While developing ‘Neon the Ninja’ I’ve been playing a whole slew of NES, SNES and Sega Genesis games. recently I just finished a full play-through of Yoshi’s Island and realized I should be doing formal write ups on these games since I’m already putting the time in.
‘Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island‘ is a game I had played a little bit of as a kid (through ancient establishments like Blockbuster) but never owned. It’s a very unique and highly regarded platformer so I was excited to purchase it for my collection and experience it again. These are my findings.
At first the controls were very off-putting to me. I’m very familiar with the way Mario dashes and jumps but Yoshi has a very different feel to him. He’s very floaty and seems less precise but after a few levels things started ‘clicking for me’. I finally got the feel of his ‘flutter’ ability (which is crucial to progressing through the game) and tossing eggs became much more enjoyable when I started hitting my targets. Once you get over the initial learning curve this is a very refined experience unlike any other game I’ve played.
The game evokes the feeling of visiting a child’s hand-drawn world. This very bold choice could have come off amateurish if it had not been done correctly but they pull it off with flying colors. These images I’ve posted barely do the game justice as the visuals create a very charming world full of interesting characters (even more impressive when you see the animations in motion). I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this game has a timeless look to it. In an alternate reality where Nintendo is a scrappy small game company in 2016 this game could have easily been the next indie darling on current consoles.
These levels are much longer on average than previous Mario titles. While there are some long and difficult stretches in the game they don’t feel unbeatable due to having a more forgiving checkpoint system. The map is extremely linear when compared to ‘Super Mario 3‘ or ‘Super Mario World‘ and I do think it’s a step backwards. While I can see that it fits the narrative for the Yoshi’s to systematically search the island for baby Luigi I did miss choosing between two or three forked paths on the map, or stumbling upon a shortcut as you do in previous games.
Each boss in the game is a MEGA-POWERED-UP version of a regular enemy that you’ve already encountered in the previous level. This decision leads to some of the greatest battles in the entire series. There’s no repetitive “dodge attack + jump on their head = victory” formula here. You have to figure out each boss’ weaknesses and how to exploit them (granted most are susceptible to eggs being thrown at them but even so these fights still feel very fresh). Uncomplicated but unique; I like this approach so much I’m trying to implement it for Neon. Enough said.
Longer play sessions are rewarded with many opportunities to get extra lives through collecting items, skill based challenges and mini games. I found myself with 10 – 20 lives on average so while the game increased in difficulty I didn’t hit a ‘Game Over’ screen very often which had me less worried about dying and more focused on enjoying the game.
You can also earn power-ups in you inventory like ‘Super Mario World‘ and ‘Super Mario 3‘ but while in those games I was always popping a fire flower or mushroom, in this game I very rarely used them. I think Yoshi has such a variety of abilities from the get-go that I believed I just needed to master them to finish the game.
I love this game. It’s charming, unique and very rewarding. It’s not my favorite Mario game because it’s not a Mario game it’s a Yoshi game and that’s what makes it so great. You do you Yoshi. You do you.