Once upon a time there were two babies, Mario & Luigi, that were being delivered by a stork to their new parents. That was how Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island ended, and it’s also how Yoshi’s New Island begins. However, the beginning of Yoshi’s New Island reveals that Yoshi’s Island wasn’t a happy ending, as it’s revealed that the stork delivered the babies to the wrong house, which forces the stork to reroute. When the stork does that, he is ambushed by the evil Kamek who kidnaps the stork and Luigi, leaving Mario tumbling to the island below.
The island is Egg Island, which is inhabited by many happy Yoshis, but was recently conquered by Baby Bowser. When Mario lands on Egg Island, he immediately begins crawling to rescue Luigi and the stork though his telekinetic abilities that allow him to sense exactly where Luigi is. The Yoshis, realizing that they can’t just let a baby crawl through the dangerous island alone, agree to take turns carrying the baby throughout each of its treacherous levels. Thus, the adventure to save a missing brother and finally be delivered to the right parents begins.
The gameplay in Yoshi’s New Island is a continuation of the gameplay found in previous Yoshi installments. As you carry Baby Mario, you have the ability to swallow enemies whole and turn them into Yoshi eggs that you can then shoot at other enemies, switches or breakable objects. Yoshi’s famous jump Flutter Jump is back, which allows him to extend his normal jump by several spaces thanks to his fluttering feet. Also, the Yoshi series’ interesting health system is back. When you are hit by an enemy, instead of having a normal health meter that depletes with each hit, you are given an amount of time that you have to reclaim Baby Mario that is sent floating around in a bubble. If the time runs out, Kamek’s minions will capture Baby Mario and the game is over. However, you can still die by falling into holes or lava. Yoshi isn’t invincible, after all.
The additions to the gameplay aren’t revolutionary, but they do result in some interesting segments in the game. The biggest addition is the Mega Eggdozers, which allows Yoshi to acquire huge eggs to knock down walls or to submerge to the bottom of a pool of water. It’s pretty fun sitting back and watching your giant egg of doom demolishing entire structures in a level as you reap the rewards. The other addition is the use of the 3DS’ motion control, which requires the player to tilt the 3DS left or right as you control a jackhammer, helicopter or submarine Yoshi through obstacles containing many coins. Though not exactly amazing, I found these segments to be enjoyable enough, as they weren’t overdone and controlled better then I expected them to.
Apart from the standard goal of besting the enemies and getting to the end of the level, there are also many collectibles for you to nab along the way. The collectibles are mini stars that bounce around when you find them, sunflowers that smile as you hopelessly try reach their locations and red coins that are obtained by collecting many regular coins. Some of these will appear in plain sight while others require you to be more creative, which makes searching every nook and cranny of the levels and utilizing all of Yoshi’s abilities pretty rewarding.
Yoshi’s New Island is set up like any classic 2d Mario sidescroller: You are given a handful of worlds that contain 8 levels each with a mini-boss and boss level. The bosses in this game consist of dealing with the evil Kamek once per world, and then also dealing with one of Kamek’s mutated animals. The boss fights aren’t super hard, but they do utilize Yoshi’s abilities well and are fun to play through. In the Kamek boss fights you are usually finding a way to turn his own magical powers against him, while the other boss fights require brute force.
The biggest appeal of Yoshi’s New Island is its beautiful visuals. The whole game looks like a beautiful painting with very bright and vibrant colors, giving the whole game a truly unique feel. This results in some great level design in the background and foreground, and the 3DS’ 3D-feature makes these environments truly come alive. Yoshi’s New Island is definitely one of the best-looking 3DS games I have seen thus far.
The complaints that some will have with Yoshi’s New Island will be its difficulty and length. The game can be completed in about 6 hours, and up until the last few levels it is pretty easy going. However, the level design and variety that is consistently incorporated into the gameplay prevented the game’s relatively easy difficulty from making the game become boring.
Also, there is a really fun 2-player mode that allows you to play with another person through 6 different modes that require you to toss eggs at as many balloons as possible within a time-limit, flutter jump as far as you can go while collecting the most coins and so on. Plus, if you are someone who is determined to master every level in the game by getting every collectible, you could easily double your play-time.
Yoshi’s New Island may not reinvent the wheel or offer an amazingly-refreshing gameplay experience, but each cog in this machine is so polished and works so well with everything else that it is hard to fault too much. Each level is fun to play through, the visuals are gorgeous and all of the charm that naturally comes from a Mario game is in full force. It’s a brief and easy game, but it’s one that put a smile on my face from beginning to end.