GAME NAME: Yoshi’s New Island
RELEASE DATE(S): March 14th, 2014
Yo-Yo-Yoshi! everyone’s favourite green dinosaur is back in the third installment of the Yoshi’s Island series. In the previous two titles, Yoshi’s Island (SNES) and Yoshi’s Island DS (DS), our imagination was captured by the playful visuals and unique platforming. Has this franchise still got something to offer or has Yoshi’s secondary role over the years become more evident than ever?
The story of Yoshi’s New Island remains very similar to the original. A stork is off to deliver Baby Mario and Baby Luigi but shows up at the incorrect address. On the stork’s way back, the duo are lost on Egg Island. One of Bowser’s henchmen, Kamek, has predictably kidnapped Baby Luigi. At the same time, Baby Mario is discovered by a group of Yoshis, and like in previous titles hitches a ride with the various coloured dinosaurs in order to save his brother from Kamek.
Throughout the game, you are exposed to Kamek’s typical banter and can only progress by beating both him and the other bosses he’s created throughout various regions of the island, using the general ‘egg throwing’ mechanic. This remains a tried and tested formula throughout the series, and what’s more is that the various control options now available to you work better than ever. Yoshi’s movements are far from traditional and makes for a welcome break from the usual platformer, making it all worth the while.
Each level requires you to collect 30 stars that deplete the moment Baby Mario is knocked from your back by an enemy. In order to 100% any given stage, 20 red coins camouflaged to look like regular coins as well as five flowers need to be collected, in addition to the 30 stars. These tasks within the level add a lot to the replay value as you’ll find that the levels as a whole can be quite simplistic. There are areas in the levels where Yoshi will walk through a door and transform into oddly shaped ‘Yoshi Vehicle’ including a helicopter, hot-air balloon, submarine and a jackhammer. When in these forms, you guide the mutated Yoshi through a maze-like level in a given time using the gyro controls of the 3DS. These sections are generally fun and provide a good challenge, provided you are looking for a hidden red coin or flower in order to fully complete the level. Super Yoshi is another, rather interesting new addition to the series. Once a star has been collected, Yoshi gains the ability to fly through the sky, run along walls and rooftops. When these stars occur, it is generally to progress to a section of the level that would otherwise be unreachable. As found in other recent Nintendo titles, Flutter Wings make an appearance. Flutter Wings are the equivalent of the white tanooki suit found in Mario titles and appear when the player is having difficulty with completing a level.
The worlds in the Yoshi’s Island series have always stood out for their originality, both aesthetically and by sheer design. At first glance, the environments might look like a child’s art project but there is a lot more than meets the eye. The pastaly, watercoloury, chalkboardy (Yes these are all made up words) textures are rich and capture Egg Island flawlessly. The soundtrack is very simplistic and, at times, you’ll think that an audio file from a crèche’s lullaby, nap-time session was used. This doesn’t help Nintendo’s ‘kiddie image’, however, it does undoubtedly compliment the artwork as well as the colourful characters.
Yoshi’s New Island sticks to the franchise’s roots and feels a lot like the original with a new coat of paint. The addition of Mega Eggdozers and Shy Guys that turn into mirrored versions of Yoshi are inventive and much needed additions to make the game not feel stale. As much as the game remains true to its past, it is also open to new ideas capturing the imagination of all of those new to the series. For those wanting to fly through the game and not return to levels for that 100% completion, Yoshi’s New Island might be a bit of a bore. But if you’re willing to return to already played levels, there is no doubt that you’ll be engulfed in the game’s beautifully constructed worlds and engaging charm.