Yoshi’s Crafted World is a cool, chill game. And I love it for that. I played the demo before bed one night. My wife was out of town for work, and my dog had passed out next to me. I laid in bed, my bedside lamp providing a soft illumination throughout the room. The night was still, and I played through the demo, and it was a wonderful experience. It was remarkably relaxing, and a huge contrast to when I tried to play Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in bed and ended up not sleeping because I just needed to find and complete one more shrine. When I was done with the Yoshi’s Crafted World demo, I was good. I was relaxed. I was ready to go to bed. And, sometimes, that’s exactly what I want.

As gamers, I don’t think we give enough credit to games that are just chill. We strive for adrenaline rushes, we want that frantic feeling, because the release of hormones when we finally achieve what we’ve been trying to achieve is like a drug. But, that doesn’t mean all of our games have to be like that. I think it’s more than okay to just enjoy a game that feels more like a leisurely stroll through the park. Not every game has to be Dark Souls.

Sometimes, a game can just be Yoshi’s Crafted World.

(All images obtained from the official website for Yoshi’s Crafted World)