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Yoshi's New Island is solid, baby

Mar 21, 2014

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Yoshi's New IslandNintendo is in danger of completely sullying the meaning of the word "new" by using it in far too many recent titles - New Super Mario Bros., New Super Luigi U, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, just to name a few. While none of these games offer anything revolutionary, they're all mostly-enjoyable entries in decades-old series, and the same holds true of Nintendo's latest 3DS title, Yoshi's New Island.

In terms of Nintendo franchises, Yoshi's Island is relatively new and untapped, appearing only twice before 2014, both previous times also on handhelds (2002's Yoshi's Island on Gameboy Advance and 2006's Yoshi's Island DS on Nintendo DS).

In Yoshi's New Island, the cute little dinosaurs are once again tasked with carrying around a baby version of Mario, this time as they search for baby Luigi, who becomes lost after he and his brother are dropped by a thoroughly inept stork.

Yoshi's New IslandAs alluded to earlier, the core gameplay isn't different from what we've seen before, as each Yoshi will rely on its abilities to flutter jump, toss eggs, and gobble up enemies to get through the game's six worlds. The thing is, with the Yoshi's Island series only three games young, and the last entry being released nearly a decade ago, these mechanics still feel fresh and new.

There are some sections sprinkled throughout the campaign that see Yoshi transform into objects such as a sled, jackhammer, and helicopter. Players control these Yoshis using the 3DS' gyroscope and while these areas do change things up for a few moments, they feel like nothing more than lame gimmicks. Luckily, these sections are few and far between, and therefore don't take away from the flow of the rest of the game.

The campaign is pretty standard fare as you travel from level to level and world to world. You'll see the usual Nintendo platformer environments (desert, water, snow, etc), while traversing castles and taking on Shy Guys, Koopas, Goombas, and more.

Yoshi's New IslandAnd like so many of these games before it, finishing each level in one piece is only half the fun. The real hook - and challenge - lies in finding all the hidden goodies found throughout each stage.

In Yoshi's New Island, those goodies are three-fold - Smiley Flowers, Red Coins, and Stars. Earning the required number of each item will result in unlocking hidden stages, adding more playability to a game that isn't all that long to begin with. Players with even just a bit of experience with platformers are sure to fly through most of the game, with only the sixth world adding some true challenge to the mix.

I'm well-versed in being required to find hidden stuff in these types of games, and I'm used to revisiting levels in order to earn everything, but I do take issue with some of the randomness on display in Yoshi's New Island.

Many items are invisible, and can only be uncovered by running or jumping over completely random spots in a level. There's literally no hint as to where some items are hidden, making the game feel a tad unfair at times; skilled players have just as good a chance as a novice at stumbling upon a randomly-placed floating cloud that holds that last set of stars you need to "100%" a particular level.

This won't be a huge issue with the player who doesn't need to find everything, but there's a good chance it'll be maddening to the completionist who plays Yoshi's New Island.

Yoshi's New IslandThe level design early on doesn't feel close to the quality you'll typically see in a first-party Nintendo platformer, but the game only gets better the deeper you get into the campaign. The last stage in each world culminates in a boss fight that's typically fun to watch, but isn't terribly difficult. It's actually the mid-world battles against the evil wizard Kamek that really show off the developer's creativity, as they require a little more brainpower.

The 3DS has never been one for all-out horsepower in terms of graphics, and developers often opt for unique art style over ultra-realism, and Yoshi's New Island is no different. I'm a big fan of the game's hand-drawn backgrounds, and while it may sound picky to harp on character models in a game starring a goofy little dinosaur and a diapers-clad baby, I did expect more when it came to the look of the protagonists.

While some players may not think twice about the 3D effects in a game on the 3DS, I think these visual cues add a lot to any given title. While many games in the last year have really focused on adding eye-popping effects with the 3D slider turned all the way up, Yoshi's New Island practically ignores this aspect, and it's a little disappointing.

The soundtrack also shouldn't be overlooked. The music typically blends into the background of most levels as you hunt down all the hidden extras, but if you pay attention to these tunes, you're sure to appreciate them the more you listen to them.

Yoshi's New IslandBeyond a few quick little multiplayer games that can only be played locally using two systems and game cartridges, the campaign and all its hidden challenges are what will take up the majority of your time in Yoshi's New Island.

This game may not have many watercooler moments like you'll find in some other Nintendo platformers, but the more you play, the more it becomes obvious that this is a solid little title all the same. Becoming a pro at Yoshi's flutter jump and egg-tossing is fun in itself, and these mechanics alone prove to be far more compelling than the plain-Jane "run-jump-repeat" gameplay on display in more conventional side-scrolling Mario Bros. titles.

 

Yoshi's New Island
Format: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Arzest & Nintendo
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site: http://yoshisnewisland.nintendo.com/

Rating: 8 / 10

 
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