Yoshi’s Crafted World is a whimsical Yoshi game that incorporates low difficulty gameplay in a 2.5 dimensional environment filled with recycled craft materials. Think first grade art project and then add Yoshi to it and you’ve pretty much got the idea. The game is clever and incorporates a lot of mechanics into each level that increase the playtime and replay value. If you haven’t seen a Yoshi game before, the main play has you eating enemies and pooping them out as eggs, which you can then throw at things. It’s weird when you think about it, but it’s cute in action. So sure it’s cute, but can you play it if you’re visually impaired?
About me and my play style: I have albinism. My visual acuity fluctuates between 20/100 and 20/500 depending on if I’m wearing contacts and how tired I am. I have color vision, but no depth perception. I also deal with eyestrain if I have to focus too precisely for too long. I primarily play in handheld mode so I can hold the screen closer. I tend to play on my long commute with no sound because I need to keep my ears free to listen for my stop to be announced.
Visual Characteristics 5/10
(Contrast, Lighting, Tracking, Clutter)
Yoshi’s Crafted World is done in a very innocent art style that communicates the aesthetic and vibe of the game, but it doesn’t do you any favors as far as being easy to see. The assets have much less shading around the edges making for pretty much no outlines around objects. Yoshi seems to have too much shading in weird places, so he doesn’t have good outlines, either. This is an issue because the colors are pretty much all the same level of saturation, and things can blend together. The ambient lighting is generally good, though there are dark levels, but the lighting doesn’t give you any shadows or anything that might help you distinguish objects. Tracking is fine, maybe a little less than fine. The tracking is almost hindered because the objects and enemies are larger and move slower. The dark levels can be pretty muddy, mostly because they’re using the same saturation levels for everything just like they do on the light levels. The dark levels are doable, but they’re not as enjoyable. The saving grace is that the collectibles are all very bright and coins are shiny, so with the dark levels, the main thing you have to worry about is enemies. It doesn’t help that the dark levels have unique enemies that you don’t see anywhere else, so you don’t know how to squish them and you have to figure it out for the first time without really being able to see them well.
Each level starts you out with less than full health, and you need to pick up more health along the way. You gather health by chasing down little pink hearts the game tosses at you. These hearts are very little and can be quite difficult to see quickly, which matters because they disappear after a few seconds and they move on their own so they tend to fall of platforms. I wouldn’t count off for this given the low difficulty except that you get extra flowers for completing each level with full health. It doesn’t break the game, but it’s certainly annoying, and it doesn’t really make you feel like you demonstrated more skill to get them.
This game is cluttered. No other way to say it. There’s a lot of stuff everywhere. Milk cartons, egg cartons, cardboard, paper cups… They went all in on the crafted theme. And while I will say it does give way more atmosphere than most Nintendo games… It also makes it more difficult to play. Especially the backgrounds are very busy.
The 2.5D style does you no favors, either. The game is essentially a normal 2D platformer except there are multiple tracks that you sometimes switch between, so there will be perpendicular paths to get to the background path and foreground paths. I really wanted this to be fun and add more dimension (sorry, not sorry) to the game. However, it really just increased the clutter exponentially. I’ll talk about depth perception more later, but I had so much trouble telling which track things were on that sometimes I just had to put the game down.
I said the game utilizes a lot of mechanics – and how! Each level can be played normally, and most can also be played backwards in a seek-and-find mode to find poochy pups, which are little dog-like critters. Most of these pups you have to catch by throwing your eggs at them. This includes a lot of the egg-throwing mechanic. The game also will ask you to replay levels in search of souvenirs that these little robot dudes want. In this mode, you need to find particular items that are usually among the clutter in the background and shoot them with an egg.
Some levels are more mine-cart style that rely primarily on the egg-throwing mechanic. In addition to those very well-used mechanics, individual levels or worlds also have unique mechanics that utilize certain objects that you interact with to progress. These objects include magnets that must be picked up and moved to get things to happen.
This game is somewhat different visually because tracking movement was not the primary difficulty I had. Being able to track movement doesn’t really help you too much. The thing that I found difficult here was identifying the objects. In most platformers or similarly styled games, I don’t really need to know exactly what the thing is. I need to know if it’s an enemy, and I need to know how to avoid or squish it. In this game, though, I needed to know what the particular item was so I knew how to interact with it. For instance, you can walk inside of a cup, but you can’t walk inside of an origami box. You need to be able to recognize that a magnet is a magnet and not just a platform to be able to pick it up and move it. The objects aren’t small. They’re about the size of your Yoshi, so the problem isn’t that they’re too small to see, generally, though I’m sure it would help if they were larger. The problem is that there are really no context clues to know what to expect, and with the low contrast, it’s hard to identify the objects, which is a bigger part of this game than most platformers.
The egg-shooting isn’t easy. A lot of egg-shooting happens when you’re in an auto-scroll level, on a vehicle of some sort, or on a timer. So you are moving, and your target is moving. Your targets frequently hide behind set pieces in the backdrop. You aim with the left stick, which isn’t horrible, but if you’re also trying to jump and move, it can be really difficult. Once you start throwing an egg, you can no longer move with the left stick because it’s occupied with egg-throwing. It seems silly. The right stick isn’t even used, so let us aim eggs with the right stick if we want to that way we can move and aim simultaneously…
The main problem with the visuals is the resolution. To account for the depth perception problems of a 2.5D game, it intentionally blurs things not immediately in your dimension of play. Once you start aiming an egg at something, they will scale up, but you have to be able to find them to aim at them while they’re blurry. Even worse, the resolution dips significantly when there are a lot of assets on screen, particularly in mine-cart levels. We’re talking it dips down severely. There were also some really weird wax-paper effects on the mine-cart levels. The objects not only looked blurry, but the colors were less vibrant. I’m a really bad judge of resolution, but sometimes this looked like a Wii game, even in docked mode. In handheld mode, it was a little better considering it was on a smaller screen, but it still looked like a good 3DS game instead of a Switch game. I’m sure some of the blurring was intentional to communicate depth perception, but it didn’t really do that, and it just made everything hard to see. Not to mention the rapid shifting of focus when aiming eggs at different objects was disorienting.
Accessibility Features 3/10
There’s not much in the way of accessibility features. You can choose from three control schemes, but the only big difference between them is if you prefer A or B to jump and if you like using triggers. You can play two-player where one person shoots the eggs and one person moves, but that didn’t really help a ton. However, if you are mostly worried about the egg-shooting aspect of this, you could get a sighted buddy to shoot the eggs for you. I tried out letting my girlfriend shoot the eggs, but I still had to help line up the shots, so I still had to visually check where she was aiming to make sure I didn’t mess up her shot. So… it can be helpful, but it’s not going to change your life.
You can also change the amount of rumble you get. You can turn it off or make it gentler on a slider bar. This is helpful if you’ve got sensory sensitivities.
Assist Modes 8/10
The assist modes are actually pretty decent. I’m docking a point for no auto-aiming feature. I know that people complained about the last Yoshi game having auto-aiming, but we don’t have to swing this far the other direction and not include it at all. Auto aiming would have made the game so much more playable. I’m also docking a point for the assist mode not being more helpful in boss fights. Some of them, particularly the last one… I just didn’t know what to do. I spent several rounds just running around trying to figure out what the objective was.
That said, what the assist mode does offer you is pretty beefy. There is a “mellow mode,” which I give credit for not straight up calling itself an “easy mode.” The mellow mode gives you wings and you can hover indefinitely. You can jump indefinitely in the standard mode, but in mellow mode, you just hold the jump button and you’ll float. This is super helpful so you can have more time to aim and not be in the way of enemies on the ground. The assist mode also makes it so you can’t die. You pop into an egg and float back to a spot before you died, usually the last ledge you were on. This mechanic is really good. You keep all of the collectibles you got before you died, which is particularly helpful for chase sequences. The chase sequences still go full-speed. It might have been helpful for these to be slowed down, but I won’t complain about that since there’s no big penalty for dying.
There are also “costumes” that can be used in both standard and mellow modes that give you more health points. These costumes are bought with coins at little gumball machines in each world, and once you’ve bought them, you can use them as many times as you want. If you sustain too much damage in a level, you will lose it for the rest of that level and have to remember to put it on again for the next level. I often forgot to go put my costume on again after I had lost it, so heads up if you’re forgetful. They’re really cute, though. And the costumes can be used to help visually distinguish your Yoshi, which is a nice bonus. The costumes come with three to five health points depending on the one you select. This is a good option for people who want a little bit of help but not a lot.
I will also mention that the mellow mode and costumes can be changed at any time within the same save file. You can use mellow mode on a level if it was too hard in standard mode and it won’t change a thing. You have to select it before entering a level, but that’s the only stipulation. It’s really nice that you don’t have a save file permanently marked as being in the mellow mode.
Nonvisual Cues 4/10
I don’t have too much to say about the non-visual cues. They’re passable. Nothing overly creative. I’d like to see special sound effects for enemies and more rumble when you’ve managed to aim correctly. The nonvisual cues could have been used to much greater effect. Even beyond the accessibility part, the nonvisual cues could have made the game much more immersive.
Decent Fonts 6/10
The fonts are cutesy, but they have decent contrast because they’re white on bright colors. They definitely could be bigger, but it’s mostly the menus, so you can use the built-in zoom function if you need to.
Necessity of Text 8/10
(The higher the rating, the less necessary the text is)
The text is nearly completely unnecessary besides the menu. There are some conversations between Kamek and Bowser Jr. that are kinda cute to read if you care, but they don’t impact the gameplay. These scenes will often give you some sort of choice but it doesn’t matter what you do. The cut scene is going to progress regardless. I’m docking points for the interactions with the robot dudes at the front of every world. You have to pay them a certain number of flowers to be able to access the world, but that interaction isn’t particularly difficult to figure out since it pops up with a big green checkmark and a big red x option. However, if you want to go find the souvenirs, you have to interact with the robots, and the text there is pretty necessary to know what the object is that you’re looking for. It’ll give you a little picture of the object, but sometimes it’s hard to identify the object, so you need to read what it’s called. There are also little text boxes occasionally to teach you mechanics or give you the scoring structure for minigame levels, but you can use the built-in zoom feature on these, and they’re not super necessary anyway.
Handheld Play 9/10
I didn’t have any complaints about the handheld play that aren’t inherent to handheld play. Everything is smaller, therefore a little harder to deal with, especially given the resolution issues, but that’s not a fault of the handheld functions per se. I am docking a point just because with the resolution already being so bad, it getting any worse is… unhelpful.
Level of Precision Required for non-shooting mechanics 9/10
Level of Precision Required for shooting mechanics 4/10
So the platforming part of Yoshi is… pretty easy. It’s designed for younger players. It’s forgiving. The hit boxes on enemies are the size of a house. It’s as good as it’s gonna get for the most part. I’m docking a point because it can be hard to tell if you’ve gotten through a one-way platform enough to stand on it. There are a lot of platforms that you can jump up onto from below but then you can’t get down without running off the side of it. With the art style, it can be hard to tell if you’re fully standing on the platform. But if you slightly undershoot the jump, just hit the jump button again and you’ll jump higher the next time. There’s pretty much no punishment for missing it and trying again.
The shooting mechanics… Yeah, you need to be pretty precise with this one. There are some scenes that give you a bunch of fake smiley flowers and one real smiley flower to shoot. These are pretty miserable because you have to look at the facial expression of the flower to tell if it’s real or not, and you frequently have objects obscuring your view. The shape and colors are the exact same. And everything moves while you’re trying to shoot it! If you get the egg close to what you want to hit, though, you’ll probably hit it. Again, the hit boxes are quite generous. That doesn’t help you if you can’t find the object, though.
Controls and Depth Perception 5/10
The controls aren’t terrible. Yoshi has his signature jumping style that I personally find very annoying because it makes it even harder to see if you’ve landed on those semi-permeable platforms. However, I can live with that. It’s his signature move.
The depth perception makes controlling your actions very difficult. The additional tracks aren’t used constantly, but they’re pretty frequent. You also have a handful of levels that allow travel along tracks that are at a 45-degree angle or in a spiral. These control really weird. Jumping while on one of these tracks is not recommended because, very confusingly, you don’t always land back on the track. Moving your joystick in the direction of the track doesn’t really work. The joystick still seems to only read left and right inputs even though the track is going at an angle… But these sections are very limited, so it doesn’t break the game. I can probably count all the times they’re used on one hand.
Misc. (Minor spoiler alert)
I’m going to mention something that I had not anticipated would be an issue. In one of the dark levels, you get chased by a Shy Guy with an axe. (Now that I go back and research this to write this, it might be a clown. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the guy holding the axe. I was mainly focused on the axe.) And the axe is pretty realistic looking because everything is dark. And I am only slightly ashamed to admit that that ruffled me. I was not expecting it. The game is rated E, and I checked the ESRB page and it said “Some enemies drop cartoony bombs or briefly chase Yoshi with a tinfoil axe.” I think if I could see better, I would have noticed that it was a tinfoil axe. For some reason, though, it did not look tinfoil at all. It was really shocking to be playing a very child-friendly game and then AXE MURDERER. And you can’t jump on his head or anything. You just have to run full out to get away from him. Then you think you’ve made it and THERE ARE MORE.
I am very sensitive to violence in video games, so I recognize that probably 99% of people won’t care about this at all, but just FYI. Especially if you’re looking at this for a very young and visually impaired kid. I can guarantee that it would have given me nightmares as a child, but again, I am super sensitive. Even as an adult, I don’t think I’ve ever played a rated T game. I have one that I’m thinking I might play to review, but I’m really on the fence if I’m brave enough.
Recommendation for visual skills needed for enjoyment
To enjoy bopping shy guys on the head, I think you can probably get away with 20/800 here fairly easily. For the shooting mechanics… you’re probably going to want somewhere in the neighborhood of 20/400. If you want to be able to tell the real smiley flowers from the fake smiley flowers and find the poochy pups… you need better than I’ve got. I’m going to guess somewhere around 20/60, but it could easily be too hard with 20/60 to find all those poochy pups and souvenirs and hidden robots and whatever else there is.
There’s a reason why blind people don’t tend to play Where’s Waldo.
Overall, I recommend this game to people who are already Yoshi fans. If you already like Yoshi, this is definitely a Yoshi game. It’s much more in line with Yoshi’s Wooly World than with the old games but it’s still Yoshi. I also recommend this game for young kids, though maybe secretly play through the ghost world for them if they’re sensitive to scary stuff. Beyond that, it’s definitely not a bad game, but it relies a lot on the shooting mechanics to get most of the collectibles, so the more completionist types aren’t going to have a very good time given all the difficulties. There’s also nothing super compelling here to make it worth it for more serious players. But if you’re looking for something that’s really darn cute and pretty easy, this is a great choice. Accessibility-wise though, this is a green-spotted, rotten egg.