Impressions

Yoshi’s Crafted World: First impressions

There’s a handful franchises of Nintendo that I really enjoy. Mario is the prime one followed closely by Kirby. However since Yoshi’s Woolly World I have to add the Yoshi franchise to the list aswell. In light of this information it should come as no surprise that I picked up Yoshi’s Crafted World aswell when it came out this week. Unfortunately the Switch screenshots aren’t always that good so my apologies for the one heading this post, I just wanted to give an impression of how the game looked.Anyway I’ve played for a few hours now and wanted to give my first impressions of this game and the things I have discovered so far. I am giving a fair warning now, I am going into some detailed things that I’ve found over the first 2-3 hours of playtime so if you want to stay spoilerfree turn away now!

“Story”
The story like in the previous Yoshi entries is a simple one. The Yoshi’s live happily on their island with the Sundream Stone who makes all their dreams come true. Ofcourse Kamek and Baby Bowser caught wind of this and try to steal the sun stone, breaking it in the process and scattering all the Dreamstones across multiple worlds. You are tasked to find the stones and make the Sundream Stone whole again. Throughout the game you are being thwarted by Kamek and Baby Bowser but you also meet new friends and come across some familiar ones!
All in all it’s  a simple setup, nothing too fancy. It’s a very kid friendly story but that’s something I’ve come to expect from the Yoshi franchise thus far.

Gameplay and levels
The gameplay for this game is the standard Yoshi gameplay. You swallow enemies with B and create eggs with most of them which you can then aim and throw at almost anything in the world. Yoshi’s still flutter when you press A for jumping a bit longer and Yoshi has a ground pound. There’s nothing too fancy about the gameplay, I guess to keep it simple for the kids aswell.
Right at the start of the game you are asked if you want to play the game on “Easy” or “Classic” mode. From what I’ve seen Easy mode doubles the amount of eggs you create when swallowing an enemy and it will let you know when a flower, one of the many collectibles in the game, is nearby. I’ve opted to play on Classic mode myself since the game is simple enough as is so I don’t need it to be even easier. You are free to chose the colour of your Yoshi, there’s 8 total, and you can switch colour any time. As seen on the above screenshot I’m currently playing with the purple variant but I’m thinking about switching to Orange or Lightblue next time I start up the game.

Collectability is a big thing in this game. The levels themselves aren’t hard and you can probably rush through them in two or three minutes but that’s not where this game shines. It shines in the collectibles and replayability of the levels themselves.
On your initial playthrough of a level there’s a few things to collect:

  • Flowers. Flowers are hidden throughout all the levels and it’s up to you to find them and obtain them. Some levels only contain five flowers but I’ve already had a level with ten aswell. Flowers are also the main currency needed to open up new sub zones within worlds, so if you lack them you need to go back to your previous levels and collect more of them if possible.
  • Hearts. Yoshi starts off with about half a heart bar. If you play the level right you end up with a full hearts bar which in turn awards you with a flower.
  • Red coins. Red coins, like flowers, are hidden throughout the level. There’s 20 to obtain each level and some of them can be really well hidden. If you obtain all 20 in a level it awards you with a flower.
  • Gold coins. Gold coins are scattered throughout the level and easy to obtain. When you meet a certain amount required per level you will be awarded with a flower. Next to collecting them for flowers Gold coins are the currency needed to obtain costumes.

Yoshi train costume

So far the collectibles have been quite standard. They’re all known from previous Yoshi franchises and shouldn’t surprise you in any way. However in Yoshi’s Crafted World there are myriads of ways to obtain collectibles and they’ve added a few more things to collect outside of the items I’ve already mentioned.

  • Costumes. Costumes are essentially “armour” that Yoshi can wear as you play through the levels with him. There’s three tiers of costumes, with the golden type being the most rare and awarding the most extra armour. Costumes are obtained from a gumball type machine at the end of each world that you need to feed Gold coins. It’s 100 Gold coins per costume and there’s ten costumes to get per sub zone. Luckily for us you’re not dependant on RNG, you can only get each costume once. You can switch between costumes freely and they are registered in your Scrapbook tab in the menu.
  • Crafts. Crafts are another collectible you can find in the levels, once you have initially played through them. You get assignments to find certain crafts within the levels and if you find (all of) them you get a flower for each turn in. They also register in your Scrapbook.
  • Poochy Pups/Flipside. Once you get a few levels into the game you run into an old friend. With this help an extra layer is added onto the levels: the Flipside. Basically it’s playing the original level in reverse. In the Flipside you are tasked to find Poochy pups and if you do that within a certain time limit you get extra rewards. Again the rewards here are flowers. Once you open up the Flipside of the levels you also get more tasks to find Crafts. The normal levels are then called “Front side”. As sidenote, it’s not possible to collect coins or flowers in the flipside of a level, only Poochy pups and Crafts.

Taking all of the above into consideration it makes the replayability of the levels high. Essentially you are sent back to a level multiple times to gather all the collectibles there are to gather. It’s not necessarily needed to complete the game but it adds an extra layer to the simplistic gameplay that is the Yoshi franchise. It also has you actually look at the levels in more detail than you normally would. Lots of things are hidden in the back (or fore) ground and especially Crafts are sometimes hard to spot. It helps you appreciate the amount of detail the developers have put into the game and it also “trains” your brain in a way because you are constantly looking for things.

Graphics and music
As I mentioned before the screenshots don’t really do it justice but the game is gorgeous and top notch as we’ve gotten used to from Nintendo. The colours are vibrant, the structures are pronounced. I can see how the Yoshi’s, who are made of felt, are in stark contrast to the cardboard world. There’s a lot of detail that has gone into each level so it’s a joy to watch and discover everything as you play through. Even the use of focus/blurring is done very well and makes for a natural flow as you move from the front to the back of a level and vice versa.
The music is cheery and simple like in most games. I like playing with the sounds and music on, it doesn’t grate on the ears so far. I’ve only played through four levels though so the music variety hasn’t been super big but so far I’m enjoying it. The sound effects do add this extra touch to the game that I think would be very bland otherwise. Hitting cardboard structures makes cardboard sounds, Yoshi itself sounds very cute and so far the enemy sounds have made sense aswell. It so far has not made me want to turn my sound off so that’s a big win.

Overall first impression
So far I’m quite happy with my purchase. Although the game is on the easy side there’s enough challenge in it to make the purchase worth while as fan of the franchise. The game is beautiful and vibrant and lifts your spirits as you play through it. The replayability of the levels is high due to the massive amount of collectibles that are present in the game. It’s the perfect game to relax to for an hour or two after work ór when you’re feeling a bit glum and need cheering up.
Is it innovative? Yes in some ways and no in others. Did Nintendo lift the franchise to a new level? Maybe, I think it’s on the same level as Yoshi’s Woolly World when it comes to visuals and gameplay even though they’ve put in some interesting gimmicks in this one and added even more reasons to replay levels.

Would I recommend this game? If you want a relaxing experience and if you think hunting for collectibles is more fun than challenging levels this is the game for you. I fear however that the game is “too easy” for the more veteran gamers who will be done with most of it in a very small timeframe. This is a game you don’t want to rush but that you want to enjoy and take your time on. For a Yoshi game it’s an excellent entry in the franchise and a day one/week one pick up for fans. If you’re on the fence about this game however I’d advise you to wait untill it eventually will be discounted and pick it up then.

Blade and Soul: First Impressions

Sandrianne, the Force masterIntroductions need to be made! I installed and started to play Blade and Soul yesterday. I made two characters over on the Hao District server.. Which was one of the recommended ones at the time. As I log in today there is an 800 people queue and I more or less gave up on logging in at all. Mostly because dinner is due to arrive at any minute, but also because I really don’t want to wait that long to get into the game at the moment.

Anyway, the moment I started looking at this game I fell in love with two races. The Lyn and the Yun. I made a Yun Blademaster at first, but didn’t like how she turned out so she is pending to be deleted. On my second character creation try I made this cute little Lyn Forcemaster and am absolutely loving her. It’s probably the least sexualized race in the game, which also helps. I guess Korean gaming standards are a bit different than the ones we have in the west… Because man, bouncy boobs everywhere! Also seriously out of proportion characters. It’s a bit wacky to see here and there, but I guess everyone is happy with this.

First Glances
My initial impression of the character creator is very good. There’s lots of options and you can really customize your character a lot. I think you can easily spend an hour or two tweaking away untill you have the perfect representation of you. I don’t really have the patience for this so I stuck to changing mostly the coulors, bodytype and ears/tail etc. I’m a bit sad you can’t change ear/tail colour on Lyn to match the haircolour, I hope they change this in the future.

After making my character I was able to immediatly hop into a server to play. The combat strongly reminds me of Neverwinter, which I spent about an hour playing before I gave up. It’s much more dynamic than I remember Neverwinter to be though, so that’s a very good thing. I have to say, it really takes some getting used to the mouse essentially being a fixed point on your screen. It changes the entire way the MMO plays, but not necessarily in a bad way. I got used to it really fast anyway and am taking down enemies and talking to people without any issues at all.

I haven’t played enough to really grasp the atmosphere of the game well, although the NPC’s so far are quite cliché. Also the amount of ridiculously big bouncy boobies or, for the men, overly muscular dudes is kind of annoying. I couldn’t stand looking at one myself, hence I opted to create a Lyn. Graphics wise I’m pretty sure my PC doesn’t do the game justice. I’m sure it can look much prettier than it actually does with my PC, although even for me it doesn’t look that bad and I seem to have no major FPS drops.

The Queue Thing
The one major downside to this game is that the queue times are seriously ridiculous. Even on a low pop server like Hao District (or well it was when I made my character) I was faced with an 800+ people queue during primetime. I can only imagine the already highly populated servers being much worse. Today NCSoft announced they are adding more servers to lighten the queue load, but honestly the two that the EU region has gotten is not nearly enough. I hope this doesn’t cause people to stop playing, because this game has it to actually be a decent MMO.

Final Verdict (for now)
A fun and different MMO to stick your nose into. The character creator is awesome, the gameplay is different but not bad. If you’re into KungFu and like the Korean MMO style this is definately something to consider playing, especially with it being F2P.
The only major downside I see for now is the annoying queue times, I will probably do a follow up on this post after I’ve been able to play more and can say more about the content itself.