I pretty much forgot what it was like to play the original Yoshi’s Island. I mean, I remember the basics of gameplay, its visual style, and the basic feel of controlling Yoshi which remains virtually unchanged after all these years. Aside from that however, I wouldn’t be able to recall any specific moments about the original game. It’s just been too long.
So when Nintendo announced Yoshi’s New Island at E3, how can people who loved the original game not anticipate the sequel for Nintendo’s amazing 3DS handheld? I have to say though, 15 years is a long time and what was once so familiar feels strangely new. How does Yoshi’s New Island compare to my vague and hazy memories?
It’s been forever since I last played the original Yoshi’s Island. Still, I can’t forget the basic premise. Yoshi’s Island has you in control of a variety of Yoshis as they carry on their backs baby Mario, who is searching for his kidnapped brother. If you were unfortunate enough to lose baby Mario at any point during the game, the screams that followed surely would have haunted you for life. Yoshi’s Island…was a stressful game.
And surprisingly, the sequel leaves the premise unchanged. The brothers are babies again, on their way to be delivered to their parents via storks when Bowser’s evil minions attempt and fail to kidnap Mario. Luigi, however, was less lucky. Falling to Yoshi’s Island, the various colored dinos make it their mission to get Mario to his brother.
The Yoshis control as they’ve always controlled. They can jump, then hover for a short time desperately before falling prey to gravity again. They can use their tongue to grab enemies and swallow them, turning them into eggs, and they can use said eggs as projectiles to hit faraway targets. It’s the same Yoshis you’ve known and loved, and the controls remain largely unchanged. In fact, a lot of the game, story included, remains largely unchanged, only it’s all just “better.”
While the game still largely plays the same, small additions such as extra large special eggs, make interesting albeit limited additions. Segments which involve swallowing gigantic enemies and laying special, and equally gigantic, eggs act more as one-off puzzles than constant gameplay mechanics. For instance, using a large, boulder-like egg to clear your path, or a large pinball egg to geometrically throw and collect unreachable coins, are largely puzzle elements. Also, the creative transformations Yoshi can undertake make for entertaining distractions. Turning a Yoshi into a car or a drill, which you then drive around using the 3DS’ motion controls are fun elements but distractions nonetheless. The bread and butter of the game, the platforming and egg throwing, are still the same as ever however and like all of Nintendo’s recent platformers; grasping them is simple, but mastery is difficult.
The game’s distinct art style, a mixture of paint and crayon, looks astoundingly gorgeous on the handheld. Words are incapable of describing just how beautiful the game is in person. The way the background sways and the colors come to life (literally) on screen is just so. damn. pretty.
Additionally the best thing to happen to 3D in video games is when developers realized that rather than using it for any gameplay additions, 3D is used best when enhancing the visual qualities of a game. Also, Nintendo shows that nobody understands Nintendo technology better than themselves. The 3D in Yoshi’s New Island actively makes the game prettier (if that was possible). There are visual flourishes only experienced in 3D and if it wasn’t for the fact that I literally lost functions of my eyes after an hour of play with 3D on, I would play the whole game like that. Sadly, the 3D was really powerful this time around and while the pros and cons of having it on were mostly tied, my selfish desire to protect my eyes won out in the end. Still, for short bursts and certain segments, I definitely recommend experiencing the 3D effects yourself.
I want to take a chance to talk about the music for a second though. I was playing with headphones on finding myself enjoying the jazzy soundtrack, but I couldn’t help wonder why I loved it so much. I realized that the soundtrack reminded me of the Katamari Damacy soundtrack. I’m definitely not saying they’re identical, but the light jazz influence of Katamari seems to have been the primary influence for Yoshi’s New Island as well and the it just makes your heart flutter with joy.
I am angry by how good this game just makes me feel. It’s just a joy to play through and I can’t say I have anything bad to say about it, only because it feels largely unchanged from the original. Aside from graphical and technological improvements, this is still Yoshi’s Island that people loved the first time around (and second time on the Gameboy Advance — and third time on the eShop if you were an early adopter I guess). How does that saying go? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Well you can still make it prettier, and at the end of the day, that alone is just icing on the already enjoyable cake.
[+Same Yoshi you know and love] [+Gorgeous visuals] [+Amazing music] [+Controls relatively the same as original game] [+Visually stunning 3D] [+Seriously, one of the prettiest games on the 3DS] [-Don’t leave the 3D on too long] [-New features don’t make significant changes to the game]