Yoshi's Touch & Go Hands-On

We played one of the cutest games ever on the Nintendo DS today. Finally, Baby Mario is back in action.

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SEATTLE--The first game we tried on the Nintendo DS at today's Gamer's Summit improbably ended up being our favorite, and it wasn't one we even knew the first thing about before we sat down with it. Yoshi's Touch & Go is a new 2D action game that's stylistically almost identical to the classic Yoshi's Island but that you play entirely with the stylus and touch screen. The innovative gameplay and charming style of the game had us running through the brief demo several times before the end of the day.

At the beginning of the demo, Baby Mario began falling through the sky, suspended by a cluster of balloons. This was a treacherous sky, full of bad guys (but also full of coins), and it was up to us to direct Mario's descent to earth by drawing lines of cloud with the DS' stylus that would gently guide him along. The tricky part is that Mario was seen only on the top screen, while the bottom screen (being the touch-sensitive one) was naturally the only one we could draw on. So we constantly had to resist the urge to watch Mario himself and see where he was going, because we already had to be preparing the next section of the sky for his arrival. Basically, to get through this part, we had to stop looking at Mario at all to get to the ground without disaster.

We found straight diagonal lines to be useful for making Mario move along a line of coins, enhancing our score, and we also found out that most enemies could be encircled in a ring of cloud, which would then transmute them into a harmless bubble containing a tasty coin. Again, this is all played with no aid from the d-pad or buttons--Mario's fall is automatic, and you can only affect it by establishing guide-clouds for him to fall against.

Once he reached the ground, Mario landed right on Yoshi's back and the side-scrolling portion of the demo began. This part was almost identical to Yoshi's Island, with Yoshi trailing a line of eggs that could be launched at enemies or collectible items along a chosen trajectory. The big difference here is that Yoshi ran forward at all times without any input from us, so we had to think fast to make sure he and Mario got where they were going safely.

In this part, tapping Yoshi with the stylus made him jump, while tapping him again in the air made him perform that little hover move he's so good at. Like in the previous section, we were able to draw lines of cloud in the air here, which came in handy when we encountered pitfalls that were too wide for Yoshi to jump across safely. In this section, the second screen depicted the sky up above filled with coin configurations, so when we had a second to spare, we managed to launch the occasional egg skyward to snag a few extra points. Once we reached the end of this short level, the demo sadly ended.

To us, Yoshi's Touch & Go is a great example of the kind of games that could potentially make wary gamers understand the unique features of the Nintendo DS. Whether or not the concept will extend to an entire game--and, more importantly, whether or not consumers will embrace such a game--remains to be seen, but for now, we're very intrigued (and we'd like to play that demo a few more times, please). We'll bring you more on the game as soon as we know about it.

For more updates on the Nintendo DS and other impressions and media, check out GameSpot's coverage of Nintendo's Gamer's Summit.

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