Not as good as its predecessor but the fun remains the same
Just like most Mario games the title kicks off with a silly presentation that shows Bowser's newest plan to conquer the Universe. This time around he is after the "Star Babies" and therefore travels to the past kidnapping Baby Luigi and causing the Yoshis to begin a rescuing mission going through the different lands of their island. It is a silly plot but a Mario game without Bowser and an embarrassingly over the top scheme to conquer the world would certainly feel strange.
As it happened on Super Mario World you will travel as a Yoshi carrying a baby, get hit by an enemy and the baby will start to cry, on a very annoying manner, and float around the stage in a bubble. If you are unable rescue the baby before the timer expires a group of Bowser's servants will appear on screen to take him away. Yoshi has a bunch of cool moves like his traditional ground pound and his ability to do long jumps and stay in the air for a great amount of time. He can also collect eggs to throw at enemies by either swallowing foes or finding egg boxes.
This time around though the game gained a certain level of depth with the addition of new Babies with different abilities. Baby Mario is able to get a star power up, hit "M" blocks and make Yoshi run; Baby Peach has the ability to be carried by wind currents by using her umbrella; Baby DK grabs onto vines; Baby Wario uses a big magnet to attract metallic objects; and Baby Bowser breathes fire. Besides each Baby gives Yoshi a unique egg throwing skill.
The wide range of characters is well used by Nintendo as it allowed the developers to create a huge variety of levels, challenges and puzzles. Switching between one Baby and another and knowing all their abilities is very important especially if you are going for full completion, trying to collect the five flowers, twenty red coins and thirty stars on each level. This massive amount of collectibles boosts the replay value of the game, something that becomes vital as you notice how quickly the five worlds, each one with eight stages, can be finished. Each world also features two secret stages that will require a lot of skill to unlock. Having only five worlds is aggravated by the fact that the game only picks up steam after its first world as the initial eight stages feel like a big introduction to the game's mechanics.
Being short is not the game's only issue though. Its easiness is also a big shortcoming, while some of the game's late stages will have you throwing the Nintendo DS at the nearest wall most of the game's levels are still extremely easy. Even the amazing boss battles powered by the system's two screens will feel lacking once you realize how stupidly easy it was to defeat a boss that looked big and mean.
The game's presentation doesn't show the same artistic quality as its wonderful predecessor as Nintendo abandoned the crayon hand-drawn look of Super Mario World 2 for a more traditional visual. Yet the game didn't lose all its charm as the visuals and characters look absolutely gorgeous, just like its fantastic animations. The game's soundtrack is basically comprised of unforgettable tunes that have been reworked, to a few new compositions. One thing didn't change though which is how annoying the crying of a baby sounds. However I refuse to complain, or discount points from the game because of it, as a Yoshi's Island game without disturbing crying wouldn't be the same.
Yoshi's Island DS is packed with content, collectibles, great presentation and fun. Its tight controls and replay value make up for any kind of shortcoming the game may present. While some of its levels are overly simple others present an astonishing level of depth as they feel more like dungeons, and fully completing the game is a task only a few will be able to achieve. Overall it is a great game that is a must-have for anyone who misses Super Mario World 2, or for those who have yet to get into this series.