Yoshi’s Story Review

Yoshi's Story

The Nintendo 64 marked a major turning point for Nintendo. The release of Super Mario 64 with the console’s launch set the stage for the rest of the N64’s lifecycle. Nintendo reinvented Mario for the world of 3D gaming, and so it was time for their other franchises to make the jump. Some would receive major overhauls similar to Super Mario 64, while others had less drastic changes. Many of Nintendo’s franchises would benefit from the leap to the N64, but others would stumble. Unfortunately, Yoshi wasn’t one of the lucky ones.

 

The SNES’ Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is one of the finest platformers ever made. It reinvented the Mario formula and had a sense of depth and inventiveness that few titles in the genre could match. On the surface, Yoshi’s Story seems to borrow much of its predecessor’s assets: It remained a sidescroller even with its 3D graphics. Yoshi can still gobble up enemies and throw eggs. He still has his flutter jump and butt stomp. And the Yoshi’s still come in an array of colors.

The connections with Yoshi’s Island all feel superficial, however. Because while Yoshi’s Story may share some of the basic tools of its predecessor, it retains none of the depth. Gone is Baby Mario in need of protection, as well as the exquisite level design, tight controls and vehicle transformations. Even Yoshi’s Island’s antagonist, Kamek, is MIA.

Instead the game sees a band of baby Yoshi’s out to save their island, after Baby Bowser has cast an evil spell to make the island’s residents unhappy, stealing the “Super Happy Tree” in the process just to pour salt on the wound. So the baby Yoshis seek to combat Bowser’s unhappiness with super happiness.

In order to obtain this super happiness, the Yoshi’s must consume fruit. Each Yoshi has a favorite fruit (Yellow Yoshi likes bananas, while the Blue Yoshis like grapes), and a single “lucky fruit” is chosen via roulette wheel at the beginning of every playthrough. Eating a favorite or lucky fruit refills a Yoshi’s health completely, whereas other fruit will only give back health in increments.

Yoshi's StoryYoshi’s Story actually included a pretty unique method of progressing through the levels. There’s no end goal to reach, and the only way to move on is by eating enough fruit. Unfortunately, the way you progress through the worlds is less interesting.

The game contains six worlds, each with four stages. But you are only able to play one level in each world in every playthrough. You can select which stage in the first world you want to tackle, but you’ll only have that option in the subsequent worlds if you can find all the hidden hearts on the previous level (each heart unlocks an additional level in the next world).

The levels themselves just aren’t very interesting. The game’s storybook-like aesthetics are fun (though less timeless than those of Yoshi’s Island), so the stages are pleasing to look at, but they’re all pretty basic. You can zip through them in a matter of minutes with little effort.

Bosses are only found in the third and sixth world, with the latter always being Baby Bowser. That’s two boss encounters in the story mode, and they are every bit as bland as the stages themselves.

Yoshi’s Story was clearly intended for younger audiences. That’s all good and fine, but Nintendo has made plenty of games for younger audiences that also have depth. Yoshi’s Story feels completely shallow when compared to the majority of Nintendo’s titles.

Yoshi's StoryNow, Yoshi’s Story does have its share of charm, to the point that I feel somewhat guilty in having to admit that the game is one of Nintendo’s weaker efforts. The aforementioned visual style is cute, and the pop-up book setups for the world map and cinematics are endearing. I like the idea of each Yoshi serving as an extra life (you can reclaim a lost Yoshi by finding the hidden white Shy Guys), and those aiming for high scores might actually get some fun out of the game’s Trial Mode. The music can also be pleasant, though some of it will probably be too sugary for some audiences.

The problem is that Yoshi’s Story just lacks substance in so much of what it does. The stage design feels uninspired, there’s little variety in the gameplay, you can breeze through the story mode in less than an hour, the secrets aren’t all that secret, Yoshi’s sense of control feels less fluid than in the SNES original. There’s just not much to it. Yoshi’s Story doesn’t feel like a sequel to Yoshi’s Island, it feels like Yoshi’s Island has been stripped of its qualities.

Yes, Yoshi’s Story is a kids’ game, and perhaps kids can find some enjoyment out of it. But it also seems like Yoshi’s Story feels the need to dumb itself down for kids, and that’s the exact opposite of the philosophy behind Nintendo’s best games.

 

4

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