Yoshi's Crafted World - Deep Dive

Those who have already read our review may have an idea as to where this post is going. Whilst we mentioned this is still a great game, it just doesn't live up to Woolly World, and looking back on the titles development, we have come to learn this may not have been the case. Join us as we deep dive into the development of Yoshi's Crafted World for the Nintendo Switch!

This isn't the first Yoshi game in recent times to see a delay, we first saw a delay of Yoshi's Woolly World, which we briefly touched upon in our original review for Woolly World (if you want to know more about the differences, check out this video, because it seems Woolly World may have been drastically different, too). Woolly World went into hiding after it's initial reveal, and though Crafted World did as well, this time they'd already shown us a full length trailer, and some gameplay during E3. It's here we get a glimpse at what the game used to look like and what changed during development.

Yoshi's Crafted World was first revealed at E3 2017 - which is where we get a lot of this pre-release content from - and slated for a 2018 release. Obviously, the game was delayed and didn't appear again until last years September Nintendo Direct.

Though no official level titles were given, E3 2017's Treehouse granted us two full level playthroughs, which we believe to be Sunshine Station's Rail-Yard Run and Rumble Jungle's Exploring the Animal Kingdom. We'll go through the differences between these two levels below.

First we have Rail-Yard Run. This level actually changed a lot in the final, and almost nothing seen in this demo made it into the final product, other than a few assets here and there. It's still a very basic level with not a whole lot going on, which is why we believe it to be the opening level. The tunnel and cup that appear at the start of the level appear here, though in this play through the cup has a bottom that pops out. It also has a train that appears, though it doesn't seem to be anywhere near as integral to the level than it does in Railroad Run. 

When you look at these levels back-to-back, you can really see how it evolved into Rail-Yard Run from this initial concept. For example, when they throw an egg at a building to unlock the path, the area they go to has a lot of resemblances to the corresponding area in the final game, where the player has to collect the missing parts of the train after throwing an egg at a building to unlock the path. Do note that this build has seven Smiley Flowers, where the final has five.

Once they complete the level normally, the host then mentions going to the home screen to play through the level on the flip side. The two main differences here however, are the missing Poochy Pups, and the fact the level starts at the beginning  when playing through the flip side. In the final version, playing through the flip side would have you play through the level in reverse, and you would start at the levels end. Playing through the flip side reveals a lot more secrets, and really shows off their initial vision for what the flip side aspect of the game was supposed to bring to the table. If you want to check this level out for yourself, but haven't purchased the game yet, it just so happens that this level is in the demo version of the game. So any keen eye viewers who want to see the changes for themselves can do so by downloading the demo from the eShop.

Rail-Yard Run - E3 2017

The second level they play through seems to be the Rumble Jungle stage "Exploring the Animal Kingdom". After noticing a lot of differences during the original demonstration, we decided to go through the levels ourselves and see what changed exactly. Here is us going through the level in the final game.

The 2017 Treehouse segment, however, is very different to what we just played through. First of all, the magnet section at the start of the level is displayed as birds, but here it's changed to koalas. The lily pads that also appear constantly throughout the level have been replaced by rocks and bridges. Eventually they reach the familiar Giraffe-car section, though here it appears much earlier. After the car section, we are greeted by a beautiful tree, and the two players perform a simultaneous ground-pound which flips the stage around. After travelling along the giraffes neck, they reach the rhino section. The mechanics and area are the same (including the secret underground area), though the layout is a little different. A Shy Guy is also controlling the rhino, rather than it being its own being. 

Exploring the Animal Kingdom - E3 2017

After completing the first rhino section, they use magnets and the double ground-pound to further explore the stage, which reveals a baby rhino. This area of the level seems to have been cut completely, and instead replaced with the bridge section, where we reunite the two rhinos. They are then stuck by a puzzle, where they must collect magnets to weigh down a magnetic bird to open the door. This part doesn't appear in this level in the final game, but does appear in the Mousers and Magnets stage. After opening the door, they enter the final area of the level, being the gators, though the area saw a redesign. In this version of the game, landing on the gators heads wont damage the player, unlike in the final.

Exploring the Animal Kingdom - E3 2017

Exploring the Animal Kingdom - Final

And that's it for the Treehouse gameplay. There are a lot of changes that didn't make it into the game, which seemed to have changed the games vision entirely. Whilst this is our own speculation here, it seems likely the original game was to have more of a focus on multiplayer, as well as using the background, foreground, and flip mechanic to further progress the levels. In the final game, the flip mechanic is only unlockable after completing the level normally, and only then is used to collect Poochy Pups. Honestly, what we received seems like a let down compared to what we could have got instead. For whatever reason, their original vision for the flip side mechanic wasn't working, so they had to change it. What we ended up with was a tedious and unnecessary Poochy Pup hunt, that looks as if it were only shoehorned in because they'd already shown off the flip side mechanic.

A couple of other things we did notice in the Treehouse include the Shy Guy's shooting cannon balls. These enemies don't appear anywhere in the final level of the game, and don't actually appear as enemies until after the main story
. The shadow effect when hidden behind an object also doesn't appear in the final, and Smiley Flowers would appear in reverse at the top if collected through the opposite side.

One of the biggest issues we had with the flip side levels is they just felt like a chore. You were racing the clock to grab the Poochy Pups, but there wasn't much else else to do. You're too pressed for time to get a proper look at how the world looks on the flip side, and there aren't any coins that appear if you wish to unlock all the costumes. Of course, you could use the souvenir tasks to take in the surroundings, but there still aren't any coins to collect. Why this was changed is unknown, maybe the game just wasn't fun, or relied too much on multiplayer, but it doesn't stop there. During E3 2017, we were lucky enough to see a short trailer of the game.

The trailer shows off a couple more levels, which we believe to be Dino Smash, a stage that seems to resemble all Ninjarama levels, Many Fish in the Sea, and the Gator Train boss battle. We also see a volcano level that appears to have been cut entirely. Since we've already covered Rail-Yard Run and Exploring the Animal Kingdom, we'll omit them here.

First up is the cut volcano level, which we believe later became Poochy's Magma Run, as it's the only level in the game to feature a volcano. We only see a small glimpse, but it's safe to say this level got scrapped. The one we see here is more mountainous, and the one we ended up has a lot more lava. The cup mechanic which mimics erupting volcanoes seems to have been reused as ping-pong balls in the Windward Way level, but the actual level itself goes unused, which is a shame since it looks really cool.

Up next is a short look at Dino Smash, which looks like it remained pretty much the same, though the skulls saw a redesign, now donning more realistic, sharper horns, and the area  shown doesn't appear in the final level. There isn't much to say here. Since this part is so small, we'll also mention Many Fish in the Sea here, which tells the same tale as Dino-Smash - same concept, but doesn't appear in the final.

Dino Smash - E3 2017

It's this next level where things pick up a bit. As previously mentioned, this level seems to resemble all three Ninjarama levels, being Deceptive Doors, Behind the Shoji, and The Shogun's Castle - albeit barely. The small area we see doesn't resemble anything in either levels, other than the shoji screen, of course. Because of this, it is possible this was an early concept of Behind the Shoji. There's also a level that uses light switches, and this doesn't appear anywhere in the Ninjarama levels, or game in general. A similar concept does appear in the Shadowville world, though the execution is entirely different.

Unknown Levels - E3 2017

Then finally we see the Gator Train Attacks boss fight, which is drastically different. Even though we only see a few short seconds, this boss battle seems to have originally taken place on the ground, instead of on top of a moving train. It's interesting to note that the gator train is a rather late game boss, and likely was meant to appear much earlier in the game, along side the Rumble Jungle stages which also appear much later.

Gator Train - E3 2017

Gator Train - Final

Looking at all this footage makes it seem that the flip mechanic was going to be a lot more integral to the game play, rather than being a one-off novelty after completing each level. In both the Treehouse demonstration levels we see the flip side mechanic as being integral to the level design. So what could have happened to cause the game to undergo such a change? Obviously there was something going on behind the scenes which caused the game not to show for over a year, and it was during this era that the gameplay was changed. Even if the core mechanic of how the flip side feature changed, it's still peculiar to see some levels cut entirely. Maybe they relied too heavily on the flip side feature to complete, and had to be cut, or maybe it was something entirely different? For now, we'll never know.

Whether this games intentions was to heavily rely on multiplayer or not is yet to be known. As time goes on, I'm sure we'll learn more about what could have been, but for now, this is all we've got.


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