The anticipated sequel to the Super Nintendo masterpiece just ends up being an average platformer.
Way back when on the Super Nintendo, Nintendo released an unlikely sequel to the smash hit Super Mario World. This sequel involved Yoshi, the green, egg-spitting reptilian carrying baby Mario on his back and firing eggs at all sorts of targets. Even when it said goodbye to the more traditional Mario platforming format, Yoshi's Island was still an incredible game. Its vibrancy and charm captured the attention of many gamers and quickly became the classic we know today.
In 2006, almost 11 years after Yoshi's Island, Nintendo released a sequel called Yoshi's Island DS. With Artoon at the helm of development, who had previously developed Yoshi Topsy Turvy, would they be capable of crafting a sequel to a renowned masterpiece? Here is my honest review.
Gamers who played through the original Yoshi's Island will most likely be quite familiar with its basic plot. Yoshi's Island DS follows the same premise as the original, after Kamek, a nefarious Magikoopa attempts to steal babies across the world. One day, baby Mario falls from the sky and lands straight on Yoshi's back (again) and after a quick chat with the other Yoshis, they all prepare to rescue the babies once again. It's a simple plot and just like the original, it works well enough for the game.
As you play through Yoshi's Island DS, you'll come to rescue several of these babies. Without spoiling the game, it wouldn't be too difficult to guess who those new babies might be. Either way, they end up being playable, meaning you'll have multiple babies to choose from and they can be switched at selected points in each stage. While the concept of having multiple babies is a great idea, it never feels executed well enough. The reason the original was so fun was because you didn't have to stop repeatedly throughout a stage to toggle through about 6 different babies. If it was easier to switch between babies, it may have been an acceptable feature in the game, but it just ends up slowing the pace of the game down.
Even so, having multiple characters to use really helps to open up the gameplay to a whole new degree. Puzzles now have more depth and the level structure really requires you to think about what baby would be the best choice, especially if you're a completist going after the extra collectibles.
Yoshi's Island DS works like so: you can swallow and devour most enemies and turn them into eggs. You can carry up to 6 eggs at once, all of which follow you as you explore the various stages. You can use these eggs to throw at larger enemies, boss fights and random targets. As you make your way through a stage, you'll come across stars. Stars increase your star count to a maximum of 30 points. If you get hurt, the baby on your back will fall off and float around in the air and wait for you to rescue it as your star count gradually depletes. If your stars reach zero, Kamek's minions will fly down and take the baby away, causing you to lose a life.
While the core gameplay of Yoshi's Island DS is acceptable as a stand-alone platformer, it really doesn't size up to the originals solid controls. Movement generally feels slower and clunky, while large jumps feel sluggish. If you intend to jump up onto a higher platform, the hit boxes are completely off, so you'll sometimes struggle to get on top of it. While it may sound like a trivial complaint, gamers who played the original will miss the no-nonsense gameplay mechanics. It's a disappointment really, considering how a simple control scheme can be changed into a frustrating one.
Another big gripe is aimed at the double screens. The stages will be split into 2, meaning you'll often have a hard time getting your aim correct when shooting at the top screen. It's a shame that a game of skill has been turned upside down into a luck-fest. Again, this is another prime example of how the gameplay in Yoshi's Island DS has been slowed down. You'll often waste most of your eggs because the angles are difficult to calculate on the top screen, meaning you'll be wasting time and valuable eggs.
The presentation is mostly the same as the original (which is good). The way the stages are structured is mostly similar to those seen in the original game. There are some pretty fun new obstacles spread throughout the game, with the exception of Wario's magnet platforms, which are often a pain to overcome.
Graphics are fresh and stylish, with a "crayon" effect in a lot of the games stages. It's a great, cartoony sort of look that was also present in the Super Nintendo game. This time is doesn't have the same impact as the original, but it still passes as an attractive game even if the graphics aren't on par with other DS games.
The sounds may be a problem for some. Expect the loud shrills of crying babies if you get hit a lot, which will undoubtedly irritate some people. The soundtrack is generally not as memorable as the original, but none of the music got on my nerves during my play through so there's no reason for me to complain about it.
Overall, Yoshi's Island DS can be considered somewhat as a letdown when stood next to the original. It's gameplay has become a tangled web of ideas that just end up spoiling the best parts of the game. What used to be a simple, phenomenal platformer is now a messy, average one. Chances are people who haven't played the original won't see much wrong with this. If that's the case, go ahead and enjoy it. But for fans of the Super Nintendo's stunning success, you'll only find irritation and eventually the thoughts of what could have been.
- Beautifully presented designs
- Interesting puzzles
- Plenty of stages to play though
- Vital gameplay mechanics are slightly flawed
- Top screen just ends up getting in the way
- Baby-switching system is slow and tedious
- Boss fights are uninspired compared to original