Hello there, Happy Katana fans, and welcome to another video game review. I figured, since I already reviewed Super Mario World, why not review its sequel? Wait, sequel? Well, it does have the 2 in it, so it must be a sequel. But it’s chronologically the first game in the series. So that would make it a prequel. But then why is there a 2 in the title? Gah! I’m confused here. Oh well, it doesn’t really matter. Now, a few years back, I did a review of this game on Video Game Critic (great website by the way, you should check it out) when it still had the “Reader Reviews” boards (I also did one on an old website called Pop Culture Heaven, but it is long gone): http://dmrozek.websitetoolbox.com/post/super-mario-world-2-yoshis-island-snes-5506678 I actually think it’s a pretty good review, but I have improved a lot since then, so I think a re-review would be better than the original. Also, you can see that my review style has changed quite a bit. So, without further adieu, here is my re-review of Yoshi’s Island.
This time around, Yoshi’s Island has a more developed story than Super Mario World. I mean, it’s not gonna win any awards or anything, but it still tells a decent story. The story is told by an intro cutscene while some dreamy, relaxing music plays. Dreamy, relaxing music that also sounds like the old Soviet National Anthem, oddly enough. Basically, the stork is off to take Mario and Luigi to their parents (yes, this game is the introduction to Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, though whether to give it credit or give it blame is up for debate). They run into some trouble, as they run into Kamek, who predicted that the babies would one day spell trouble for the Koopas and his Toadies, who kidnap poor Baby Luigi and whisks him off to Baby Bowser’s Castle. Mario, of course, escapes this fate. Ya know, because he’s the main character. Instead, he crash lands on Yoshi’s Island. These Yoshies decide to look after Baby Mario, and decide to help him rescue his brother. Wait, how the hell do they know Baby Mario and Luigi’s predicament? Oh well, it’s not important. Will they succeed? Of course they will. What the hell were you thinking?
You know how I said the music in Super Mario World was amazing? Well, Yoshi’s Island’s music blows the Super Mario World soundtrack out of the water. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is in my top ten video game OSTs of all time. OF ALL TIME! Literally every single song in this game is a winner. The Flower Garden is bright and cheery, a quality this game has in abundance, and it also sounds kind of folky with the harmonica. The Castle theme kind of sounds like an evil waltz, at least to me. Or perhaps an evil circus. Above Ground is a high energy, and again, happy sounding song with a tropical flavor to it. And it’s also on the awesome stage, Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy, which I will talk about in a little bit. And remember, how I said that Metal + Mario= Awesome? Well, it yet again applies to this game, as the final boss battle with Baby Bowser is one of the most kickass Heavy Metal theme songs in Mario, nay, video game history. This is even better than the Bowser theme from Super Mario World. But instead of me rambling on about how great the soundtrack is, why don’t you give it a listen for yourself?
One more thing I’m gonna address is Baby Mario’s crying. Now, just like everyone else who’s ever played this game, I used to think it was one of the most annoying things in gaming history. I truly hated Baby Mario for his incessant bawling. But you know what? I’ve come to appreciate it as a feature. It’s realistic. If a baby gets hurt, is in a dangerous situation, or something scary happens, what the hell is he going to do? He’s going to cry, of course. It also creates a sense of peril, as a timer also counts down when this happens, and you realize that it’s your responsibility to ensure the safety of this baby, and this is a great way to enforce that. So yes, I have grown quite fond of the crying.
And now onto the most polarizing part of the game (well, besides Baby Mario’s crying). I am of course talking about the visuals. Some people were turned off by them, while others loved the unique art that Yoshi’s Island brought to the table. I am one of those people. Seriously, I love Yoshi’s Island’s distinctive “crayon” art style. It’s incredibly unique, and you don’t see these kind of visuals very often. I think that should change. I prefer odd, unique graphics or colorful graphics over realistic graphics. And these graphics are certainly odd, unique, and very colorful. Like Super Mario World, this game has some cool Mode 7 effects, but I think the coolest graphical trick on display here is utilized in the level, Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy, which actually affects the gameplay as well. I know I keep mentioning it, but I promise I’ll tell you just why I love this level so much soon. This is perhaps the best looking game on the SNES, or at least one of them. Fun fact: Yoshi’s Island is one of only three games on the SNES to utilize the Super FX 2 chip.
Although this game has an excellent soundtrack and some of my all time favorite visuals on any game, where Yoshi’s Island truly shines is in the fun department. Although it is a Platformer like previous and future Mario games, the gameplay is actually quite different from the other Mario Platformers. This is definitely not your traditional Mario game. While it still does contain all the running and jumping that you’ve come to know and love from Mario games, the main mechanic here is eating enemies. But not only do you eat them, you turn them into eggs which you can use to kill other enemies, as well as clear paths, hit clouds with coins, collect stuff, and more. Wait, you’re throwing unborn babies at stuff? This is the Yoshi equivalent of abortion! And people think Mario is all sunshine and rainbows. Power ups consist of red watermelons, which let Yoshi spit fire, blue watermelons, which allow you to freeze enemies, and regular green watermelons, which let you spit seeds. There’s also an invincibility star that turns Baby Mario into a super hero and Yoshi into a giant egg that can be thrown as many times as possible during the invincibility. There are some other cool gameplay mechanics too, including a flutter jump to reach higher areas and a ground pound. Oh, and I love transforming into the various vehicles/machines, especially the submarine, since it allows you to shoot torpedoes. It’s a cool concept that I’d love to see in Yoshi’s New Island.
Like most Platformers, there are a lot of things to collect in this game. For instance, Yoshi’s Island is the first Mario game to include red coins. There are also flowers which are collected for the chance to play minigames, five in each stage and Point Stars that increase the timer for when Baby Mario is in danger. Speaking of minigames, the ones in this game are quite fun, if I do say so myself. It has the old standards, like Slots, Scratch Cards, and Match Cards (basically Memory), but the real standout among them are the Mini Battles with Bandit. These Mini Battles involve collecting coins, a version of hot potato with ever expanding balloons, popping balloons, and spitting seeds at each other. Truly fun stuff.
You can’t talk about a Platformer without talking about the level design, and boy, does this game have great level design. I especially love the level, Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy. In this level, there are these things called Fuzzies (unrelated to the enemy), and when you touch them, things get a little weird. The level starts moving around, making it more challenging, and the music slows down. Basically, you’re tripping balls. Wow, there goes any allegations of this game being “kiddy.” The other levels are great, too, but this one may be the most creative. In addition to the level design, the boss fights are another standout in Yoshi’s Island. All the boss fights are fun and challenging, with the exception of Roger The Potted Ghost, perhaps the easiest boss in video game history. Bigger Boo is defeated by throwing eggs at the wall, which ricochet to hit him. During the Prince Froggy boss fight, you get shrunk and eaten, and must eat giant Shy Guy’s to make giant eggs to throw at his uvula. Raphael Raven’s stage takes place on a revolving moon that may have been an extremely early inspiration for Super Mario Galaxy. And yet again, the Bowser boss fight is awesome in this game. After defeating his normal form, Kamek decides to turn Baby Bowser into a giant, and it gets quite intense as you must throw giant eggs at him while he walks slowly, but menacingly closer. It’s every bit as good as the Super Mario World Bowser battle, if not better. Oh, and how can I talk about the bosses without at least a brief mention of their minions? There are many unique enemies that were either only in this game, or seen rarely since, including Aqua Lakitu, Mildes, and Tap Taps, in addition to the regular Mario enemies, like Chain Chomps and Koopa Troopas.
Let me just be the one to say it, Yoshi’s Island is a top notch game indeed. It has pretty much everything you’d want in a great game: Great graphics, amazing soundtrack, inventive level design, great mechanics, and overall, high fun factor and replayability. Though it may not have been a true sequel to the excellent Super Mario World, I feel it definitely lived up to that game. Hell, I prefer Yoshi’s Island. I know this may create some controversy, but not only is this my all time favorite Mario Platformer, but if you ask me, it’s without a doubt the greatest Platformer ever made, period.