What? Billy has never played Yoshi's Island before? See what a newbie thinks of Baby Mario crying all the time!
I’ve played and beaten almost every Mario title that’s come out, but for some reason one of the games I skipped over was Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. I have no idea how I missed this game, and yes, I deserve someone to smack me upside the head. Even though most wanted Super Mario Bros. 3 as the next Super Mario Advance game, I was rather excited that Nintendo was choosing Yoshi’s Island. Dying for some portable Miyamoto loving? Step right into Yoshi’s Island.
Ultimately, Yoshi’s Island gives you the backstory of how the Yoshis got mixed up with the Mario Bros. to begin with. A stork was carrying the baby Mario Bros. presumably to their parents when Kamek the evil Magikoopa tries to snatch the babies. Kamek only makes off with baby Luigi, and Baby Mario falls to the ground and ends up into the hands of the Yoshi family. It’s your job as the collective Yoshis to reunite the Mario brothers. To reach Luigi, you have to battle through many worlds of familiar and new baddies.
Miyamoto introduced a lot of new game elements with Yoshi’s Island, and they are what sets this game apart from the rest of the Mario titles. Baby Mario rides Yoshi, and if you get hit, Mario goes flying off, and you have limited time to get him back or else he gets kidnapped, and you lose a life. How long you can be without Mario is measured in stars, which you can gain through out the level to replenish or extend the time.
The Yoshis have many different moves now, including the trademark jump and hover, and butt-stomp. Yoshi can eat enemies and spit them out, or eat watermelons and spit seeds, fire, or even ice. By eating enemies, Yoshi can lay eggs that he can throw. Targeting is simple, hold down the R shoulder button to activate targeting and release to throw. L keeps the targeting in a locked position. There’s also a variant to targeting where you press R to get the target meter going, and press R again to shoot the egg. Accurate shooting is a very important element in Yoshi’s Island, and it does take time to perfect. Not only can you kill most enemies, but it’s also sometimes essential to get further in levels, or open up secrets. Yoshi can also transformed by certain blocks into a helicopter, submarine, mole tank, car, or train.
Baby Mario can also get superstars that make him Super Star Mario where you get to control Baby Mario solo for a bit. The makes baby Mario invincible for a limited time, and he can cling to walls. Usually it’s to open secrets. It’s a fun little derivation, but it happens rarely because the Yoshis are the true main characters.
The gameplay in Yoshi’s Island isn’t as linear as Super Mario World, even though you follow the 1-2, 1-3 type level advancement. The levels seem larger, and there are many branching paths and more areas to explore and mess around with. The level design is some of the best 2D platforming I’ve experienced in a long time, even though this title is rather old. It’s feels very similar to Wario World. For those that are getting their butt kicked for those last shines in Mario Sunshine, Yoshi’s island is a very nice change of pace. It’s not overly difficult, but it’s the type of game that’s involving as much as you want it to be. There seems to be all kinds of mini games littered though out the level, but they aren’t needed to finish. I do look for them because they are fun, and truly add to the overall gameplay experience. Only people wishing to get every last red coin or flower will try to finish each level 100%.
Graphically, Yoshi’s Island in an upgrade to the Super Mario World engine, and it utterly shines on the Game Boy Advance. The cartoony art style is extremely vivid and colorful. You can really see where Miyamoto took this type of art style and sunk it into Yoshi’s Story, and possibly even Paper Mario.
Yoshi’s Island sounds great and wearing headphones is highly recommended. The tunes are catchy and noteworthy. Baby Mario screams, and Yoshi has his own comments too, but it’s not overdone, like in Super Mario Advance 1 and 2 with all the repetitive yapping. I think it’s a much needed improvement.
After sinking a couple of hours in the game, I have to admit, this is the best out of the three Mario Advance titles. Since Super Mario World would probably rank up there as one of my Top 5 favorite Mario titles, it’s nice to finally go back and play its sequel, because I can already feel myself calling it another Miyamoto classic. Wario Land 4 just got passed up as my favorite portable platformer. If you blew off Yoshi’s Island back in its SNES days like I did, I recommend checking it out now on GBA.