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Yoshi's New Island Review

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  • 3DS

Nintendo's struggled to make a memorable Yoshi game since Yoshi's Island, and this new 3DS platformer isn't going to change that.

Nintendo isn't a company that gets truly weird all that often, which is why Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island continues to stand out. It's a psychedelic platformer with a screaming baby used to remind players they're screwing up. It's beautiful, strange, and the company doesn't return to the idea of a Yoshi-focused platformer very often. There's good reason for that, too. Yoshi's Story was an abomination, and does anyone even remember Yoshi's Island DS? For whatever reason, Yoshi's Island was truly a product of its time, and that remains the case with Nintendo's latest effort, Yoshi's New Island on 3DS. It's not a bad game, really, but it's an entirely pedestrian platformer. As a big Yoshi's Island fan, that's a disappointment.

These caves will look familiar to anyone who's played Yoshi's Island before.

As with most Nintendo platformers, the story isn't the focus here. In the Yoshi's Island universe, storks deliver babies to...well, it's not clear. You never see the faces of the island residents, so we're not even sure if they're human. They live in mushroom huts, though. Anyway. The stork is delivering Mario and Luigi, but drops them off at the wrong house. In the rush to find their real home, Baby Bowser sends his minions to intercept the two children. Why? It doesn't matter. Stop overthinking this one. Baby Bowser has taken over the land the yoshi clan call home, and Mario needs to find his brother. The two sides decide to team up.

The basic gameplay remains unchanged in Yoshi's New Island. You control different colored yoshis, though each functions the same. Mario rides on the yoshi's back, and if a yoshi is touched by something nasty, Mario starts flying away in a bubble of his own crying snot. A timer starts to tick down, and if Mario isn't rescued in time, it's game over. You start each level with 10 seconds to grab Mario, and a meter charges back up to 10 again once he's safe. The yoshis are able to stick out their tongues and swallow enemies to produce eggs, which can then be shot to destroy enemies, collect coins, or break open certain objects in the world. Pressing X emits a dotted line that moves up and down, and that line can be paused mid-air with L to ensure precision. The big addition to Yoshi's New Island are giant enemies that can be used to crush specific parts of the world. Yoshi's New Island, sadly, makes sparing use of this new idea.

Each level contains three collectibles, as well: stars, red coins, and flowers. None of these are required to complete any given stage, and are mostly meant to encourage exploration and experimentation with the game's mechanics within each level. Yoshi's New Island does not feature the level-ending minigames of Yoshi's Island, but when players jump through the hoop at the end of each stage, it's possible for the hoop's meter to land on a flower, which garners the player medals. Collecting medals gives the player additional lives, but dying is not really a concern in this game. The collectibles unlock secret stages, a la Yoshi's Island.

The genius of the red coins is that they're often hidden in a plethora of yellow ones.

Several worlds into Yoshi's New Island's six areas, I kept waiting for the game to finally start. There is a challenge arc to modern Nintendo platformers. The first few worlds might not provide much difficulty for a player versed in Nintendo's past, but, eventually, the game will leave newcomers behind, asking them to indulge in the game's handholding item that springs to life after several deaths. This shift does come in Yoshi's New Island, but it doesn't happen until the final world, and it's too little, too late. World six is when the game decides to challenge players to combine well-timed jumps with very specific skill shots in order to advance forward, let alone collect everything that's scattered about. Those last eight stages are fantastic, a window into a game that isn't present anywhere else. For a while, I thought Yoshi's New Island was going to pull the same trick as Super Mario 3D Land, opening up another set of six worlds that put my skills to a true test, but it never happens. The credits roll, and it's all over just as it was beginning.

World six is the only time Yoshi's New Island felt like the classic it takes inspiration from. For the most part, though, Yoshi's New Island plays like a game trying really hard to grab elements from Yoshi's Island without knowing what to do with them. Everything you'd expect from a new Yoshi's Island game is here, including vehicle transformations (now largely handled by tilting the 3DS, which works well enough) and eating watermelon. But the game does so little with every one of these elements that it's strange the game decides to include them at all. It often feels like a forced nod to the foundation driving Yoshi's New Island, not a gameplay addition the designers had lots of ideas for. The moment a new gameplay wrinkle is introduced, it largely disappears. Maybe it comes back later in the game, maybe it doesn't. But the game rarely builds upon what it introduces to players, making these fleeting glances at variety frustrating.

As you make your way through the game, you'll also unlock various cooperative and competitive two-player game modes. These cannot be played online, but can be shared with another 3DS with a single copy of the game. Players compete by fluttering across the sky the longest, popping the most balloons, etc.

Like many 3DS games, it looks better on a real 3DS than it does in blown up screen shots, but it doesn't fix the art.

What the new game does nail is the satisfaction of exploration. Yoshi's Island is an enjoyable platformer when straightforwardly progressing from the beginning to the end, but Yoshi's Island's level design really shined when players took the game's abundance of collectibles not as level padding but as an incentive to make the most of your moveset. Often, the regular path in a Yoshi's New Island stage will grant you most of the game's three collectables...but not all of them. The rest are found in secret paths, some only accessible using the game's tricky double jump, and others only unearthed when you've physically passed over them. Unlike the recent Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, there is no item to make these secrets easier to find. Totally clearing out a stage becomes its own, separate challenge, one gratifying for different reasons. The game doesn't require players to engage with this side of the game, but it really helps you appreciate the thought put into some of the seemingly simplistic levels. There might be more to them.

It would help, of course, if the stages themselves were a little more interesting to look at. If Yoshi's Island is known for anything, it's the trippy aesthetic. To an extent, that's present in Yoshi's New Island, but like the mechanics it drags in and does little with, the look of the game feels half-hearted. At first glance, it certainly looks like Yoshi's Island, but it lacks the sense of inspired style or flair that defined the original. Yoshi's Island, an intentional and directed reaction to the CG approach for Donkey Kong Country, looks like a game drawn by the most skilled child artist in the world--beautiful and messy. Yoshi's New Island is an adult trying to capture the recklessness of his youth. It's a game without a proper identity, past or present. And how the heck do you release a new Yoshi's Island without a "Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy" level in 3D?!

At its core, Yoshi's New Island is not a bad game. This is an acceptable, middle-of-the-road platformer, and one that I had an OK time with. But it's not particularly memorable until it's ready to say goodbye, and you're given a fleeting, tantalizing glimpse into the game that might have been.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
117 Comments
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Posted by jimmyfenix

#TeamJeff

Posted by RE_Player1

Jeff is going to love it.

Posted by Owozifa

Well that kinda sucks.

Posted by famicomplicated

Is it better than Yoshi's Island DS? That game kinda put me off the whole series...

Posted by Morningstar

Awww, Pat's dreams were crushed. How dare you Nintendo!

Edited by blakekhealy

That's too bad, I really wish it was better

Online
Posted by rmanthorp

DAMN.

Moderator
Posted by SeanFoster

I could hear Jeff's maniacal laughter as I read this.

Posted by gerrid

What's this nonsense about Yoshi's Story? I think you misspelled "triumph"

Posted by MrGtD

I won't stand for this smear campaign against Yoshi's Story.

Posted by Sil3n7

You hear that Jeff?

Online
Posted by Owozifa

One thing the review didn't really touch on was are there extra stages like in the original game for collecting 100% in the worlds? Those were the real challenge stages of the game and it seems to weigh heavily on the criticisms in the review as to whether that kind of extra content is there.

Posted by BlazeHedgehog

Maybe don't hire the developers responsible for Pinobee, Blinx the Time Sweeper, and Vampire Rain next time. Artoon/Arzest has done three Yoshi games (Topsy-Turvy, Yoshi's Island DS, and this) and the best any of them have ever been is simply "mediocre".

Like I seriously think Nintendo doesn't actually care one way or the other but these developers probably keep pitching ideas for new Yoshi games so Nintendo's like "Yeah okay whatever."

Edited by GunslingerPanda

"Yoshi's Story is an abomination"? I can stop reading there.

Posted by forteexe21

Only 3/5 stars?! COLLUSION!

Posted by metalliccookies

Was going to pick this up.... but now i think i'll get Dark Souls 2 instead :/

Posted by ProfessorEss

"...pedestrian"

"...acceptable, middle-of-the-road"

It's sad that this is how I generally regard most of Nintendo's first-party software nowadays.

Online
Posted by Demoskinos

Gerstmann is laughing. LAUGHING.

Edited by Hassun

That delightful combination for baby Mario and Yoshi...

Edited by hughesie27

I hope it has a final boss fight similar to that of the original Yoshi's Island. That music really stands out as one of the earliest memories from my childhood!

Posted by bassguy

That is some heinous shit about Yoshi's Story, Patrick.

Posted by PurpleSpandex

In a shocking turn of events a sequel to a bad game is only ok.

Edited by Nightriff

I liked Yoshi's Story PATRICK! Though I played it when I was 10 so that could be the case

Posted by iAmJohn

Disappointed by the score (not that a 3 is bad by any stretch, but Yoshi's Island should be better than merely good), but I'm not surprised. Ever since the first trailer something has always seemed off about this game. I think Patrick nailed it in his description of the graphics - it feels like Nintendo taking what was a product of rebellion and trying to force it into their current business reality where they can't really afford to take chances on their big franchises. I'm sure it's totally competent, but competency is not what I'm looking for here. Maybe when it's $20.

Posted by TheJayOfSpade

"Yoshi's Story was an abomination" Wait what? An "abomination"? That's a lot of hyperbole for a game that way a lot of fun a didn't try to limit itself to the scope of it's predecessor. As for the actual game at hand, I can't say I'm surprised by Yoshi's New Island. In all the trailers it never looked like it was going to be anything other than slightly worse Yoshi's Island.

Edited by Hyuzen

#touchfuzzygetdizzy

Posted by KoolAid

"How the heck do you release a new Yoshi's Island without a "Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy" level in 3D?!"

I would've accepted this line as the entire review. Three stars.

Posted by BasketSnake

Who plays BABY games anyways?

Edited by Homelessbird

Maybe don't hire the developers responsible for Pinobee, Blinx the Time Sweeper, and Vampire Rain next time. Artoon/Arzest has done three Yoshi games (Topsy-Turvy, Yoshi's Island DS, and this) and the best any of them have ever been is simply "mediocre".

Like I seriously think Nintendo doesn't actually care one way or the other but these developers probably keep pitching ideas for new Yoshi games so Nintendo's like "Yeah okay whatever."

Hey. Blinx was not bad at all. Sure, it existed during a glut of platformers, so everyone was already over saturated, but maybe give it another shot? I enjoy it, at least.

I agree with the rest of your assessment, though, and this review certainly doesn't help me in deciding whether to buy it or not... although since so many good games are coming out right now, I guess I can probably wait to play a mediocre one.

Edited by Zeeman155

As a big fan of the original, this didn't surprise me too much from seeing the trailers. Though I am a bit disapointed as this might be the final nail in the coffin for yoshi games... And Yoshi's Story, an abomination? I really liked that game when I was young.

Posted by Dimsey

Man if I can't touch fuzzy and get dizzy, why even bother?

Edited by Kaiserreich

Yoshi's Story was an abomination

Wrong! That game was great when I was 7. Don't ruin it for me.

Posted by Bartz

People hate on Yoshi's Story because it wasn't "Yoshi's Island 2," but if you look back on it, it was actually a very decent game with a great aesthetic and some interesting ideas. It just wasn't what a lot of people wanted or expected so they angrily dismissed it. Personally it's my favorite Yoshi game.

Posted by alwaysbebombing

Awww :(

Posted by TheHBK

Jeff was right. Why do people want to go against his greatness? People who enjoyed Yoshi's Island were too young to know better because think of how old you would be when Super Mario World came out. A 4 year difference. Also, if you were older and knew more about games, you knew the Nintendo 64 was coming and the PS1 and Saturn were out. This game should have no place in history and should be banned from space and time.

Posted by Puaru
Edited by Paindamnation

@patrickklepek Is an incredible reviewer. @jeff You're not the boss! Love Yoshi's New Island!

Posted by Draxyle

I don't think this came as a surprise to anyone, but it's still a shame. The original Yoshi's Island is one of my most favorite Nintendo games.

I think that's been one of Nintendo's underlining problems lately. While they've dragged Mario and Link into hundreds of different games already, they've usually not completely rehashed and copied old game elements wholesale like they've been doing for a lot of their recent titles (sometimes poorly at that). There's nothing interesting or newsworthy about that. A new Yoshi's Island really should be a platform for some crazy experimentation.

Edited by NUCLEAR_CHIRON

Super surprised to hear people actually liked Yoshi's Story. It's arguably the worst game Nintendo has ever made. Sniffing the ground constantly to find buried melons to get the best scores is one of the most tedious things I have ever done in a video game.

Posted by manbot47

but Patrick has a bias against Yoshi's Island. Jeff really should have taken the wheel on this one

Posted by Zamir

Posted by berterbertez
@thehbk said:

Jeff was right. Why do people want to go against his greatness? People who enjoyed Yoshi's Island were too young to know better because think of how old you would be when Super Mario World came out. A 4 year difference. Also, if you were older and knew more about games, you knew the Nintendo 64 was coming and the PS1 and Saturn were out. This game should have no place in history and should be banned from space and time.

I was born after the SNES and still enjoyed Yoshi's Island when I played it a couple of years ago. Cool mechanics, awesome level variety and I like the kid's drawing art style. Also, I love Jeff, but blindly agreeing with one guys opinions isn't a good way to go about things.

Posted by ShaggE

"And how the heck do you release a new Yoshi's Island without a "Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy" level in 3D?!"

Welp. They blew it. If I can't touch fuzzy and get dizzy, I want no part of this. Harumph!

Posted by HammondofTexas

Posted by Kersplackle

Shit series gets another shit game, who would have guessed? #JeffWasAlwaysRight

Edited by civid

There's good reason for that, too. Yoshi's Story was an abomination

I could not disagree more. I know this is a common opinion to hold, but praising the sun for Yoshis Island because it is 'unique', then slamming Yoshis Story seems completely backwards to me, when Story is a FAR more interesting game than Yoshis Island, if a bit flawed.

Sure Island has some fun leveldesign, a cool artstyle and some great gameplay gimmicks. But Story has an amazing structure to it's level progression never seen before or after in a game, which insentivised the player to keep coming back to old levels to get a better score and thereby get acces to new and harder levels. And not by hiding levels behind collectibles which is a real shitty way to make your game artificially harder, but by requiring the player to collect certain types of fruit to get a higher score and avoid other types of fruit. The score system is integrated directly into the core gameplay structure instead of feeling like an afterthought. The bossdesign is absolutely amazing and the leveldesign is fresh and varied the whole way through, from some geniounly great waterlevels, to sprawling castles. The controls is a bit messy, but the platforming is never hard enough to require pin-point accuracy, so that argument always felt a bit mute to me. And the art design is fucking brilliant. Talk about psychedelic platformer, most of the levels in the game are made out of scraps of paper and stitched together and the music is fucked up in all the rigth ways. It is one of my favorite games from my youth and it's a bit of a shame it has gotten such a bad reputation for no apparent reason when it's one of the more interesting, most overlooked games from the N64 catalouge, together with Jet Force Gemini and Donkey Kong 64.

I'll agree with you on Island DS though, that game was just flat and uninteresting, although the whole '"Wario, Peach and DK as babies" gimmick was kinda cool.

Posted by Deathpooky

Blergh, that's sad. Loved the original as well and had a great, challenging time 100%-ing each level and world. Really wish they could have nailed this one like they did the return to SNES Zelda.

Edited by deerokus

NSMB2 had the same issue. Boring and charmless, suddenly got really good for the last four or so levels.

Arzest who developed this are reconstituted Artoon, right? Their specialty was/is extremely average games.

Online
Edited by Phatmac

JEFF WAS RIGHT! YOSHI GAME SUCK!

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