Developed and published by Nintendo, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island represents a departure in the standard platforming formula that Super Mario had become known for. In this prequel to the other Mario titles, players no longer control Mario; instead, they control Mario's green side-kick, Yoshi. Mario himself is in the game and always with Yoshi, but it's not the plumber that players had grown used to; instead Mario returns as a baby, riding on Yoshi's back as Yoshi journeys through various levels on his way to Baby Bowser's castle to save Mario's brother Luigi. Not only did this represent a major shift for the Super Mario series, it also marked a shift in visual design as well. Yoshi's Island used much more colorful palettes than other titles and appears much more stylized. Most objects and environments have much bolder lines and larger contrasts in colors, which gives itself a much more artistic, childish, and hand-drawn feel. Yoshi's Island was originally released on the Super Nintendo.
In 2002, Yoshi's Island was re-released on the Game Boy Advance under the name Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3. Yoshi's Island received its first sequel in 2006 on the Nintendo DS, titled Yoshi's Island DS. The story was a follow up to Yoshi's Island, though not a direct sequel, and not nearly as well received.
There are 6 different worlds in Yoshi's Island, each one with a different theme. World 1 is a field theme, World 2 has a forest theme, World 3 is a jungle, World 4 contains a variety of themes, World 5 has a snowy theme, and World 6 has a dystopic theme. World 6 is the final area of the game, where Yoshi faces off against Kamek and young Bowser.
Yoshi's Island was the first major Mario title that did not contain any form of a warp zone, allowing players to transport themselves further into the game. To complete Yoshi's Island, players were required to complete all of the game's 48 regular stages, though getting 100% completion was a much more daunting task with the many bonus levels featured in the title.
Our tale begins as a stork carries two peaceful young children over the tranquil ocean. All seems well, however, danger rears its ugly head as the evil magikoopa Kamek arrives, swiping Baby Luigi. He attempts to kidnap both infants, but fails, leaving baby Mario to plummet down into the ocean. Mario falls towards a small island in the great expanse of water, home of the Yoshis, an island called Yoshi's Island. Luckily for our young friend, he lands safely on the back of a bright green yoshi. Mario somehow makes Yoshi and his multi-colored friends aware of the catastrophe, and the entire tribe of dinosaurs enlists in the fight. Together, these yoshis will in turn carry Mario through dangerous terrain and, against all odds, rescue Baby Luigi and defeat Kamek. This is exactly what happens, as well. After a long, perilous journey across Yoshi's island's most threatening terrain whilst being pursued by Baby Bowser's minions, the Yoshi's arrive at Baby Bowser's castle. They fight with great strenght against both Bowser and Kamek, and come out the victors. Baby Mario and Luigi are both safe, and all is well in the world.
Yoshi's Island introduces a plethora of new moves for Yoshi now that he has become the main character. Many of the moves that he has since become known for were first developed in this title, including his ability to hover by kicking his feet furiously for a few seconds. Yoshi's ability to create eggs from enemies and then use them as weapons was also introduced in this title. Throughout his adventures, Yoshi can accumulate up to six eggs that can be used to reach far off switches and collectibles or to simply eliminate enemies. Occasionally, players will have to get keys or other objects that will replace an egg in the line up following Yoshi
to unlock or advance in a level. Unlike other Mario titles, Yoshi does not have a finite amount of health (he can be killed instantly by pits, lava, spikes and other such hazards though). Instead, players will have to rescue Baby Mario within a certain time-limit whenever Yoshi is hit. Throughout a level, the timer will refill back to the default 10 seconds, but a player can collect objects, such as bouncing starmen (not to be confused with ones from other Super Mario titles that provide invulnerability), that will increase the limit up to 30 seconds.
Hidden throughout each level are a number of extras which players can collect. Part of the challenge of each level includes collecting these items, which are red coins and flowers. Each level has 20 red coins and 5 flowers. Tthe red coins simply serve as a collectible, but the flowers give the player an increased chance of playing a mini-game once they complete the level. If a player collects all of the items in a level and finishes with 30 seconds on their timer, they receive a perfect score of 100 for that level.
Some levels require Yoshi to collect a transformation power-up that transforms Yoshi into a vehicle for a limited amount of time. Yoshi can become a helicopter, letting him fly; a car, which increases his speed, but he must avoid enemies; a submarine, which lets him shoot torpedoes that home onto enemies; a train, which rides on rails, but must avoid other enemies also on the tracks; and a mole vehicle that can dig through certain obstacles. During any vehicle segment, players don't have to worry about losing Baby Mario, but still must complete the segment before the transformation wears off. When a player successfully reaches the end of the segment, Yoshi and Baby Mario are reunited and the level continues.
On a few rare occasions, Yoshi has a chance to nab a "super star," altering Baby Mario into the 'Super Baby Mario' form, also causing Mario to don a cape. This marks a turn of events for the game where the player controls Baby Mario rather then his scaly chauffer. Baby Mario can run at the speed of light up walls and across ceilings and has an improved ability to jump and glide. Many times, Mario can nab hard-to-reach items and plenty of coins. This power up is seldom seen, and only lasts for a very short period of time, so make good use of it.
At the end of each level, players jump through a goal hoop that will randomly reward the player with a mini-game. After that, players are scored out of 100 points depending on how many red coins they collected, how many of the five hidden flowers they found throughout the stage (which will also improve the chance of entering a mini-game) and how much time is left on the countdown timer. After the player receives their score, the Yoshi carrying Baby Mario hands him off to the next Yoshi that will carry Baby Mario through the next level. There six worlds altogether, each of which consists of eight levels that players must clear in order. Players can also unlock hidden bonus stages that add an extra challenge. Players can pick any stage they've previously beaten, in an attempt to get a better score or find any other hidden secrets. Each world has two castle areas where players have to face off against a boss which all have different weaknesses players must discover and are not necessarily as "generic" as the bosses seen in other Mario titles that all have similar weaknesses.
The extra stages are a series of optional stages that can be accessed if the player reaches a standard of points in specific worlds. Perfect scores are not required, however, the standards are not easy, and so a high score is required for most levels in a world. The extra stages prove to be much more challenging then the main stages throughout the game, only the elite could conquer a few of these stages.
These stages are:
- Extra 1: Poochy aint Stupid
- Extra 2: Hit that switch!!
- Extra 3: More Monkey Madness
- Extra 4: The Impossible? Maze
- Extra 5: Kamek's Revenge
- Extra 6: Castles - Masterpiece set
On every level, the player has a chance to play one of many mini-games. Some stages only allow access to mini-games through the end of stage roulette, however, there are special doors on some levels that give access
to games. Certain levels will have small hut like buildings with locked doors. If the player can locate the key to the door, they can go inside and participate in a mini-game. These mini-games can provide the player with bonuses if they are successful.
Throwing Balloons: In this mini-game, Yoshi and the bandit will toss a balloon to each other across the screen. As they toss the balloon, it will continue to grow larger and larger. Once it gets so big that it pops, the character holding it loses.
Popping Balloons: popping balloons has Yoshi competing against the bandit to see who can pop the right balloon. The characters run across the small level, ground-pounding all of the balloons. Whoever pops the correct balloon is the winner.
Gather Coins: Once again, Yosih is pitted against the bandit. This game has a cannon which moves across the screen, and shooting out coins into the air as it moves. The player must try and collect as many coins as possible. Once the game is over, the character with the most coins wins.
Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest: This game puts Yoshi in combat against the bandit, both wielding watermelon seeds. Pots are scattered across the screen, each one with a watermelon in it. The characters collect the watermelons and eat them, then, as if they were a machine gun, spit out the seeds at eachother. Both characters have life, and whoever loses all of their life first is the loser.
Game Boy Advance version
On September 22, 2002, Nintendo released the GBA port of Yoshi's island, titled Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island. Essentially, the games were identical aside from the obvious change in resolution. Nintendo added voice samples from the Nintendo 64 game Yoshi's Story, and changed the music in the GBA version of the game.
One major change to the game was the addition of six new "secret levels" that a player could unlock once they had completed the game. These secret levels are completely seperate from the extra levels found in the SNES version, though those levels are also present in the port. In order to get these levels, players were required to obtain a score of 100 on all of the games 60 levels by collecting all that can be found on each level. Once they have these scores and have defeated bowser, a yellow box will appear on the level select menu with the word "secret" in it.
The secret levels are as follows:
- Secret Level 1: Exercise in the Skies
- Secret Level 2: Mystery of the Castle?
- Secret Level 3: Go! Go! Morphing
- Secret Level 4: Fight Toadies with Toadies
- Secret Level 5: Items are fun!
- Secret Level 6: Endless world of Yoshis
There were also a few changes to the GBA version. In Extra level 3, 'More Monkey Madness,' a single red coin was removed taking the total on the level from 21 to 20.
The GBA version of Yoshi's Island also featured a remake of the classic arcade game Mario Bros., as did other game boy advance Mario ports. Yoshi's Island was the first of the Mario advance series to allow players to put the game boy into a 'sleep' mode, which allowed them to put the game boy into powersave at any time without losing progress.