Yoshi’s New Island Review

New isn’t always better, like when it comes with many arbitrary additions like giant eggs and motion controls as Yoshi's New Island does

Release Date: March 14, 2014Platform: 3DSDeveloper: ArzestPublisher: NintendoGenre: Platformer

Nintendo has made a habit over the years of repurposing their own content for newer generations of gamers. We first saw it happen with the line of ongoing New Super Mario Bros. titles, which took the classic sidescrolling gameplay of a Super Mario Bros. game and made it pop with gorgeous 2.5D visuals. Donkey Kong Country was the next to get the remake treatment with 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns and this year’s fantastic follow-up on the Wii U, Tropical Freeze. But now Nintendo has turned their sights on another classic title from their Super Nintendo catalogue: the untouchable Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and its 2006 sequel, Yoshi’s Island DS. But does the aptly named Yoshi’s New Island offer more than just a bit of happy nostalgia, or does it only serve to remind us that some good things are meant to stay in the past?

For the most part, the gameplay in Yoshi’s New Island remains largely the same as the Super Nintendo classic, and favors careful puzzle solving over actual platforming. Players take control of several different colored Yoshi as they make their way across each segmented world, carrying Baby Mario to safety on their backs. Yoshi has the ability to slurp up enemies with his tongue and transform them into eggs, which he can then carefully throw in order to solve environmental puzzles, uncover hidden secrets, or just generally progress in the stage. If you get hit by a baddie, then Baby Mario goes flying off in a protective bubble, and you’ll have a certain number of seconds to retrieve him before his whining becomes too much to bear.

The first big change this time around is in the game’s presentation, with Yoshi’s New Island looking like it’s made entirely out of 3D chalk drawings—I think. It’s hard to tell sometimes because the visual direction never looks all that particularly good, except during the opening cut scene and a few other areas if you have the 3D effect turned all the way up. What’s even more disappointing is the game’s grating new soundtrack, which butchers the traditional Yoshi’s Island theme by making it sound like a class of kindergarteners recorded it with kazoos and whistles. I’ve never been one to really care about a game’s soundtrack before, but given the sheer annoyance factor of this one, I feel like I would be doing a disservice not to mention it: keep your volume off!

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In trying to keep up with that “New” designation, Nintendo tried to add a few new mechanics into the mix, although they mostly feel like gimmicks rather than adding to the core essence of a Yoshi’s Island game. The most notable new feature is in the giant eggs that Yoshi is able to produce and throw for massive environmental damage (there is also a giant metal egg variety that’s capable of destroying stone). I actually found these segments to slow down the overall pacing of a level whenever they happened to turn up, as there was rarely an inventive use for the giant eggs other than destroying a clear-cut path forward.

Another arbitrary new addition is in the little motion-controlled mini-games of sorts that weave their way into the main gameplay of several levels, sort of like the vehicle-based segments from Kirby’s Epic Yarn. In these sections, Yoshi transforms into various things like helicopters, jackhammers, and cars, and it’s your job to tilt your 3DS and navigate through the area. Though fun at times, these moments will quickly take you out of the overall Yoshi’s Island experience, and ultimately end up feeling just like another thing Nintendo thought to add just so it wouldn’t be a straight port of a game that came out in 1995. Along those lines, there are a lot of puzzle solutions in Yoshi’s New Island that seem similar, if not absolutely identical to classic scenarios from the original game.

The levels are all incredibly short, but they’re also so inherently slow-paced that I often found myself only able to complete a few of them in a single sitting before growing restless and needing a break. Of course, that isn’t to say that Yoshi’s New Island is never without any moments of ingenuity, as many of its quick boss fights offer a breath of fresh air against the general slog that is present in other areas of the game. But for every step forward, the game just seems to take two steps back, like the plethora of randomly hidden “?” clouds which makes 100% completion in most levels feel like a chore, and the awkward two-player mini-game mode that feels like another big tack-on.

So when all is said and done, I’m not really sure what kind of audience that Yoshi’s New Island is supposed to be catering to, but I think the people who would enjoy it the most are those who never played the original game, and frankly don’t know all that much about it either. The chalk-themed visuals and kindergarten soundtrack make it seem like the game is geared for very young children, and the awkward new additions like rigid giant eggs and motion-based mini-games only seem to add to that fact. The entire time it just made me wish I was playing Yoshi’s Island on the SNES instead, and sadly that is the lasting impression that Yoshi’s New Island will leave you with in the end.



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3 out of 5