Yoshi is back on babysitting duty in “Yoshi’s New Island.” “Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island,” released on the Super Nintendo in 1995, was the follow-up to one of the most popular Mario games – “Super Mario World” – and received great critical acclaim. It was re-released on the Game Boy Advance in 2002 and had a follow-up on the Nintendo 64, but none of them lived up to the quality of the first game. The original “Yoshi’s Island” felt like a huge departure from the rest of the series because it featured completely different mechanics and, for once, Mario was not the star of the game. Not only is Mario not the star, he is a helpless baby riding on Yoshi’s back while he does all the work.
Like most Mario games, there isn’t a ton of story; it is more about the fun of the gameplay. Yoshi is not trying to save a princess; he is just trying to get little Mario back to his parents because he isn’t just a vehicle – he is a loyal friend. The thing I liked most about the Yoshi games is the art style; it is much brighter and more colorful. It has beautiful graphics that look hand-drawn, and “Yoshi’s New Island” looks great with updated HD graphics and music. The graphics aren’t as crisp as the original, but this time, they are very stylish images that look like they where drawn with chalk. The graphics can also be enhanced by turning on the 3D; there are some really interesting uses of the 3D, where parts of the environment look like they are jumping right off the screen.
Although “Yoshi’s New Island” plays like a traditional platformer, Yoshi controls very differently than anyone else in the Mario series. He flutters his feet when he jumps, letting him hang in the air. He can pound the ground, and he can also eat all sorts of different things, turning them into eggs that he can throw as projectile weapons. In this game, he has several new tricks that he never had before. Now Yoshi can transform himself into different objects and vehicles, like submarines and jackhammers. He also has a new giant egg attack that really does a lot of damage to the environment.
Another new addition is motion controls, which kick in when Yoshi turns into a vehicle. You tilt your Game Boy to steer him around to navigate through those sections; it isn’t a groundbreaking feature, but it can be fun. The new additions are enjoyable, but they don’t make the game feel super innovative; one thing Nintendo does well is innovation in gameplay, but this game doesn’t feel that much different from the original.
Even if it does feel like several other platformers, that’s not a bad thing. The controls are very precise, and the levels are designed in interesting ways to take advantage of each of Yoshi’s moves. Similar to other Nintendo platform games, each level is jam-packed with secrets and collectibles to find. This leads to a ton of replay value for completionists who want to play a level again and again to find all of the secrets. Each of the game worlds end in a boss fight, and while most of the boss fights are very clever, some of them can get pretty frustrating when you die and you have to start the fight over.
“Yoshi’s New Island” includes six new two-player mini games. Most of them are simple time-based score challenges, but some of them have more interesting concepts, such as a long jump completion and a game to see how many of your friends you can eat and turn into eggs. These mini games are fun, but they aren’t incredibly deep. You might play them a few times, but they won’t bring you back again and again like the single player game.
Overall, I really liked “Yoshi’s New Island.” It is the first Yoshi game that has been out in a long time, and it is a welcome edition to the series. If you are an old school Mario fan or just a Nintendo fan in general, you will like “Yoshi’s New Island.” If you are looking for a fun platformer, then you should check out this game too; it is one of the best family friendly games that’s been released in a while and will keep you smiling for long while.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.