junior_ain's Yoshi's New Island (Nintendo 3DS) review

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Nintendo needs to add difficulty setting to their games.

Really, Nintendo should learn a new concept called difficulty setting. I understand they have always had that sweet spot for children, but recently some games just take it way overboard. Yoshi’s New Island is meant for children, the story, the controls, the stages. Anyone who grew with the once continuation of Super Mario World can relate to this, but something that made the original memorable is missing.

I’ve said this for Super Mario Bros. as well, had this some kind of difficulty setting the story would be absolutely forgettable. The stork delivers Baby Mario and Baby Luigi to the wrong place and it rushed to get them to their real new parents. In transit the stork crashes with none other than Kamek. Baby Mario falls down while the stork and Baby Luigi are kidnapped by the baddie.

Baby Mario falls safely in Egg Island, a place that has been facing a few problems lately. First Baby Bowser found the location and decided it would be a perfect place for his vacation. Second, after the arrival of Bowser’s son the island was not the same, and the worst thing is that the Yoshis couldn’t seem to find the hideout of the one responsible for all the bad stuff happening around their home place.

From the moment Baby Mario arrives safe and sound in the middle of a meeting the Yoshis were having probably discussing the problem in hand, he seemed to — as the game itself said — connect in some weird brotherly telepathy with his brother Baby Luigi and know where he is. That’s just great, after all, one hand washes the other, right.

The adventure begins. Not at all different from past games, and that’s perfectly fine, no one cares really. The soundtrack is based in very minimalistic melodies that are taken from the original. The arranges are not bad at all, but the lack of diversity will be a problem throughout. They could also use a few more instruments in the mix as well.

From the graphics, that are beautiful, to the anemic soundtrack, everything screams childish. It certainly won’t grab you by the neck from the very first few moves. It might take half the game until experienced players see real challenge. When it finally comes it does with style. The Special stages are pretty harsh in terms of difficulty. Special mention goes to the fourth world special stage that resembles a certain lava stage with a certain dog from the original. Also, the special stage for the fifth world is complete madness.

Completionists will probably take much more from trying to complete the brief levels trying to grab every single red coin there is or every sun. Some levels are quite tricky to tell the truth. Also, you need to complete with every star meter that works as health bar measuring how much more time Baby Mario will survive in the bubble floating around. This proves more difficult in castles where you need to defeat the bosses taking no damage. That’s not such an insane challenge as it might sound, but at least works well for those frustrated with the game’s simplistic nature.

There’s certainly a wide array of mechanics used throughout the game that might not stick for long but are memorable nonetheless. Poochy the dog appears in only two stages and most people will thank the heavens for that. Circulating-floating arrows are also something that are brought right back from the original. Jump arrows are everywhere. Some riding birds are also abundant, in latter levels you might have to jump them on top of instant-death pits.

The regular watermelon gives Yoshi the ability to shoot seed as projectiles. A ice variant of the watermelon lets Yoshi freeze enemies and destroy-push them to slide over the ice. Those ?-clouds are one of the main features and they exist in two forms. Normal and hidden. Normal clouds are found in basically every level easily, the hidden ones are also large in number but are easily missed by the player if they don’t look well enough or get the cues for where it’s generally hidden.

The eggs are the main source of action and they rock. Throwing eggs is pretty functional. Eat certain enemies and make an egg or get them from egg resuppliers as well. There are three different ways of throwing eggs, each has its own benefits. The first one is called the “patient” style because it’s generally aimed for those still getting to know the basics. When you press the button once it will trigger the target will appear changing angle that goes all the way up (90 degrees) to about 320º (-40 degrees). It doesn’t go all the way down, that’s all you need know.

The thing is, when you’re ready to shoot just press the button again. If you want to make sure you’re aiming at the right place use the stop function, press the ‘Y’ button to stop the trajectory. If that’s good enough, shoot; if not, release the movement all over to try again. When you’re way too skilled to keep waiting those long movements of the target simply change to the hasty style which will be triggered automatically when you press the ‘X’ (in default controller setting) button. The movement is way quicker and when you release it it will shoot instead of having to press it twice. Once to enter shoot-egg mode and one to shoot.

But strangely the best method is neither of those. The best way to shoot eggs utilizes a new DS features. I know that almost sounds completely insane. Nintendo actually made things easier this time instead of creating another useless gimmick that could have been sufficed with a single button pressing. The gyroscope method. Simply enter egg mode and twist the 3DS in certain angles to aim. It might feel awkward at first but it’s amazing how it works well. Once you get used to it it’s hard to go back to any mentioned earlier. When you’re more accustomed to how this works you might start twisting the handheld before the target appears, which is totally awesome when you manage to be even close.

The levels are pretty straight-forward, nothing fancy and there’s quite a lot of them. I was surprised when I found out that there are a staggering number of 54 regular levels. Each world has its own bonus level involving one of Yoshi’s transformations, they serve to earn the player lives so they’re not actual levels. The stages are brief but most are very dense, especially for completionists.

The Yoshi’s transformation is a mechanic that dates back from the first Yoshi’s Island as well. Note that the entirety of the game is fan service, nothing really new is found here, just old ideas that turned out spectacular in the past, refurbished and made neat all over again. Not too problematic to tell the truth.

Back to transformations, sometimes during the game you’ll enter special doors that send yoshi to a special mini-level. You get to be a submarine, a snow-sledge, a hydraulic rock breaker, a helicopter and a balloon — there’s also the star stage which is pretty similar but not quite since you play as Yoshi that tries to keep getting stars maintaining the invincibility. These stages often — not always — use the DS’s gyroscope to move and you must proceed trying to collect the coins or not, until you reach the other and of the stage and continue the main level.

Some mini-stage are required to proceed while others simply offer collectibles like red coins or suns. There’s also another kind of doors that are the locked doors. The player needs to find a key, store it in one of the egg slots and use it when the time comes; sometimes having to backtrack as well.

If you’re looking for new stuff go look somewhere else. This game uses basic principles from the other Yoshi’s Island adventures to create a new game that offers nothing really new in terms of gameplay. Of course it’s a new game with new stages, but the formula is well known. The fact this game is clearly aimed for children is not fairly pleasing as well. Most of what’s said and done is pretty silly, so the actual game is what matters here.

It’s not as fresh and inspired as the original, but fans of Yoshi’s Island will probably have a good time once they get past the obvious problems.

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