The only things getting twisted are my nerves.
It’s been a while since Yoshi has starred in his own platforming game. His new adventure, Yoshi Topsy-Turvy, features the storybook styling of his previous two platforming romps, and also includes the use of Nintendo’s new GBA rotational sensor, which made its debut in the excellent Wario Ware: Twisted! However, as the saying goes, what’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.
The basic tenants of Yoshi’s platforming past have not changed here. The game is split into several worlds (which are referred to as pages), each with an increasing number of levels. The levels have objectives, and in order to progress to the next page, you must reach the end of every level, and complete the objectives in about two-thirds of them. What makes Topsy-Turvy different from other platforming games is its use of the rotational sensor, which is used to tilt the entire playing area.
Bowser has invaded Yoshi’s island, and in order to quell the attacks, six magical spirits have trapped the entire island in a book. Yoshi is charged with the task of defeating Bowser and returning the island to normal. To help, the spirits have given him the ability to tilt the world around him. To do so, all the player needs to do is rotate their GBA (or DS) from side to side, similar to the manner in which a top spins. This tilting ability is used almost constantly to do a variety of things. It can turn walls into slopes that can be climbed, and it will shift all sorts of things, including wrecking balls, Ferris wheels, pirate ships, and sliding platforms.
For the most part, the platforming is fairly straightforward. That is, until you factor in the tilt sensor. It gives the game an almost puzzle-like aspect. Areas that are normally impassable in other platform games can be shifted in this game. At first, this new style of gameplay is genuinely fun, but as the game gets more complex, the limitations of the tilt sensor start to show. Later parts of the game become frustrating, and the game loses its charm.
With the world tilted, moving Yoshi becomes an arduous task, as gravity has shifted. Because of this, it is hard to judge exactly how Yoshi will react to the shifted environment. It’s not a problem on solid ground, as he stands still, but jumping and other mid-air maneuvers become quite challenging. You can never be certain how a maneuver will work with the game tilted.
The level objectives can also add to the frustration. The objectives vary and include the following: eating a certain number of apples, collecting a certain number of coins, killing (or not killing) a certain number of enemies, and completing levels in a limited amount of time. These objectives are also mixed together, and many levels contain two objectives. The objective added in the last page is not really an objective at all. In this page, most of the levels are auto-scrolling, with Yoshi being chased by a large black wall of shadow. Touching the wall will damage Yoshi, so he has to stay ahead of it.
For the most part, the objectives are fine, and are necessary to give the game any real challenge. The only bothersome ones are the time limit and auto-scrolling. Normally, there would be plenty of breathing room for mistakes in these levels. However, the tilt sensor complicates things. It needs to be factored into every decision, and adds an unwelcome sense of panic to the already hurried timed levels.
Yoshi Topsy-Turvy is a game that could have been so much more if developer Artoon had just spent more time working on it. Everything about the game feels like it needs just a little bit more polish, especially the tilt sensor. What could be a very innovative and fun mechanic to add to a platforming game ultimately falls short of its goal and only manages to hamper the gameplay.