It's probably unfair to try to compare this title with Super Mario World and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, the company's last - and fantastic - 2D forays into the wonderful realm of Mario. It's likewise also wrongful to expect every successive game that appears from under master designer Shigeru Miyamoto's wing to be even more impressive than the last (especially since he left this one to his right-hand man, Takashi Tezuka, to act as the main producer). With that said and done, taken to heart and judged on its own merits, Nintendo's Yoshi's Story still comes off as a very disappointing experience indeed.
To back up a bit, here's how it works. You begin the game as one of six differently colored Yoshis (for the uninitiated, they're kind of a saccharine version of a velociraptor), which represent the dwindling number of lives you're provided to complete the game. As the cute creature, you use the skills you're given to track down and gobble up 30 pieces of Super Happy Tree Fruit in at least six of 24 levels to win. Luckily, the Yoshis are quite adept at many maneuvers, such as running, jumping, stomping, chomping, egg tossing, and even sniffing out clues leading to the location of hidden items.
But the game's not all about eating the first bits of produce that happen your way, since lining up a string of the same items provides score bonuses and even more if they're special. These more noteworthy bites are the fruits that match up to the color of the Yoshi you're currently playing with; the "special of the day" is whatever item was chosen in the game's slot machine-like opening sequence. Either will give your Yoshi more life and points than gleaned through grabbing just the average bit of fruit.
The gameplay is your average running, jumping, and bopping seen in any number of previous Nintendo 2D side-scrolling games, but the almost trademarked sense of challenge is missing here. Enemies, even bosses, can be dispatched very easily, and there's more a pervading feeling of trying to keep yourself busy (almost like a cat playing with a mouse) than being kept on your toes by your foes. The graphics of the six differently themed pages (water, castle, green, cavern, clouds, and ice) are sometimes very impressive; however, save for a few special effects and eye-candy backgrounds, it appears as if the game could've been created for the SNES.
The value of Yoshi's Story is somewhat of a sticky issue, as the game might at first appear to be very short. But further investigation will reveal that there's more to it. It was obviously designed so that younger players could play through quickly and feel some sense of accomplishment, but there's definitely a little something here for hard-core gamers. This comes in the form of three hidden hearts in each of the 24 levels, which - without the aid of a strategy guide or FAQ - can take almost a solid week comprising eight-hour days to find. Still, Yoshi's Story doesn't provide lots of motivation to make you want to pull this off or really even play the game for more than 20 minutes. After a while, you realize it's the same trick over and over: find a piece of fruit, find a heart, find a piece of fruit, find a heart. Altogether, it's just not a lot of fun.
The slight changes that Nintendo made to the game from the Japanese version (such as an unnoticeable increase in difficulty and the addition of letters that you must collect for the best ending) didn't really seem to improve the title at all. In the end, Yoshi's Story is good for a rental at best.