Yoshi Touch & Go Review

Yoshi Touch & Go

Yoshi Touch & Go was one of the earlier games released on the Nintendo DS. As such, it fell under the category of early DS titles that were more about showcasing the DS’ capabilities than they were about delivering deeper gameplay experiences. The good news is that Yoshi Touch & Go provided a good example of touchscreen controls and took advantage of the DS’ duel screens in innovative ways. The bad news is that Yoshi Touch & Go can only hold your interest for so long, and its translation onto the Wii U’s Virtual Console can be a bit of a mixed bag.

 

Yoshi Touch & Go uses the setup and aesthetics of the SNES classic Yoshi’s Island, complete with cute visuals and simple but sweet music. Yoshi sets out to save a baby Mario from the clutches of Kamek and his minions, just as he did in the SNES original. The twist here is it places the events into a score attack game.

The gameplay is separated into two segments: One in which Baby Mario falls from the sky, with three balloons tied to his back, while the other sees Baby Mario riding on Yoshi’s back through a quasi-platformer.

The first segment has the top screen fixed on Baby Mario, with players needing to draw paths on the scrolling bottom screen to help guide where Baby Mario will go next, being sure to collect as many coins as possible for a higher score, and avoiding enemies so Baby Mario doesn’t lose any of his balloons.

The second segment turns things into a sidescroller, with Yoshi moving on his own on the bottom screen, requiring players to draw paths over gaps, tap the screen to throw eggs in order to defeat enemies and collect out of reach coins, and tap Yoshi himself to make him jump. Unlike Baby Mario in the first half of the gameplay, it only takes one hit to get a game over in Yoshi’s stage.

Both of these segments provide some fun, and no doubt they will have players trying to outdo their best scores. But the game has a distinct lack of variety. If you perform better during the Baby Mario portion, the Yoshi segment will see minor tweaks to make things more challenging for expert players, which is a nice touch. But you’re still more or less going through the same stage on repeat.

The game adds a little flair by including multiple modes: Score Attack sees things wrapped up in a complete little package, with Yoshi’s stage having a definitive end, leaving players to try and best their top scores within this miniature adventure. Marathon, on the other hand, has no end, and players are simply tested to see how far they can go.

Additionally, players can unlock Time Attack and Challenge modes, where they must continuously defeat enemies and grab coins to add time to a constantly ticking clock and put their skills to the test against enemy-riddled obstacle courses, respectively. The multiple modes all add nice spins to the formula, but the sheer lack of variety in the core gameplay prevents Yoshi Touch & Go from feeling like anything more than a fun little tech demo.

Yoshi Touch & GoIt should be noted that the game’s original release included a multiplayer Vs. mode, but that it is no longer functional in the Wii U Virtual Console release. So if you want to experience the game’s multiplayer mode, you and a buddy will need to play the game in its original form.

Another downside to playing the game on the Wii U is that Yoshi Touch & Go requires careful attention to what’s going on in both screens at all time. The Wii U features several play styles for DS rereleases, so look for the ones that put both screens onto the Gamepad, as anything else is more than a little tedious.

In the end, Yoshi Touch & Go can be a difficult recommendation today. Back in 2005 it was a nice showcase of the innovation the Nintendo DS brought to the table, and today its price of ten dollars is more reasonable than its full retail value of yesteryear. But given that you can download a classic like Super Mario 64 for the same price, Yoshi Touch & Go still costs more than it needs to.

Yoshi Touch & Go isn’t a bad game, it’s innovative and even provides some fun. But it’s an overall shallow experience that Nintendo could have expanded on to create a more complete game. A fun little diversion, but when you know what else the Virtual Console has to offer, Yoshi Touch & Go will probably be pushed to the back of the “must-haves” line.

 

5

Electroplankton Review

Electroplankton

When the Nintendo DS was first released, many of its games were little more than technical displays of the DS’ features. One such game was Electroplankton, which ranks among the strangest titles Nintendo has ever made.

That’s not to say it’s strange in the usual Nintendo sense of whimsy and surrealism. Rather, Electroplankton is a strange game because it’s hardly a game at all. It’s a title that allows players to tamper with nine different sound tests (each categorized by a different Electroplankton) to create unique melodies and sound effects. You can even record your own voice.

The way the game goes about these “mini-games” can be creative: One Electroplankton allows you to record voice samples to four fish-like creatures, which then play the samples back in unison as they swim by. Another has players change the trajectory of arrows, and as four different colored Electroplankton follow them, they create different melodies. These are among the more fun experiences in Electroplankton, but to say that the fun is short lived is an understatement.

Other Electroplankton games are so simplistic it’s close to shocking that they got their own category, instead of complimenting another: One Electroplankton has five records that the player can spin with the stylus to create (admittedly lovely) sounds, but spinning these records one way or another can only hold one’s interest for so long. Another game has players tapping the touchscreen to make Electroplankton eggs appear, which hatch seconds later to produce sounds. It’s games like this that require so little input they’d be better suited among WarioWare’s myriads of micro-games.

Possibly the game’s biggest downside is that you can’t save any of your work. Even if you’ve managed to create a cool and catchy little musical number, you’ll lose it as soon as you hit the B button and exit the mini-game in question. It’s a baffling piece of game design. Electroplankton is a game about creating music and sound that doesn’t let you keep any of your creations.

ElectroplanktonAt the very least, Electroplankton has some interesting aesthetics going for it, with its visuals being colorful and almost ghost-like, and its sound design is appropriately catchy (one of the more memorable Electroplankton lets you tamper with the invincibility theme from Super Mario Bros.). Its look and sound is unique enough that Nintendo’s decision to adapt them into a Super Smash Bros. stage isn’t too surprising.

The problem is that Electroplankton, despite its honest intentions at making a creative and soothing gaming experience, is just far too shallow to succeed. Perhaps with a host of additional Electroplankton or the ability to combine the existing ones, the game may have been a little more hefty. But Electroplankton ultimately feels flat, and the inability to save what you create just makes it sting all the more. Even in its day, Electroplankton felt a bit unfulfilled. Today it would barely even pass as an app on the 3DS’ home menu.

 

3