It’s been a while since Yoshi has been the star of a Nintendo game. We rode along with Yoshi back in 1995 in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and then again in 2006 with Yoshi’s Island DS and now he is back in the limelight again. As a big fan of Super Mario World 2, I was really hoping that Yoshi’s New Island would spark the same excitement, with the iconic hand drawn aesthetic, great music, and unique take on a Mario game. Unfortunately, Yoshi’s New Island fell a little short.
The story commences with a stork that has dropped baby Mario and Luigi off at the wrong doorstep. While attempting to correct his mistake and take the babies to their proper home, the stork gets attacked by Koopalings. Baby Mario falls to Egg Island, the home of the Yoshi clan, while the stork and baby Luigi get kidnapped. The Yoshis team up to reunite the brothers so the stork can get them to their loving family.
Like its predecessors, Yoshi’s New Island is a platforming game. Yoshi carries the helpless infant baby Mario on his back as he traverses through six worlds with eight stages in each. There are mini-bosses and large bosses in each world, residing at stage four and eight respectively.
Iconic mechanics like the hover flutter-jump, ground pound and throwing eggs are back, along side some new platfroming mechanics such as using the 3DS gyro to navigate through challenges and new larger eggs that pack more punch.
Once again, your health system revolves around baby Mario. Keep him content and on Yoshi’s back to survive. Get hit by an enemy and baby Mario releases from Yoshi’s hold to float away in a bubble. If you do not catch baby Mario before the timer runs out, Koopalings will take him away and you will loose a life. The countdown will reset to 10 if you manage to catch Mario before the time runs out. The counter can also be maxed out to 30 by collecting stars and going through check points throughout the levels. You can also die instantly by falling down pits, hitting spikes or dropping into fiery lava.
There are new super large enemies that Yoshi can gobble up and hatch into super large eggs. These eggs can be used to break rock barriers or pipes to further your progress through a stage or to collect items. You can also use the large eggs to help you sleep with the fishes and sink down into water levels. Don’t worry about breathing because there is no air counter. I guess Yoshis have gills.
There are also new Yoshi transformations that can be access by going through special black-hole-like doors found in stages. Yoshi can morph into a helicopter, bobsled, jack hammer, mine cart, submarine and hot air balloon depending on the challenge presented. The new-and-improved Yoshi can then be controlled using the gyro in the 3DS by turning the console side to side. You also have either a projectile, jump ability or breaking ability by pressing on any other button on the system.
The multiplayer in Yoshi’s New Island is nothing special. You get access to 6 mini games as you complete worlds in single player mode. The mini games revolve around the platforming mechanics like the ground pound, flutter-jump and egg toss. You can link up with another 3DS to play Eggy Pop, Flutter Finish, Enemy Eat-Off, Ground-Pound Pop, Tulip Toss and Flutter Fortune. The game’s ‘no-player-left-behind’ idea of a combined score instead of a winner lacks the competitive drive that would make me want to play against my friends again.
This is one of the best uses of 3D that I have seen on the system yet. I played most of the game with the 3D setting on max and did not get annoyed when I accidently moved out of viewing range. The painterly aesthetic lends well to the 3D and makes it less jarring than in other games.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island has some of the best video game music and I catch myself humming hooks from the game's music today, almost 20 years after its release. I was hoping that Yoshi’s New Island would grab me the same way, but alas it did not. It sounded a little too computer generated for my liking. I think the Yoshis are singing in the title screen and the ending credits and it is darn painful. They are out of tune and the sound they chose to represent their voices is really hard on the ears.
Yoshi’s New Island is uses a mix of art styles such as oil painting, water colors, crayons and traditional cell shading throughout the game. By using all of these different techniques, the art style seems more scattered and un-unified than in the previous games. They should have just stuck to one art style and ran with it instead of trying to put the whole artist palette in the game.
The game is too darn easy. Mind you I was trying to fly through the game in order to write my review but it only took me about 6 hours to finish the game and I wasn’t avoiding side quests to get items. The bosses are even easier than the stages. Their attack patterns are repetitive and easy to predict. There are some ‘helping items' added to the game that aren’t needed. Die 3 times in a level and you are presented with a set of wings that make it easier to fly through a level. Die with the wings and you are given gold wings that also make you invincible. If Nintendo’s goal is to grab new gamers, then the difficulty level in Yoshi’s New Island is a good way to start. But after playing the challenging Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, this platformer is a breeze.
With all that said, Yoshi’s New Island is a pretty good game, it’s just not great. I feel a little let down that it didn’t quite evolve enough to satisfy my appetite.