Fans of Yoshi's Island are going to take to this sequel like a dinosaur to eggs.
I was a huge fan of Yoshi's Island back in the day, so when I heard its sequel was coming to Nintendo DS I was ecstatic. I'm pleased to report that if you like the first game, the second game will be right up your alley. It has a few new wrinkles, but overall it's more Yoshi's Island goodness (and that isn't a bad thing).
Yoshi's Island 2 is a classic 2-D platformer through and through. It plays exactly like the 1995 classic, so fans of the original will have no problem picking it up and jumping right into it. The B button jumps, and hitting B in the air causes your dinosaur to "hover". You pick up enemies with Yoshi's tongue using Y, and pressing A launches them back at other enemies. Alternatively, you can swallow enemies and turn them into an egg by pressing down on the D-Pad when you have one in your mouth. You can carry several eggs along with you, and pressing X brings up an aiming reticule that determines the trajectory of eggs as you toss them at enemies with A. The butt stomp also makes a triumphant return. The controls are familiar, simple, and effective.
The most prominent gameplay update is the fact that you no longer only carry Baby Mario on your back; you now have a choice between Baby Mario, Baby Donkey Kong, and Baby Princess Peach. Scattered throughout each level are "Stork Bus Stops" that you can stand in front of, causing a stork to fly down and give you the choice of which baby you'd like to carry. Each baby gives Yoshi a different ability. Mario allows Yoshi to sprint, Peach allows Yoshi to float using her umbrella, and Donkey Kong allows Yoshi to perform a dash attack. These different attacks are used to solve puzzles throughout the game. You collect stars, coins, and flowers in each level, and get bonuses depending on how many you collect. The goal is to get to the end of each level with all lives intact and your baby cargo on your back. If you get hit, your baby floats off in a bubble and its up to you to retrieve him/her in before a countdown timer expires.
Like the original, Yoshi's Island 2 features an art style that looks like a crayon storybook. There are outdoor levels, underground levels, and cave levels that feature deadly lava. Levels span both screens on the DS, much like Sonic Rush. One of the main differences from a graphical standpoint is that the DS' power allows for much larger enemies. In one area a huge spiked boulder rolled from the top screen down to the bottom screen, and had me running for my life. It was truly an "Oh S**t" moment that couldn't have happened on the SNES. Interestingly enough, the touch screen does not seem to be used at all. My only guess is that it may be used in mini-games in the finished product, but in the E3 build I couldn't find any use for it.
Fans of Yoshi's Island will love Yoshi's Island 2. It plays and looks exactly like the original with a few minor improvements, which automatically makes it a must-have for fans of old-school platformers.