At first glance, Yoshi's Island DS seems like an uninspired rahash of an old classic. Well, looks can be deceiving!
Of course, it didn't take long till I realized that it wasn't really the same game, new storyline aside. It was much better. Not only does it look and feel better than the game it's based on, it takes advantage of the DS's double screen to give larger view of your surroundings. Just like in Super Mario World 2, you play as a band of Yoshi's that travel from world to world, transporting an important package that fell from the sky: Baby Mario. Only this time, there is more than just one baby. On your travels, you will come across baby Peach, baby DK, baby Wario and even a baby Bowser! These aren't just for show, though. Each time you reach a stork station, babies can be switched out one for the other, and each one has a certain special ability and come with a downside, something that has never been done in a Mario game till now. This gameplay element took me by surprise, especially since levels aren't necesarily straightforward. There are points where only certain babies can reach you (one example is how baby peach packs an umbrella that lets you ride the wind or how Donkey Kong can climb and swing from vines.). Sometimes this is essential for progressing in the level and other times it's just to reach special coins or flowers. Either way, it's a fantastic addition that allows for some replay value through each level as you try to perfect your score.
Just like in SMW2, Yoshi's Island DS is a 2D styled platformer with absolutely adorable.. well, everything. The music, the landscape, even the way Yoshi groans when trying to keep himself up in the air kicking is so cute. This game was made with the intention of keeping you smiling the whole time. The levels are huge and can get pretty challenging, although the difficulty is rather low since you're constantly bombared with lives (I finished with more than 50 of them) and even if you do run out of them, the game only makes you start over from the beginning of the level you're in. Not like other Mario games that would have you start an entire world over. Speaking of Worlds, there are only 5 in total, but the levels are so long that they kind of balance themselve out.
One thing I personally love about this game is how the difficulty totally depends on the player. For instance, my little sister plays with the intention of just finishing the level and she has a hard enough time as it is with her little experience in games like these. On the other hand, I'm a compulsive collector and a veteran of 2D platformers, so I definitely admire the fact that collecting all of the coins, stars and flowers in each level require some real effort. Basically, players young and old, beginners and experts, all win. Without exaggerating too much, I can happily say that Yoshi's Island is a spectacular addition to the Mario series and more importantly a must have on the DS. It is easily one of the few games I've tried that almost anyone can enjoy and fall in love with.