Yoshi's Story (known in Japan as Yoshi Story) is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer developed by Nintendo EAD and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 on December 21, 1997 (in Japan), on March 10, 1998 (in North America), and on May 10, 1998 (in Europe).
A follow-up to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Yoshi Story retains most of the previous game's platforming (without the "Baby Mario" mechanic, replacing it with a health system similar to Super Mario 64) while adding a new pre-rendered 3D art style (giving it a more distinct "pop-up storybook" aesthetic). It is the first game to give Yoshi his traditional voice samples (which would be recycled throughout his various Nintendo game appearances) and is known for its dynamic music (which changes in pitch, tempo, and instrument depending on the player's status) with multiple musical motifs.
The game's story takes place in Yoshi's Island, which was magically transformed into a pop-up storybook by the infant Bowser after he stole the Super Happy Tree (a magical tree that grows every type of fruit on the island and the source of the Yoshis' happiness). Players control six Yoshis of different colors as they venture through the six "pages" of the island to grow "Super Happy", find the Tree, and restore the island back to normal.
Unlike Yoshi's Island, where the goal of each level is to find the actual goalpost at the end, Yoshi's Story changes the end-level goal so that their current Yoshi must eat 30 pieces of fruit scattered throughout the non-linear level. In addition, the game features a unique lives system where each of the six Yoshis are "lives" and are captured when their health is lost (although they can be rescued by befriending special Shy Guys).
The game's standard Story Mode is unique as while the game has 24 stages total, only six are played during a single playthrough (requiring multiple playthroughs to complete all stages). Stages completed throughout all playthroughs are playable in the game's Trials Mode, in which players aim to get a high score in each stage.
The game was later digitally re-released as a Virtual Console title for the Wii (in 2007) and the Wii U (in 2016). It was also one of 14 games released with the 2003 iQue Player in China. The game's hand-crafted storybook nature would later be used in two spiritual successors: the 2015 Yoshi's Woolly World and the 2019 Yoshi's Crafted World.
From the start, players have access to six Yoshis, each with their own color, favorite fruit (which, when eaten by them, give additional points and restored health), and favorite color of Shy Guy (which give additional points when defeated):
- Green Yoshi (watermelons, green Shy Guys)
- Yellow Yoshi (bananas, yellow Shy Guys)
- Red Yoshi (apples, red Shy Guys)
- Pink Yoshi (apples, red Shy Guys)
- Blue Yoshi (grapes, blue Shy Guys)
- Cyan Yoshi (grapes, blue Shy Guys)
This serves as the game's lives system, as the player's chosen Yoshi is captured by Bowser's forces once they lose all their health and can no longer be used. However, befriending a White Shy Guy hidden in each level and completing the level with them allows them to act as an "extra life", as choosing them causes them to infiltrate Bowser's Castle and rescue a captured Yoshi.
Hidden throughout the game are two special Yoshis: Black Yoshi and White Yoshi. Both of them are unique as all fruits, as well as all four colors of Shy Guys, are treated as the "favorite". However, they cannot be rescued by White Shy Guys.
The game uses a per-stage scoring system, which is scored at the end of the stage by six criteria:
- Fruit - Determined by the type of fruit eaten. Normally, each fruit is 1 point. However, Melons and the Yoshi's favorite fruit counts as 3 points while the chosen Lucky Fruit counts as 8 points. In addition, the game uses a multiplier for eating the same type of fruit consecutively.
- Enemies - Determined by how many enemies are eaten or defeated. Normally, 1 point is given for eating an enemy. However, Shy Guys with the current Yoshi's color counts as 3 points. In addition, the game uses a multiplier for defeating multiple enemies at a short time, with a x2 multiplier for one enemy, x4 multiplier for two, x8 multiplier for three, and x16 for four or more.
- Coins - Determined by how many coins are picked up. 1 point per coin.
- Hearts - Determined by how many Special Hearts are picked up. 100 points per Heart.
- Melons - Determined by how many Melons are eaten. 100 points per Melon. This is scored in addition to the Melons counted in the Fruit section.
- Yoshis - Determined by how many of the six Yoshis are not captured. 100 points per Yoshi.
In Story Mode, players are ranked based on all six chosen stages and slightly changes the ending based on multiple score thresholds. In Trials Mode, players are ranked on each unlocked stage.
Besides the standard retail versions of Yoshi's Story released across the different territories, an additional one was produced by Nintendo dubbed the "International Version." In collector circles, the International Version of Yoshi's Story is significant because it is among the rarest cartridges produced for the Nintendo 64, especially since its existence wasn't confirmed until well over a decade after the original game's release. The game itself is largely the same, although it contains the markings of a Nintendo 64 kiosk demo and also has the odd quirk of having its text in Japanese, despite having an ESRB rating.
Game Boy Advance Tech Demo
When Nintendo originally announced the development of the Game Boy Advance in 2000, one of the available tech demos at the time was a scaled down, yet playable version of Yoshi's Story. The tech demo itself was not a port, as it only consisted of one level that repeated itself infinitely; once Yoshi traversed far enough, he automatically ended up at the beginning of the level again. Nonetheless, some basic gameplay features were retained in the GBA rendition, such as the ground pound and flower-shaped health meter. Nothing else directly related to Yoshi's Story was realized on the GBA other than the tech demo itself.
The game also has a soundtrack in 3 versions. The American soundtrack's name is Music to Pound the Ground To Yoshi's Story Game Soundtrack while the European version's name is Love, Peace and Happiness. The soundtrack is composed by Kazumi Totaka, who also voices the title character of the game.