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Month of Yoshi: Retro Review #2, Yoshi’s Island

Yoshi’s Island to best spend the month before Easter: this Sunday’s review takes us straight back to Yoshi’s Island

Welcome back to our March initiative: the mese di Yoshi brings us back to the second review (or rather, retrospective) in view of the Easter coming, that is Yoshi’s Island. Thinking about it, it’s really ironic: a game set during Mario’s childhood is one in which the character grew up, while we saw him being born (in a more metaphorical sense, but also not) in the predecessor. The game nomenclature isn’t particularly helpful. In fact, Super Mario World came into the world as Super Mario Bros. 4, while this title was conceived as Super Mario Bros. 5 before being renamed Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. Confused?

The passage (temporal and otherwise) a a Mario still in swaddling clothes was probably born from the desire of Miyamoto and his associates to put their previous reptile that laid the golden eggs in the limelight, instead relegating the plumbers to the rear. And as we mentioned in the last episode, it is by pure chance (but certainly not one to complain about) if we can talk about the game close to the Additional Paths Pass, which has just added the eponymous island to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Let’s go now to (re-)discover one of the brightest pastel-hued titles of the Grande N oeuvre… but was it like this from the beginning?

When Miyamoto slapped his inner thigh in front of Rare – Month of Yoshi: Yoshi’s Island retro review

Let’s clarify a concept: this review, which as a “retro” will also deal with the development of the game, showcases a side of Nintendo that we will hardly touch again during the month of Yoshi, or the internal rivalry of the Big N that shaped the (metaphorical) childhood of Yoshi’s Island. During the gestation of the game, another great Super Nintendo exponent was on the lips of all executives: Donkey Kong Country. As well as Shigeru Miyamoto he was so impressed! For him, it was all graphics and little gameplay. Or rather, so the “legend” has it.

The truth, as much as video game historians love to fictionalize it, it’s far less “thrilling” than that. Quite simply, the prototype of the game “lacked bite” in the eyes of the upper echelons of the Kyoto giant. So it was thus that the company asked Miyamoto to refer to the photorealism of Donkey Kong Country. That phase of development continues today in the cutscenes that, respectively, precede the tutorial and follow the final boss. However the story formed the foundation for the plot of Donkey Kong Land, semi-demake of Country for the Game Boy. In the game, Cranky Kong was convinced that Country’s success was all about graphics. And that was how King K. Rool went back to stealing all the bananas on inferior hardware. At Cranky’s invitation, no less!

Month of Yoshi: Retro Review #2, Yoshi's Island

Back to the Future Month of Yoshi: Retro Review Yoshi’s Island

In its simple narrative guise, the game had more “plot” than its predecessor could boast. We cannot define the prequel in question as one of the most elaborate plots by the Grande N, but the idea behind it is at least nice. Kamek, promoted from a simple specimen in the Magikoopa species (the members of Bowser’s army equipped with scepter and goggles), is now retroactively promoted to wet nurse of the sovereign. Specifically we allude to the simple “prince” Baby Bowserwhich in this title is still called King in the name of the last level.

The time paradox all depends on thedivine art by Kamek regarding the fate of Mario and Luigi as adults. Somehow, what has become a fixture for main series platformers in recent years predicted that the two brothers in the colorful caps would be source of disasters for all the Koopa people. Of course, the problem wouldn’t even arise if Bowser hadn’t grown up with the idea of ​​carrying out coups by kidnapping the sovereigns of neighboring kingdoms, but in this chicken-and-egg situation Kamek is convinced he can prevent everything kidnapping the little ones while the stork has to bring them to their parents. And with Baby Luigi it’s fine too. However, the brother in red crashes on the island where the Yoshis decide to look after him and reunite him with the other.

Month of Yoshi: Retro Review #2, Yoshi's Island

A Tough Babysitter – Month of Yoshi: Retro Review Yoshi’s Island

The idea of ​​gameplay, according to Miyamoto, is simple. If it’s not a “real” Mario, what’s the point of imposing the same limitations on Yoshi? Before even talking about the moveset of the most endearing dinosaur in the world, this premise is de rigueur. The protagonist, given his impact resistance in the predecessor (touching an enemy makes him flee in tears, but never die), he can take any kind of blow, excluding instant death from particularly sharp chasms or thorns. On the other hand, being hit still causes someone to flee in tears. It’s a matter of Baby Mario himselfwhich in a warning to players about to become parents will start giving air to the vocal cords.

In this phase of continuous cries, the baby will float in a bubble for ten seconds, at the end of which a clique of “minor” Magikoopas (whom the game calls Minions) will kidnap the unborn child, depriving the player of a life. The precious seconds are reset to 10 once the baby is recovered, but it is possible to expand the timer with twenty extra seconds that can be scraped together with the various Stars around the levels. The checkpoints help to get a boost of ten stars at a time: the total of 30, combined with the 20 red coins and the five flowers of 10 points each scattered throughout the various levels, provide a round completion percentage. There’s something to drive the completionists crazy!

Month of Yoshi: Retro Review #2, Yoshi's Island

Voracity and eggs even before Easter – Month of Yoshi: retro-review Yoshi’s Island

Yoshi’s retractable sticky tongue again plays a central role, while giving the protagonist many options in terms of self defence. Aside from the newborn (unintended pun) ability to “lick” upwards, it is now possible to digest enemies held in the mouth by ducking down like Kirby does. Unlike the latter, however, instead of transforming (not that this doesn’t happen in this game too) the lizard will lay one egg to be driven, out of a maximum of six. Eggs are excellent projectiles with which to keep enemies at arm’s length, as well as demolish any crumbly obstacles.

For what concern aircraft movement, Super Mario World nostalgics can happily rejoice: glide exists, and in the right hands it can be abused. Pressing the jump button once in the air allows Yoshi to flutter around a bit more, and ducking before landing allows him to dive into a massive belly-punch. To this, then, is added the simple option of regurgitating the enemies just ingested as a frontal attack or, if deemed appropriate, to use the watermelons to spit seeds like a machine gun. Sometimes you can even find red and blue watermelons, with which to spit fire and ice respectively!

Month of Yoshi: Retro Review #2, Yoshi's Island

“Are you sure he’s not like Kirby?” – Month of Yoshi: Retro Review Yoshi’s Island

Leaving aside the levels more aimed at the heart of the nostalgic (such as the opening ones for worlds 2 and 4), the enemies they are largely original. Sure, Shy Guys are back as basic opponents from Super Mario Bros. 2 (conceived in Japan as the unrelated Doki Doki Panic, ed). On the other hand, here we also find the Pinguobalzi in the frozen levels, the indestructible Piombospini, the sentient sea wave Pos’Adone (which also appears in the sea in the already mentioned track Isola Yoshi) and others. Some of these creatures were then “transplanted” into the Marian macrocosm, but not all. There are still many more related exclusively to the dinosaur.

The same can also be said of the power-ups, which in this case consist of transformations far more drastic than what the mustache has given us the opportunity to see over the years. The bubbles that can happen to run into, except for useless expedients (such as the transformation into a train), make up for the gameplay limits in such a way as to give the level design molta creative freedom. Suddenly Yoshi can fly over a landless area by becoming a helicopter, dive in a submarine where his swimming skills are limited to the surface, and so much more. Mario’s canons peep out, but rarely. And never in an intrusive way.

Month of Yoshi: Retro Review #2, Yoshi's Island

On the contrary, we teach Mario directly – Yoshi’s Month: retro-review Yoshi’s Island

And by that we don’t mean literally: Mario’s life between preschool and the events of the first Donkey Kong will remain a mystery to posterity. However, we were talking about Mario’s canons, and if there is an element of them that comes back here too, it is precisely the castelli. Each world typically features two bosses: one in charge of a mid-world fortress and another in charge of guarding the “key” to access the next. In a similar way to what was seen in New Super Mario Bros. U, then, each stronghold adheres to a specific theme, whether it is the enemies who will oppose us or just a rudiment of gameplay in particular.

On the other hand, there is one constant behind every boss and it is none other than Kamek himself. In a similar way to what is seen in the Japanese superhero TV series (the so-called tokusatsu, who always act in groups), there is always a magician’s hand. All the boss they are common enemies, that the Magikoopa has the good idea to magnify to give Yoshi bread for… well, for his tongue. That’s right: the intervention in Kamek before the bosses, which have become a standard from New Super Mario Bros. Wii onwards, were born with this game. And that also includes Bowser’s vice during the final battles…

Month of Yoshi: Retro Review #2, Yoshi's Island

A milestone

There are so many other reasons to love Yoshi’s Island, from the soundtrack to the extra levels to unlock. The question is, what’s the best way to play this masterpiece nowadays? If you’re a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber, you can play the original Super Mario World 2 with the app that brings together Super Nintendo titles. However, if you are willing to bring the shot a little closer to the protagonist (as you can see in the screenshots), we will gladly direct you towards the remake Super Mario Advance 3. For several reasons, we hope that sooner or later it will also arrive in the catalog of Game Boy Advance titles for subscribers to the same service.

In addition to the presence of six levels created from scratch for the new version (to complement the mini-games, which completionists can unlock for quick access to a sea of ​​extra lives from the map), this incarnation of the great classic was the starting point of a long tradition of localizations in Italian for the plumber. For some, the real swansong for the Super Nintendo was Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble, with the complicity of Peach’s Castle theme from the Wrinkly Kong television speaker. Maybe. For us, however, it was the genesis of two great heroes to convince many to stick with Nintendo despite the first PlayStation on the horizon.

  • Easter…