Build, Knit and Explore the Mushroom Kingdom

While Nintendo didn't have a new Mario game to show at E3 2014, they did have several new games related to the character, or more specifically, to the character’s friends.

Yoshi’s Woolly World is a side-scrolling platformer that feels a lot like an upgraded Kirby Epic Yarn, just with Mario’s pet dinosaur. That being said, this Wii U title looks leaps and bounds above the 2010 Wii title.

In Yoshi’s Woolly World, you will explore a land knitted and sewn together with a crocheted version of the hungry little guy. With Yoshi’s tongue as your primary weapon, you will unravel objects and enemies that block your path, and any enemies you happen to swallow up end up as a ball of yarn trailing behind you. These balls become ammo that you can spit back out in order to break through fluff or even apparently use to make permeable platforms something you can jump onto.

You can even have a second Yoshi join you and the pair can work together to solve problems, including sucking one Yoshi up to form a projectile ball if no enemies are available.

The developers of Yoshi’s Woolly World wanted to make a point of one of the primary distinctions between a Mario game and a Yoshi game, and that was a time limit. Since Yoshi games don’t have a clock to race against, the player is given the time and opportunity to explore a lot more, and they promised that there is a lot in the Woolly World to discover.

In Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, the iconic sidekick gets his very first starring role. Instead of giving Toad a platformer game to take command in, Nintendo has put this witty character into an adventure title where he has to trek through puzzle-filled compactly designed levels in order to find gems and gold stars.

Toad doesn’t have super powers, he can’t jump, and it looks like he will be running from more enemies than he will be defeating them. In fact, it looks like he has no innate ability to stop bad guys (which makes sense since the standard Mario is taken down by jumping on its head). Instead, he will have to stay ahead of the goombas, shy guys and other baddies in order to solve the many mysteries that are packed into each level.

Apparently a key element to each level’s design is perspective. Just because an area looks impassable or out of reach, doesn’t mean it actually is. Players must rotate the camera, or even use the Gamepad to get a first-person perspective of the level in order to see exactly what they are looking at in order to proceed.

Nintendo also announced a new product that isn’t a game, per se. Under the working title of Mario Maker, Nintendo is releasing a course editor to build side-scrolling Mario levels. Using the Gamepad, you will drag and drop level elements onto the screen and position them however you want. You can make warp pipes of varying lengths, breakable bricks, question mark blocks, coins, spring boards and a variety of enemies, plus you can play through your levels in both classic Super Mario Bros. style, or the more modern New Super Mario Bros. U flavor. Though the press information about Mario Maker implies that the ability to switch between the two graphical modes might be in the E3 version alone. Given that Nintendo hasn’t even announced the final name of this product yet, who knows exactly what features will be in the final product. One thing is clear though, this level editor is begging for online sharing capabilities.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is scheduled for release this Holiday season, but neither Yoshi’s Woolly World or Mario Maker are slated to come out until the first half of 2015.