Yoshi’s Crafted World is already one of the best releases of the year and is a beautiful exploration through a world which is utterly charming. Yoshi games almost always feel wholesome, even if they can be hit and miss in the final execution. Yoshi’s Crafted World is no different.
The games works so well because it manages to evoke feelings of peace and tranquility. It is gaming at its most relaxed, but it is not shallow or empty. It even strays into a solarpunk narrative. The world is beautiful, and renewable energy is depended upon, particularly solar power. People help each other out. It feels even more magnificent playing as co-op than it does playing as an individual. There’s even a gorgeous moment where Yoshi hums to himself as he waits for the bus. Public transport is embraced, clean technologies and energies are mainstream, and co-operation is celebrated as Yoshi tries to protect his home and his friends.
So many Nintendo products have a similar feel. Yes, Yoshi and Mario games tend to have a Bowser battle but there’s no cops chasing Bowser. They always manage to get justice and sort out their disputes within their community. In Pokémon, friendship and companionship is at the heart of the story but the society is inherently political. There is free universal healthcare to all pokémon no matter their circumstances. Nintendo has, over the years, insisted that its games are politically neutral. But if dystopians are political then so to are utopian stories. We are getting a beautiful, wholesome and easy world but that doesn’t mean that it is apolitical. It is the world we aspire to, and love.
The problem is that we only recognise these worlds within the context of being ‘stories’. These principles which we applaud in games somehow became the enemy in real life in a fandom known for its toxicity. Free healthcare is good in pokémon and it is should be a right in real life. Renewable energy helps create a beautiful and sustainable world for Yoshi, and yet in real life we deny the conclusive scientific evidence which says it could do the same for us. We treat these games as frivolous fantasies which can provide escapism but the truth is more disturbing. We love these games because they give the social structure we need, but when presented with any opportunities to bring it about we tear it all down.
Nintendo is providing the utopian stories we need to connect with, but they also reveal just how we find it so easy to look after ourselves in a fictional space but when it comes to our ‘real lives’, we support divisions, inequality and oppression. Yoshi is a story of solidarity to other little pals, and to the wider ‘crafted’ world and as much as I love them, they aren’t enough to sustain in the long-term. I want a better world for us.