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Yoshi’s Island DS Review

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Developer: Artoon Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: November 13, 2006 Also On: None

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was a Super Nintendo classic. Rather than putting the weight on Mario to save the day, it was the flutter-kicking, egg-throwing Yoshi who was in the spotlight. In fact, Mario was a mere baby! The game introduced a lot more collecting to the platforming Mario style. It also took emphasis off of jumping on enemies and blocks to solve puzzles and asked you to become a master of egg throwing. Yoshi’s Island DS, the spiritual sequel to the original, recently came out. Developed by Artoon, the game does a good job giving Yoshi’s Island fans more of what they liked. It doesn’t, however, introduce a whole lot of fresh material, and thus it gets a little old before the conclusion.

Yoshi’s taking a stroll through the peaceful Yoshi’s Island when Kamek and his Toadies, who are always up to no good, start abducting babies. Four of these babies are Nintendo heroes–Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Donkey Kong. Somehow the Toadies lose track of Baby Mario, who falls on the back of Yoshi once again. The Yoshis decide to come to the aid of the babies once again and stop Kamek all over again.

The gameplay extremely familiar–the first level, in fact, is essentially a re-make of the original’s first level, down to the location of the red coins, flowers, and stars. Your primary goal is to reach the end of each level and take on Kamek’s minions in castles scattered throughout six worlds of eight levels each. In each level, you’ll track down 20 red coins and 5 flowers while trying to avoid taking damage and finding 30 stars. That’s a lot to collect, but you’re rewarded in the form of mini-games for doing it. Flying through the levels is easy enough, but finding everything is what the real challenge is.

The new gameplay features are very limited and the biggest one is the ability to switch between Baby Mario and his three buddies. Each baby has an ability that the others don’t. For example, Baby Peach carries an umbrella that can be used in junction with wind to float to higher platforms. Baby Donkey Kong can perform a shoulder charge and swing or climb on vines. These different abilities are nice and force you to re-play some levels to find everything, but feel like a really cheap addition to the game. I’d have liked to see more benefits from each baby; for example, Baby Peach using some of Peach’s abilities from Super Princess Peach or fireballs from Baby Mario.

At least the game controls pretty well. Flinging eggs is done with several different buttons, and the target reticle can be held in place. Yoshi’s flutter kick is somewhat difficult to control, but it always was. It’s disappointing that there are no touch screen functions outside of the menus and select bonus games–what’s up with that? Is this a new trend; creating DS games that completely neglect the touch screen during gameplay? I don’t like it! They could have at least made egg-throwing done by using the stylus, I’d think that would allow for some pretty precise throws.

This game’s presentation beats you to death with the cute stick. The original Yoshi’s Island art style was great and it’s nothing less here–in fact, this is one of Nintendo’s best 2D efforts. The environments and enemies are very colorful, and the Yoshis are as cute as could be. Everything animates very well. The babies are pretty adorable, too, until a Shy Guy comes along and knocks them off Yoshi’s back, initiating that dreadfully annoying cry that was made infamous in the original Yoshi’s Island. I can remember the days, being ten years old and seriously contemplating stomping on my SNES because of that god-awful sound effect. That’s the only headache-inducing flaw when it comes to the game’s sounds, though–the music is appropriately cute, and you wouldn’t expect to hear anything different while playing Yoshi’s Island DS. In fact, some of the tunes were impossible to stop humming.

After reading through this review, you might start to wonder if Yoshi’s Island DS is a bad game. Let me clarify; it’s not. In fact, it’s a very good game. It takes every element from a classic video game and recreates them. It just doesn’t do anything new. If you’ve played Yoshi’s Island, you’ve done almost everything here before. It’s really up to you if you want to spend $35 to do it all over again. To those of you who haven’t played that SNES classic, heavily consider Yoshi’s Island DS. Everyone else might want to think otherwise, because there’s not enough fresh material here.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7.7
Written by Cliff Review Guide