GameTech: Crafted World will put a smile on your face

Yoshi's Crafted World is a cardboard- cutout platformer. Don’t take that the wrong way, though. This is anything but standard fare. Yoshi is the hipster version of Mario. Nintendo first introduced their dinosaur sidekick in Super Mario World, with Mario riding on Yoshi’s back to get extra speed and a flutter jump, while eating berries along the way. Since then, Yoshi has had three games of his own, each one putting a unique slant on the original Mario gameplay.

In Crafted World, Nintendo perform a nice card trick — by placing Yoshi in a landscape made from cardboard cutouts. The result is a beautiful diorama aesthetic, where Yoshi interacts with the enemies and scenery in a variety of clever ways. Both the foreground and background become part of the design, meaning players can ‘spit’ out projectiles at enemies and objects.

As such, Crafted World becomes a pleasing amalgam between traditional 2D platforming and simple shooting mechanics, with most of the challenge coming from discovering the hidden secrets in the environment or in looking for paths forward in the level.

If it isn’t clear already, charm is the biggest selling point in Crafted World. Dressing Yoshi in various silly cardboard outfits and watching Nintendo’s level design unfold is the primary reason for playing — don’t expect Mario levels of precision platforming. Crafted World has an easy-going co-operative mode too, which makes the journey all that more fun.

It’s no coincidence that Yoshi’s Crafted World is reminiscent of an Art teacher’s homework assignment. Best played with younger children or with a casual gamer partner, it’s the kind of game designed to put a smile on your face. Beautifully crafted.

HAND-DRAWN GAMING

There are many ways of crafting a game, but hand-drawn 2D art is one of the most difficult. When an old game gets a sequel, developers often tend to opt for 3D models instead, to make the process quicker and cheaper.

To our surprise, Streets of Rage 4, a sequel to one of Ireland’s most beloved beat-em-up Mega Drive games, will be using a gorgeous hand-drawn art style instead of 3D modelling. The last game in the franchise came 20 years ago, with most gamers assuming the series was dead. However, indie team DotEmu acquired the rights and are planning on releasing a full sequel this year.

There’s a teaser trailer online, with the game also being shown at the PAX conference recently. The results are likely to make fans very happy indeed, with Streets of Rage 4 looking instantly recognisable, with heroes Axel and Blaze beating down familiar enemies with their iconic move-sets intact. Notably, the art style immediately jumps out as a huge evolution for the series. It’s exactly as you remember Streets of Rage, but with far superior animation and resolution.

So far, only two characters have been confirmed and there are still plenty of unanswered questions. How many levels will there be? Will there be 4-player co-op? The thumping soundtrack made Streets of Rage special, so will composer Yuzo Koshiro return? We will craft you an update when we learn more.

CRAFTY PLAY

Finally, crafting of a different kind has taken over gaming in the last decade. Most big-budget games involve some form of ‘crafting’ in their gameplay, tasking players with mining, harvesting, hunting and combining various materials to create better items and equipment.

However, hardcore RPG Outward has taken things to the extreme. The premise of Outward is pretty simple — what would it really be like to live in a magical, fantasy world, as an ordinary person? The answers, according to early reports of the game, is that we would die —many times.

In Outward, you are not the ‘chosen one’, so you have to work extra hard to gain any kind of advantage or ability that will make you more powerful.

There are no statistics driving your character, like with standard RPGs. Instead, you have to craft items that give you boosts, or painstakingly learn spells that require proper ritual to cast.

So far, reports claim that Outward is an interesting option for hardcore RPG fans, but a little unforgiving in terms of deaths and hardship.

Nonetheless, a crafty player might find a way to prosper.

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