New ideas become missed opportunities.
Review written by
March 20th, 2014
Nintendo's new outing on Egg Island appeals to the sensibilities of both the casual and hardcore gamer, and it manages to strike an even balance between the two. The new 'Flutter wings' allow a player to fly over the platforming elements of a level if it proves too difficult, and if that is still too hard, a player may upgrade to a golden pair which negates damage. The veteran gamer, however, should have minimal difficulty making it through the majority of Yoshi's New Island simply running from start-to-finish on each level, though the difficulty spikes slightly in the last world compared to what came before - a small concession for the relative ease in which players may breeze through the game. However, the real challenge for both beginner and veteran alike comes from exploring the levels at hand to obtain all of the collectibles. It's in this venture that the real game shows itself, and it could be said that the game hasn't truly been experienced if players haven't slowed down and taken their time through each of the levels to achieve all objectives, which includes sustaining minimal damage or finding all the hidden collectibles.
Enemies start out as fairly simple affairs, walking back and forth for whichever-colored Yoshi is currently carrying baby Mario to grab it and turn it into an egg. Later levels see fish-hook bearing enemies on clouds actively trying to steal baby Mario off the Yoshi's back, bomb drops from balloons, or enemies with spikes that cannot be destroyed or swallowed. Bosses themselves are fairly simple in general, abiding to the traditional 3-hit rule, and since the boss' movement patterns do not change, winning becomes simple if the player is paying attention. The main challenges will likely be from the environmental obstacles. Beyond the typical swinging chain balls or lava spurts, there are rotating-block sections, beanstalks to climb, or descending walls that will crush the player, not to mention small stretches where a fall off a ledge is a swift death.
Of course, enemies may be swallowed to create eggs, and new to this game are the 'eggdozers,' giant eggs attained by swallowing giant enemies which are simply drones shot up from a larger-than usual pipe, not enemies that really require skill to swallow. There are green eggdozers which act as regular eggs would, and there are metal eggdozers which are necessarily heavier and can be used to strategically maneuver through underwater sections. The eggdozers are interesting additions but don't really add too much to the gameplay as they are somewhat infrequent.
The eggs produced from swallowing enemies come in four colors, and depending on which one is thrown at an enemy a different item will be dropped. If a player does not want to throw the egg at the front of their line-up, the throw can be canceled and the egg will travel to the end of the line. Players can tow around six eggs at a time.
Shooting green eggs at an enemy will see one golden coin dropped, whereas yellow eggs will see three golden coins dropped. These coins translate into new lives, or '1Ups,' if 100 of them have been collected. Players can have over 100 lives stockpiled, with 1Ups attained through not only collecting coins but by collecting red 1Up symbols scattered through levels.
Red eggs bring forth two of the walking stars which serve as added seconds to the timer that ticks down whenever baby Mario is struck from the Yoshi's back. Players start each level with ten of these stars, with more earned through striking floating question-mark clouds or reaching checkpoint rings. Every time the player is hit, stars are lost. If the star count reaches below ten, it will recharge until it is back at the default number - assuming baby Mario has been reclaimed. Whenever the player is hit, baby Mario flies off the Yoshi's back and floats in a bubble, crying incessantly until he is safe again. If the player cannot reclaim baby Mario, a group of baby Bowser's minions fly in on their broomsticks and steal him away, resulting in a level restart. The premise of Yoshi's New Island is that the baby bros. were delivered to the wrong parents by their courier stork, and in the stork's attempt to redeliver the bros. they were attacked by Kamek, baby Bowser's henchman, resulting in baby Luigi and the stork getting taken to Bowser's Castle and baby Mario falling down to Egg Island.
Players are rewarded for making it through a level with a star count of 30/30, as well as for earning 20/20 of the special red coins. Purple eggs will cause enemies to drop these coins, but it is an egg that barely makes an appearance and is highly underutilized.
There are also 5 flowers scattered throughout each level which are necessary in order to gain medals to unlock the special vehicle challenges in each world. Medals are earned through a chance lottery at the end of a level, and the number of medals earned corresponds with the number of flowers collected.
Players can check a level's completion rate on the 3DS' lower screen while playing through the level on the top-screen. The world map functions in the same way, with levels lined up on the lower screen with indicators as to their level of completion.
Another specific use of the 3DS' features is the gyroscope, which is used in the vehicle challenges. Outside of those that can be unlocked after each world as already mentioned, there are also mini vehicle challenges spread throughout various levels. In these vehicle challenges, there are six different forms a Yoshi can take, three of which are a mine cart, hot air balloon, or a bobsled. Controls for all of these are the same, with the player needing to tilt the 3DS in order to move and pressing any button to jump, brake, or perform some other action depending on which vehicle shape the Yoshi has assumed. These challenges are simple and function well with the gyroscope, but it can be argued that there is no real reason a player shouldn't have been able to just hit the directional arrows to do the same thing.
The levels in Yoshi's New Island are fairly standard, hampered by the easy difficulty. Be sure to check every green tube, as they can be traveled through, and some areas that may seem like solid rock-faces can be entered for hidden items. If there is one mechanic that the levels did not seem to take advantage of at all, it was in the use of Yoshi stars. Yellow Yoshi stars allow the player to speed along walls ala Sonic, whereas red Yoshi stars allow the player to shoot through tubing and bricks at an equally high speed. These stars were introduced near the beginning of the game but did not make much of an appearance again until near the end, and even then only briefly. For a new element added to the game and advertised on the packaging, these stars should have been far more prominent and could have led to some very interesting level design options.
Graphically, Yoshi's New Island is a beautiful game to look at on the 3DS with its cartoony colored-pencil inspired backdrops and pastel environments. Outside of some rough pixelated edges, character models are fairly clean and environments are carefully detailed.
The music is as light and cheerful as the art design. Each world has its own variation of the same theme, broken up by other tunes depending on the environment, but the music is appealing enough to the ears that it doesn't really get bothersome. It's an easy-going soundtrack to an easy-going game, which works well for those who want to pick-up-and-play as much as for those who are prepared to sit down for long stretches of time.
On the whole, Yoshi's New Island is an entertaining platforming addition to the 3DS' library. While there is a story attached to the game, it is non-intrusive and functions well within the in-game mechanics. If anything about the minimalist story can be complained about, there is one rather nonsensical event close to endgame that seems out-of-place, but as it stands doesn't really detract from the experience except leading to some repetitive gameplay.
As far as extra content, outside of the vehicle challenges there are 2-player mini-games that are unlocked as each world is completed. Each player is required to have a copy of Yoshi's New Island in order to play the mini-games. The main re-playability factor for this game comes through mastering each level to achieve 100% completion. The main game can be finished in around 6-7 hours, with more tacked on if one seeks 100% completion in everything.
An inoffensive platforming romp suitable for gamers of all skill-levels. Combined with a pleasing soundtrack and easy visuals, the levels provide depth if one takes the time to thoroughly scour them for collectibles. Yet, on the whole, Yoshi's New Island suffers from too easy of a difficulty level and the lack of full implementation of new gameplay ideas.
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