Ok, confession time. One of my favorite games of all time, regardless of how bad it was by most standards, was Yoshi’s Story for the Nintendo 64. Sure, it was overly cutesy and incredibly simple, but I had a lot of fun playing the game and could never get the soundtrack out of my head. This is, of course, in addition to loving the now-classic Yoshi’s Island on the SNES. When I recently invested in a 3DS for my household, Yoshi’s New Island was one of the games at the top of my list to pick up. Once again, I find myself thoroughly engulfed in Yoshi’s world despite having to once again acknowledge that this game has some major shortcomings and might be all-too-familiar for its own good..
When it comes to the story, you pretty much know the deal if you have played the first Yoshi’s Island; this story plays out as a bit of a retelling of that game, despite having a slightly new setting. While a stork is delivering Baby Mario and Baby Luigi to their parents across the sea for their introduction into the world, the evil Kamek makes an attempt to snatch up the plumbing duo. While Baby Luigi is ultimately captures, Baby Mario tumbles down to the Earth below and lands on a mysterious island known as Egg Island which is inhabited by the colorful and friendly Yoshi’s. As soon as his little bottom hits the ground, Baby Mario sets off determined to find his brother and unwilling to let such a helpless baby venture across the island on his own, the Yoshi’s decide to escort him along the way.
Once you’re on the road to Luigi’s rescue, everything old is new again. You control a Yoshi, with Baby Mario strapped on his back and have the ability to throw eggs at your enemies and the environment. It’s simple, effective, and most importantly fun. Just like the old game, you can swallow up your enemies with Yoshi’s familiar, long tongue and either spit them out at other enemies or squeeze them out as an egg for later use. There are a few new skills and tools at your disposal, which we will discuss shortly, but the bulk of your experience on Egg Island is based on these classic principals.
There is a little bit more than just platforming as the game institutes a bit of puzzle solving into the experience as you will have to strategically fire off your eggs to hit switches and collect hard to reach items like coins and collectibles. The eggs also come in handy when partaking in the game’s boss battles which become more about using your brain and skills with egg-throwing than pure muscle. It becomes about mastering the egg-throw and keeping in your toes more than anything, which is exactly what fans have grown to expect from the series. It’s a lot of what we have seen from this series before, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it leaves me wishing that there were more advancements made for the sake of advancing the series.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t any new elements, because there are. Just like Super Mario DS allowed Mario to grow to huge sizes and smash through the game world, Yoshi can create massive eggs by ingesting large enemies which, when hurled, plow through nearly everything in their path. It takes a perfectly aimed, massive egg in order to knock out everything in an area and collect all of the power ups, but it won’t matter because you always have an endless supply. It would have been a little more challenging had you been given limited chances to do this in the few areas that it is utilized. The game also makes an attempt to vary the gameplay experience on occasion by introducing Yoshi-transformations for a few sections throughout the game. These are special areas where your Yoshi will be transformed into something like a helicopter or a truck and you have to use the system’s gyroscopic controls to steer him through a course within a certain time limit. It’s a simple idea and it breaks up the pacing of the game a bit. However, just like the giant eggs, these levels are few and far between compared to the standard gameplay and relatively easy to complete.
One of the things that I really love about the game is the patented art style that the series has adopted; this game looks absolutely fantastic with its hand-drawn, crayon styled visuals and pastel colors. It has a very unique look when compared to the usual Mario fare and really stands out. The same can be said for the music; it is very cute and gets stuck in your head easily. You’ll likely be roaming around humming and whistling like the Yoshi’s when you’re not playing the game; I know that I have been.
My two biggest complaints with Yoshi’s New Island is its excessively-simple difficulty and the repetitiveness in the the enemies. In terms of enemies, there are only so many piranha plants and Shy Guys that you can see before you start wishing for something different; instead they litter these worlds. Granted, the game does make efforts to add some challenge for more mature gamers by giving you missions to complete which really amount to collecting a certain amount of flowers, or other various objects in a level. However, those are simply optional and never really made a focus. I get that this game is ultimately designed for a younger crowd, but after seeing the challenges provided recently by games like DKC: Tropical Freeze and even New Super Mario Bros. 2, I was expecting more. Instead I flew through the game, never once finding myself stuck or frustrated at any point in the game.
If you like the series, you will undoubtedly like this new adventure. I just want you to be warned that this is really just more of the same, which can be both good and bad depending on your thoughts on the franchise. Yoshi’s New Island has all the tools that it will need to succeed though, it’s fun, cute, and incredibly charming. The younger gamers in your house will surely eat this one up, as they did in mine, and you might find yourself entertained a bit too. As a long time fan though, I can’t help but wish it didn’t feel like the same game I played 20 years ago on my SNES.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, certified news monkey. I have been blogging on the industry for close to a decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die.
I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new. If you put it in front of me, I will play it... end of story.