All week, my husband’s been hinting of a present in the mail. This fact is probably more exciting than the present itself, because all week, he’s been refusing to tell me what was coming.
It turns out that this was because it’s not, strictly speaking, a present for me. It’s Yoshi’s Woolly World, a new Nintendo video game, which is, well. Hard to describe is the least of it.
Imagine walking into the baby section of the store, but instead of feeling vaguely awkward and like people are staring at you, judging your every twitch, you are actually met with a hug from a giant teddy bear as little knit booties shower down and babies giggle and gurgle. It’s like that, only instead of a teddy bear, the main character’s a green dinosaur-lizard plushie thing, and you can’t touch it.
Except, you can. Because my husband not only bought the game, he ordered the little knit plushie that goes with it. For those in the know, it’s an amiibo. For the rest of us, it’s an adorable mini-me of the game character who interacts with what’s happening on the screen.
So here I am, in my bathrobe, typing, while my new cuddly-toy friend sits on the Wii U controller and my husband does his screen and the game soundtrack makes the noise of a mildly frustrated two-year-old. A sweet-natured, concentrating two year old who is just on the verge of knocking the block-tower over and giggling madly.
I think, at this point, both you and I are asking: what in the name of heaven and earth has my husband brought into our home?
The game is a platformer–think early Mario games, where the plumber jumps around a lot and kills Goombas. Or is killed by them, in my case. It’s like that, with lots of running, jumping, and unraveling enemies to turn them into little balls of yarn which you can then use to destroy more enemies. All of this set in a knit yarn-and-felt world in which everything is made of brilliant sewing-box textures. On the level my husband’s plowing through right now, Yoshi’s pushing around what appears to be a knit ball to pop sponges and find treasure.
The only problem with this game I can see so far is that I’m terrible at platformers. Platformers, in my experience, are the sort of games that gently lead you by the hand for three levels, then cheerfully dump you in boiling oil and ask why you’re burning to death instead of swimming. Being good at them takes a kind of bloody-minded stubbornness that I just don’t go in for. Except, once again, this game defies expectations with what my husband refers to as “infant mode,” aka easy. And unlike the last game I played that had easy mode, where I still died every other minute, you just can’t die in Yoshi’s easy.
Of course, as far as we’ve figured, you can’t die in normal mode either, so there is that.
Don’t let the fuzzy-wuzzy look and sound of the game fool you; really, the plot is quite deep: a wizard is going around and unraveling all of Yoshi’s friends, and Yoshi must restore them by in turn unraveling the soldiers of his enemy. It’s a theme that neatly illustrates the dichotomy of sacrifice–to fight monsters, we must become monsters, much like Yoshi, who battles unmaking with unmaking. An eye for an eye, a knit bobble for a knit bobble, he understands that a path of peace will not save his brothers; his sacrifice ensures their freedom.
My husband thought this was reading into a tad bit, but I stand by my reasoning. Under this game’s kid-friendly exterior, we are basically playing a cold-blooded hit man who uses his enemy’s desecrated corpses as weapons.
Okay, that might be a bit harsh.
Mind you, I’m not playing, I’m just sitting here watching, which to me, is far more fun. Last summer, my parents and I spent hours engrossed by my husband’s exploits in Assassin’s Creed, marveling both at the graphics and the ease in which he navigated them. Even after three years of playing games, I can’t come close to rivaling his prowess with a controller. Yoshi has a two player mode, but all I do in it is trail Player 1, falling off crocheted trees and attempting to eat the walls instead of the Shy Guy enemies. It’s annoying enough for me that we’ve come to compromise: he plays and I watch, cuddling with the plushy and pointing out the occasional missed jewel or hidden room as I see them. Thus, we are both enjoying ourselves.
So there you go. If you have a Wii U, a bit of extra cash, some free time, and someone else who can play for you, Yoshi’s Woolly World is an adorable way to spend the afternoon. Or morning. Or, you know, both. Unless, of course, your gamer gets too annoyed at missing yet another yarn skein and has to go take a break before they play that level again, because this game is actually rather tricky and imperfection will not be tolerated.
Seriously, deep morals. Ya know.