Is That A Dinosaur In Your Pocket?
Bright, colorful, great fun
I'll get back to you
The Bottom Line:
One of the last decades greatest platformers on the GBA. How could you go wrong?
If there is one game on the GBA that feels like it belongs, this is it. Yoshi's Island fits the handheld perfectly, the controls are intuitive, even for big hands and the game is bright enough that it works wonderfully on the dark screen. The bonus for all of this is that Yoshi's Island is easily one of the greatest games of 2D gaming, expanding the genius already created with Super Mario World on the SNES. To this end, it's fitting that the evolution of Super Mario on GBA makes its way here, arguably the best game in the Super Mario series. Where Nintendo goes from here though is anyone's guess (all new Mario, all new Mario).
For the uninitiated (haven't started a review like that before), Yoshi's Island was the 'sequel' to Super Mario World on the SNES, however, the game itself, in the Mushroom Kingdom timeline of things, is a prequel detailing how Mario and Luigi became associated with the various members of that strange land. And more specifically, the Yoshies.
One day a stork is carrying Mario and Luigi to an unknown destination when for at no reason at all a weird creature barges into the stork taking one baby and knocking the other from the storks beak. The creature disappears and the baby plummets to the ground leaving a dazed and confused stork to figure out what's happened with his pay load.
The falling baby happens to fall on the sturdy back of a little dinosaur called a Yoshi. Yoshi takes the baby - it's Mario by the way – to the other Yoshi's on his island to try and figure out what to do. They find a map with the baby Mario and realize that the stork must have been using it to take Mario somewhere. They can't read it, but Mario seems attuned to where he needs to be, so the Yoshies decide to carry the baby to his destination. Thus the first Yoshi sets out with Mario on his back and your adventure on Yoshi's Island Begins.
While the story isn't epic by any means, Nintendo's philosophy of gameplay before story shines through with this game. It's true that the story merely serves as a case of convenience for the unique gameplay system Nintendo created for this game. The idea is simple, carry a baby on your back and try not to get hit, getting hit will result in the baby coming off of the safety of your back and floating away in a bubble (f**k knows where the bubble comes from), he'll also scream like a crazy Gibbon giving birth to a rhinoceros which alerts the minions of the evil koopa that stole his brother, which means getting him on your back is limited to only a few seconds. This opens the door for a wonderful relationship between the Yoshi and baby on screen and works brilliantly as a gameplay idea.
Everything about this game is very bright and colorful, the graphics are very clear and sharp and the sound is very impressive. I don't see any downfalls to this game apart from the fact that it is a 10+ year old game. But the package has been spruced up a lot so it is great fun to play.
While the game is very much a Nintendo title, there are a number of things that separate it from the usual Mario formula. Firstly, Mario. As you're carrying an undeveloped hero on your back, Mario is limited to the moments in the game designed specifically for him to participate, for 98% percent of the time, you're in control of a Yoshi. Yoshi's have a number of differences over Mario, for one they have only one speed of movement as opposed to Mario's two, Yoshies also have a variation on the platform-esque 'double jump' in that they can jump and then strain to go even higher by pumping their little legs, it's so cute
ahem. Yoshi's can also eat enemies and use them as projectiles and within this game, a trail of eggs for Yoshi can be acquired and used as aiming weapons. With these tools the game is set up in such a way that you can approach many obstacles and enemies with your wits and know how about you.
Yoshies will also be able to undergo a number of transformations at specific points in the game like turning into a helicopter to collect as many coins as possible or a mole to dig your way through various environments. He'll also be able to transform into a submarine, a car and a train later on in the game. These ideas break up the gameplay nicely, which never becomes boring or tedius anyway, but it is nice to know that Nintendo knows how to mix a gameplay cocktail of tasty proportions. Um
There's many hours of fun to be had with this game, even with seasoned gamers, and like I said before, everything about Yoshi's Island on GBA feels right. If you've never played it before pick it up straight away and even if you have played it before have another go, it's that good. If you're an old school gamer, this title should bring back a whole bunch of memories. A must own.