Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
is an SNES
game by Nintendo
greats Shigeru Miyamoto
and Takeshi Tezuka
. Released in 1995
, towards the end of the Super Nintendo's
life-span, it's a cute and fun
game, so well designed that it might as well be a textbook
on how to properly make a game.
Yoshi's Island seems aimed at children, although the gameplay seems it would delight anyone. The graphics go heavy on the pastels, the music is perky, and the enemies cute. The plot of the game is that Kamek, an evil koopa sorceror (hey, I don't make this stuff up, okay?) and caretaker to a young Bowser, has seen trouble on the horizon, and tries to kidnap baby Mario and baby Luigi. He only manages to grab Luigi, in the process losing Mario on the island of the Yoshis. So, baby Mario, riding his mini-dinosaur friends, must go on a quest to get his twin brother back.
It's a little too cute, but at the same time, the use of childishness as a theme is so consistently interwoven into the game that it makes the game more purposeful and appealing.
It is difficult to describe the graphics of the game, but they are quite pleasing to the eye, and there are no parts that seem out of place in the slightest.
The mechanics of play are diffent from the rest of the previous Mario games. Yoshi run and jump on monsters, but he can also flick out his tongue and eat them. Eaten monsters can either be spit out, or turned into eggs which Yoshi can throw. If Yoshi runs into a monster, he doesn't die. Instead, baby Mario is thrown off his back and floats around the screen in a bubble. Yoshi must run into the bubble to get Mario back. While baby Mario is airborne, a timer counts down. If the timer reaches zero, Kamek's minions swoop down and carry him off. Once Mario is back on Yoshi, the timer slowly increases back to ten.
The game is divided into six worlds of eight levels apiece. Every fourth level is a castle level, at the end of which there is a miniboss. These minibosses are possibly the best of any side-scroller.* They are all unique and involve some creative method for disposing of them. After a level is completed, the player is taken to a screen where she may play the next level in the sequence, or play any level previously completed.
Why play levels over again? On each level, there are three things to be collected: stars, red coins, and flowers. Stars increase Mario's life counter. Red coins are hidden inside regular coins, and are just there to give you something to hunt for. There are five flowers on every level. At the end of the level, you have a n/5 chance of playing a bonus game for prizes, where n is the number of flowers you collected.
After each level, it tallies up your score: one point for each red coin you found, five points for each flower, and your life meter is added on for a total of a hundred points. So, even after getting through a level, you still have the added challenge of trying to get all the coins and flowers possible. If you get 100% on all the levels in a world, it opens up an extra level, as well as opening up a bonus game for you to play whenever you want.
This might seem lame, but the levels are so well done that it's not at all boring or aggravating to play them several times through. Many factors have come together to make Yoshi's Island an exemplary platform game. Yoshi's abilities are varied and well used. The hit-system is unique and does not unduly punish the player. The graphics and sounds are all well done and tied together thematically. All in all, a thoroughly satisfying play experience.
* Mega Man 4
was pretty sweet in that regard too, but it was just so damned difficult