Quickie Review: Yoshi’s New Island
While my much beloved SNES was happily aging back in 1995, Nintendo had a few high-profile releases left to fuel the machine’s life support before heading into the N64 era. Chief among them were titles like Super Mario RPG and a sequel to Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island. It departed from its immediate predecessor in several major ways, including an adorable pastel aesthetic that was way ahead of its time and the great, addictive mechanic of eating enemies, crapping eggs, and tossing them around. It was brilliant, as deep (or more) as Super Mario World, and ridiculously challenging at times. It rightfully holds a special place in many older gamer’s pixelated hearts and is a prime contender for an annual replay.
A couple sequels were released that were never able to recreate the magic of Yoshi’s Island, often eschewing the simplicity and tight platforming Island was known for and diluting the gameplay with more babies and unnecessary extra abilities. Unfortunately, Yoshi’s New Island is yet another failed attempt at recapturing the highs of its predecessor. That’s not to say it’s a bad game; I’ve mined plenty of fun from its adorable worlds. It simply doesn’t live up to its predecessor or improve on that title in any meaningful way.
The core mechanic of (painfully) producing and tossing eggs is as fun as ever, and I found myself having a great time carefully aiming my throws for maximum coin grabbing carnage. It’s as simple as finding an enemy, swallowing the poor fool whole, and pushing the egg out of poor Yoshi’s seemingly elastic butt. Seriously, he even squeaks out what sounds way too much like “bum” when a new egg appears. This time around, there are also enormous eggs that can be acquired by swallowing the game’s few gigantic enemies. Much like the mega mushroom introduced in the New Super Mario Bros. series, it serves as a tool for total environment destruction, granting 1-up bonuses based on the amount of objects you annihilate.
It’s pretty entertaining to watch these eggs fly around the levels murdering everything they touch, but it all feels too staged. There aren’t enough opportunities to really run wild with it and experiment with their destruction. Often, there are arrows or other clear signs of where you can toss these giant eggs, giving off an unwelcome feeling of constantly having your hand held. Otherwise, throwing them randomly has no effect, a real missed opportunity for some bonus fun. Bizarre vehicle sections also make a return from Yoshi’s Island, but these are genuinely not fun to play. I don’t know who still thinks that people enjoy tilting their console around to control things, but I hope they get fired soon. Thankfully, these sections are typically short and entirely optional, so they don’t ruin the fun too much.
Another sore point is that, at only 6 worlds, Yoshi’s New Island feels a little too light on content to justify its $45 asking price. There are plenty of well-hidden secrets to uncover and fully completing the levels (collecting all of the coins, flowers, and finishing with 30 stars) is quite difficult, but there is little incentive to do so. The levels are certainly well designed and fun to play through, but they lack the addictive qualities that made previous Yoshi games so replayable. As one final gripe, I must say that the bosses, while occasionally neatly designed, are way too easy to defeat. Nintendo’s typical 3 hits and they’re gone rule really needs to be thrown out in favour of something that encourages more challenge and experimentation.
Not all is bad, however. Visually, Yoshi’s New Island is a striking game that successfully recreates the cute, colorful pastel graphics of that SNES classic. It’s easily one of the cutest games out there, making for a nice change of pace from more serious games. Its egg tossing mechanic is still one of the best gameplay mechanics that Nintendo has in its toolkit, and this game makes great use of it from time to time.
Ultimately, Yoshi’s New Island is fun but completely forgettable. It won’t land on many replay lists, and I suspect most will promptly trade it in when they’ve completed it. The game’s developer, Arzest, are definitely on to something here, but it could have used a couple more worlds and a lot more challenge. Hopefully, should Nintendo choose to revisit Yoshi’s Island again in the future, they treat it a little more seriously. Only pick this one up if you’re a die-hard fan of Yoshi’s Island .