First Impressions of Yoshi

Nintendo came by with the final Japanese Yoshi's Story, and we played the hell out of it.

When I first saw Yoshi's Story boot up, it was like a dream - a 2D-style platform game that looks 3D. Being the fan of platformers that I am, I was instantly glued to Story, a game I'd been waiting to see since the launch of the N64. Needless to say I wasn't disappointed (not much, anyway).

The sound in Story is amazing, complete with Yoshies singing, guitars playing, and music that sets the mood for each level. At the end of each "world," there's even a song sung by the Yoshies - some people listening to the song figured that they were chanting "Nin-ten-dooo." There's a music box feel to each of the tunes, and you'll find yourself humming them even after being away from the game for a few hours.

Needless to say, the graphics are amazing. I was skeptical at first that the game would look too much like a cut-and-paste job, with 3D graphics "pasted" onto the backgrounds, but everything looks great. Even the 2D-style flat characters on the map screen look very good, mildly Parappa-ish but good. You'll find yourself, as I did, going through each level and letting out "whoah's" and "ooooh's" throughout the game. Each stage is different from the next, and each presents its own challenge. The game's animation is super smooth too.

Nintendo has not slacked off on the controls either. The analog pad is easy to use and intuitive, and the controls become instinctive quickly. I found myself narrowly escaping certain death several times, all due to the very tight control. Yoshi's airwalk is still in, and you can propel yourself higher than in Yoshi's Island.

There's only one area where Yoshi's Story is disappointing - it's just very short. You need to find hearts on each of the stages in order to make more levels open up in the next world, but even if you do that, the game is a little lacking. Less than two hours after starting, I was watching the ending. Granted, I took the straightforward route, but it's kind of disheartening to be watching the ending of a game on the same day you bought it. We were told that Nintendo is adding a save feature to the US version, but it's unknown whether it will be making additional changes. One can hope that Nintendo will make sure you go through each of the game's stages before going on to the next, making the whole game seem longer.

Still, Yoshi's Story is a fantastic display of the N64's power, not to be missed when it's released on March 9 in the US.

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