If you’re old enough to remember the Super Nintendo, then you might have heard of or played a game called Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. In it, players took control of the popular titular dinosaur Yoshi as he helped carry a baby Mario while fighting off the forces of baby Bowser in a colorful, crayon-inspired world. Despite the core gameplay being relatively different from what we’ve previously seen in the standard Mario games, it was a huge hit with gamers and critics alike. But that was a long time ago.
Yoshi’s New Island
Developed by Arzest / Published by Nintendo
Available on the Nintendo 3DS.
* Review copy provided by Nintendo
Now, Yoshi’s back as the main character in Yoshi’s New Island, the newest sequel to the original two games. Mario and Luigi’s stork delivery is once again interrupted by the nefarious Magikoopa Kamek, and now the Yoshi clan and Baby Mario must venture through a new island in order to get him back and deliver the two iconic characters safe and sound.
If you’ve ever played any Yoshi’s Island game before then you’ll be in familiar territory, but it’s perhaps one that’s too familiar for its own good. In Yoshi’s New Island, players take control of members of the Yoshi family as they once again carry Baby Mario and attempt to reunite him with his brother Luigi.
The game is a 2D platformer (with 3D models) that has players navigating the screen from left to right, aiming to reach each stage’s end goal. Things aren’t as simple as they appear, however, as enemies litter the stages and deadly jumps must be cleared if players want to reach the end. Thankfully however, Yoshi and his kin are armed with their signature tools of the trade: a sticky tongue, eggs, and a floating jump.
The mechanics work exactly as you remember them if you’ve played the previous entries. Yoshi starts off each stage without any way of defending Mario and himself, save for jumping on the enemy’s head. But by using his classic tongue, he can grab on to a foe and swallow it, creating an egg that can be used as a projectile. Flinging it where you want is harder than it should be however, since it relies on the first two games’ shooting mechanic, which is a dotted line that swings left and right continuously and can be paused with the press of a button. Don’t get me wrong, this way of shooting eggs at enemies works well with the game’s responsive controls, but it’s an antiquated mechanic since the 3DS has an analog pad that could have made aiming easier, and free aiming has been in games for a long time now. This way of shooting can also be problematic when you have stuff coming straight at you or right on you as well, as the dotted line can move slowly and not reach your target in time. It’s great for hitting static objects, but it can be troublesome when hitting stuff that’s moving. Thankfully, not everything moves about in this game, and with the eggs Yoshi will also be activating switches to open paths, striking clouds that provide keys and collectables, collect out-of-reach coins, and more.
The shooting mechanics also make the game’s boss battles much more challenging. These encounters feature larger foes that can take much more damage than usual, and are pattern-based, meaning that they need to be hit a certain moments. While most of these battles are pretty easy to manage and quite enjoyable, it occasionally get frustrating thanks to having to wait for the dotted line to aim towards the enemy, only to lose that brief window of opportunity if the boss goes back on the defensive, or moves away from the line of fire. You learn to work with it though.
Yoshi also transforms into different forms from time to time, just like previous entries. In certain parts of the game, Yoshi will transform into a vehicle – like a helicopter, submarine, or a minecart – and is controlled with the 3DS’ internal gyroscope. His transformation time is limited though, so players must collect clocks in order to extend the duration of the transformation and have enough time to reach the end of the segment. While they are fun scenarios, I would have preferred to use the 3DS’ analog pad or directional pad instead of the gyroscope function, because it feels kind of forced.
Despite being very similar to its predecessors, Yoshi’s New Island does bring a couple of new features to the table. In addition to some of the newer transformations that Yoshi goes through for the special sections mentioned previously, Yoshi also occasionally gets access to a new, giant egg called Mega Eggdozers by swallowing large Shy Guys that can bust through rock when thrown, dispatch giant enemies, and can help Yoshi sink in water to navigate underwater passages. While not exactly game-changing, it’s a nice touch, though very underused in my opinion as it rarely appears in stages.
While Yoshi’s New Island is more of the same and doesn’t really innovate in any way, it’s still a solid game nonetheless. Running through stages with Mario in tow and defeating enemies is still fun, and searching every nook and cranny for collectables in order to ace stages is great. Just don’t expect anything new or exciting, since this is very much the same game you’ve played before.
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