This Criminally Overlooked Nintendo Platformer Deserves You Full Attention

Five years later, it’s still an underrated classic.

by Ashley Oh
Yoshi's Crafted World video game still
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Five years ago, on March 29, 2019, Nintendo released one of the most precious games to ever exist. I use the word precious because it goes beyond nostalgia. It calls on a time where living mostly meant existing in a land ruled by crayons, construction paper, and mandated playtime. Playing this game is like a guided meditation. Smartphones do not exist yet. Social media hasn’t been invented. You are too small for email. There are unlimited materials for arts and crafts.

Everything you see here is like finally being able to physically see what you saw when playing pretend as a kid. If your imagination defined the shapes, Nintendo colored them in with Yoshi’s Crafted World.

Yoshi’s Crafted World also plays with its 2.5D perspective, sometimes shifting from sides-croller to full-on 3D.


Games that rely on physical texture as integral to the story constitute a rare but wonderful genre (Tearaway, Paper Mario, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse) but most tend to favor one type like paper or clay. A spiritual successor to 2015’s Yoshi’s Woolly World, this iteration shifts a singular focus from yarn to a variety of materials easily found around the house. In doing this, Yoshi’s Crafted World constantly re-examines the mundane with fresh eyes. A toilet paper tube becomes the body of a rocket flying in a galaxy, ninjas take cover in green plastic straws that stand in for a bamboo forest. It’s eye-opening how many worlds can be created from what we’d normally throw into a bin and forget about.

Yoshi’s Crafted World also played with 2.5D perspective, allowing the player to sometimes shift from a side-scroller view to 3D. Any time Yoshi made a turn and the landscape rotated, I remembered the shoebox diorama I made in elementary school: a complete scene contained in its own tiny world, camouflaged by a giant Skechers logo on the lid. It isn’t until I lift the top and rotate the box that it springs to life. Suddenly red yarn lava flows down from a clay volcano as a green brachiosaurus I taped to the foreground watches with wide eyes. (I inexplicably recreated the destruction of the dinosaurs a lot as a child.) Crafted World is the same. Folded paper trees prop themselves up as you consider entering a forest level, red roads unfurl from a neat coil to welcome you like a generous Fruit By the Foot at snack time. It invites you into this small world by virtue of simply being witnessed.

It’s eye-opening how many worlds can be created from what we’d normally throw into a bin and forget about.


Where many games strive to look perfect and clean, Yoshi’s Crafted World embraces flaws and the creation process, making imperfections look downright cozy. Paper butterflies fly with the assistance of scotch tape and wooden skewers while aluminum foil stars dangle from sewing thread. These small details remind us that making the thing is just as fun and important as the final product. They imbue the same warmth that fond childhood memories radiate, and feel way more beloved than factory-made perfection.

This homegrown feeling is something Nintendo was leaning hard into during this time. After all, Nintendo Labo released in 2018, only a year prior to Crafted World’s release. For those who don’t remember, the Labo was a series of cardboard kits that transformed aspects of the Switch into “Toy-Cons” like a functional mini piano or a fishing rod. With both the Labo and Crafted World, Nintendo successfully chartered a marriage between the modern technological capabilities of game hardware and the timeless charm of DIY toys.

An entire B-side to the game adds Poochy to the mix.


To call attention to the obvious, Crafted World is also just really freaking cute. All of the Yoshi costumes are “handmade” (e.g. orange juice carton, coffee creamer pod, etc.) and can be obtained through various capsule machines. There’s even an entire B-side to the game that involves Poochy! It’s always one adorable surprise after another.

Lastly, Crafted World brought about a stunning realization that Yoshi is perhaps not the smooth reptilian creature we all know from almost every other Nintendo game. Unlike Woolly World, the texture on these Yoshis doesn’t appear to have a direct connection to the crafty central theme. In fact, close inspection shows they’re actually fuzzy, something akin to the flocked plastic that covers the Sylvanian Families. This simple detail triggered a cascade of questions: Is it some sort of suede or plush towel? Are these Yoshis a mutated variant or is this the true texture? Why are we spending so much time looking at water in engine demos when we could be using this tech to speculate on the texture of a Yoshi?

Whatever the reason, we need more Yoshi games to find out. Who knows what other secrets they hold?

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