Yoshi's Touch & Go Preview
We spend some time ferrying Baby Mario around with the Japanese version of Yoshi's Touch & Go.
It's hard not to be charmed by Yoshi's Touch & Go after having played it for any length of time. The game makes very good use of the unique features of the Nintendo DS to breathe new life into the gameplay, and having spent a while with the import version, we're all the more excited for this game's eventual English release.
There are two single-player gameplay modes open at the beginning of the game (and two more unlockable modes). One mode measures your success by the number of points you earn along the way by collecting coins and defeating enemies, and the second mode rewards you based on the distance you're able to gain going into an increasingly difficult level. Both modes start off with Baby Mario floating down through the sky attached to three balloons. Mario is visible on the top screen, while on the bottom screen you're kept busy using the stylus to draw lines of clouds to guide the falling infant into coins and around any obstacles that appear on the way.
There are a lot of neat things you can do with the cloud-drawing mechanic. If you draw a tight circle of cloud around an enemy, it'll get turned into a coin encased in a bubble, and you can use your stylus to drag the orb around the touch screen. You can then fling it up to the top screen and into the floating Mario (who giggles as the bubble pops and he collects the coin goodness), or you can try to position it so that Mario will eventually fall past it and collect it that way. Red and blue coins are worth more points, but they often require careful threading through stationary objects that threaten to pop Mario's balloons, therefore, you'll have to be quick and precise in where you draw your clouds.
Once Mario makes it to Earth, he'll be collected by a waiting Yoshi, and so begins the side-scrolling part of the adventure. The pair will march forward at a steady pace without any help from you--you can tap Yoshi to make him jump and hold the stylus on him midair to make him hover. Much like in the previous mode, you can draw lines of clouds to help Yoshi cross gaps, and you can circle enemies to turn them into coins. You can even bubble up objects like fruit, and then drag them using your stylus into Yoshi's waiting jaws. You can do this with anything you've bubbled up, so you don't need to waste a tossed egg to get most enemies on the ground.
Some foes can't be bubbled, though, so you'll have to be able to smack your more obstinate enemies out of your way using eggs while making sure to draw clouds over any gaps and jumping when you need to. Since you do all this with the stylus and can only do one thing at a time, you'll be doing a lot of quick thinking in order to guide your charges to safety when things get hairy. Since you can't bubble enemies and objects on the top screen, you'll be able to use eggs to try to collect the bounty of coins and other goodies that pass by, as well as preemptively strike foes before they swoop upon you.
It might seem like using your drawn clouds to get over gaps and into hard-to-reach loot makes the game simple, but there's another thing to contend with, and that's the wind. Periodically a gust of wind will blow across the screen and whisk away any clouds you've drawn, which can put you in a hard spot if you're in the middle of crossing one of the many large gaps along your way. Therefore, you'll learn to be conservative in where you draw your clouds and how much you trust them, since you'll often have a limited amount of time to save yourself from a tumble or a formerly trapped foe. By the same token, if you flub up your own cloud drawings (while helping Mario or Yoshi), you can quickly get them out of your way by blowing into the mic on the DS, which causes all your clouds to be pulled offscreen, letting you continue. The game is played using just these tools--the stylus and the mic--to proceed, and they work very well in concert to get you through most challenges you'll face.
There's a two-player versus mode in the game as well, which will let you pit yourself against a friend with a DS in a side-scrolling race to collect points and get to the goal. Your opponent appears on the top screen while you play on the bottom in an endurance race to the end. You can't actually interfere with the second player by lobbing eggs at them, so you'll just have to concern yourself with surviving as long as you can while perhaps occasionally peeking at your rival's progress. We were only able to play the one mode in two-player, and there's no word yet if unlocking the other single-player modes will provide any more content for multiplayer.
The game is bright, sharp, and colorful on both DS screens, and the environments and creatures all retain their Yoshi's Island design and charm. The title has a lot of fun with the DS's unique features, and we're looking forward to spending more time with the English version. The domestic release of Yoshi's Touch & Go is fast approaching, so fans will soon be bubbling enemies and scribbling clouds to their hearts' content. Stay tuned to this gamespace for more coverage as Yoshi's Touch & Go draws near.
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