The closest thing to a true to sequel to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is still rather far from what the gamers of the world were expecting. While Yoshi Touch & Go still keeps the fundamental ideas of Yoshi’s Island, like the Yoshis trying desperately to get Baby Mario back to the stork while Kamek and his toadies constantly try to kidnap the kid, the gameplay has taken a huge turn in a different direction. True, you meander along as Yoshi and huck eggs at stuff, but that’s just the half of it. And maybe even less.
Yoshi’s first game on the DS is the next in the string of games that utilize only the handheld’s touch screen (Feel the Magic XY/XX, WarioWare: Touched!, Pokémon Dash) and microphone for input. And the way the game is designed, it’s all you’ll really need. But I guess that was kind of obvious. Even if you could use buttons for the game, you’d probably just ignore them. I’ll tell you now, that unless you’re old-school , you’ll probably think this game is stupid and give up on it right away. It’s a very different spin on platforming, so it’s certainly not going to appeal to everyone.
As soon as you boot up the game, you’ll notice that something is amiss. No intro scene, and just a selection of modes to play, including Score Attack, Endless, and Vs. modes. What? No story mode? You’ll be surprised to find out (I know I was) that the game isn’t structured like a game of these days. No, you have to start from the beginning each time, and your only goal is to get high scores. There are no levels, no bosses, no story, no end. It’s just the kind of game you pick up and go at for a while. Keep in mind that this helps replay value immensely, as you’re always going to be going back to best your high scores, like in most puzzle games. So if regular gaming conventions are thrown out the window, how does the game work? Let me explain.
The game is cut up into two parts. Firstly, you have Baby Mario falling from the sky. He’s got some balloons to give him some slack, so it’s not like he’s gonna go splat or anything. So anywho, you’re using the touch screen to make a cloudy path to guide the baby through the sky and out of the way of enemies, collecting as many coins as you can. You can draw circles around enemies to encase them in bubbles and turn them into coins to throw at Baby Mario. You can bubble normal coins too, but that’s kind of a waste of time unless you can circle a bunch at once to make a combo. You’ve really gotta be on your game to do well in this part of the game, because there’s a lot going on, and unless you forgo bubbling enemies, it can be tricky to guide Mario exactly where you want him to go. and it’s important to score big in this part, because your score at the end will determine which colour Yoshi you get when you reach the ground. Different coloured Yoshis move faster and can carry more eggs, so it helps to get a good score here.
The next part of the game is where Yoshi comes into the picture. You’re now on the ground, and Yoshi is plodding along on his way to the stork. It’s your job to help him get there. Everything is basically the same as in the sky, as you can draw clouds and make bubbles around stuff. But here you can also make Yoshi jump and flutter by poking him, and have him throw eggs by tapping elsewhere on the screen. Oh, and I should have mentioned earlier that you can blow into the microphone to have a gust of wind blow away all your clouds, should you ever need to remove them. This part of the game requires even more concentration than before, as Yoshi can only take one hit as opposed to Baby Mario’s three, and you’ve got enemies on both screens and pits to avoid. That, and you’ll have to take care to keep a supply of eggs stocked at all times, because a lot of enemies are impervious to bubblification here. This area also changes depending on which game mode you’re playing.
Score Attack is the most basic mode, and also the easiest. It’s basically what I described above, but your game will end after you’ve walked 1000 meters with Yoshi. Your goal here is simply to pick up as many coins and take out as many enemies as possible. Make it our with the top score, and you’ll unlock Time Attack. Endless mode however, changes it up a bit. The falling part is the same, but the Yoshi stage will go on until you’re taken down. Rather than the end, when you reach 1000 meters, you’ll get to switch off to the next-ranked Yoshi, and then again for each 1000 meters you last. Besting the top score in this mode will net you challenge mode. Oh, and getting 100 points in Endless will make a Power Star drop, turning Baby Mario into Super Baby Mario for a while, who will run right through anything and toss an infinite amount of stars (as opposed to Yoshi’s eggs).
I haven’t really played much of the other two modes, so I’m not sure exactly how they go down, but I hear Time Attack has you racing to save Baby Luigi, and Challenge mode is a desperate attempt to stay two steps ahead of Kamek. Word on the street is that beating the top scores in all four modes will unlock some kind of bonus mini-game. The trial is certainly not an easy one, as it took me a while to simply unlock Time Attack and Challenge, and I doubt those two will be any easier.
From a graphical standpoint, the game has few rivals. The graphics are very similar to those of Yoshi’s Island, with the picture book style and pastel backgrounds. Animation is smooth and abundant. The music is excellent, particularly through headphones, and mostly remixes tunes from games of Yoshi’s past. Sounds are what you’d expect, with the standard “baby” Yoshi noises originating from Yoshi’s Story, and plus ten points for the removal of Baby Mario’s horribly annoying cries. Controls are, well, up to you. If you can’t figure out how to drag the stylus along the touch screen, you should probably be developing some motor skills rather than playing Nintendo.
Let’s see… Other things… Ooh, one cool thing is that you can pick avatars for your high scores, so that in case more than one person plays on the same game card, you know who got what score. I haven’t tried multiplayer, but it’s supposed to be a 1000 meter dash between two players. And there’s a built in Picto-chat detector too, but I think that it might sap the batteries a little faster when it’s enabled. Neat idea though.
Personally, I find the game to be a refreshing change from the usual level-hopping action of standard platformers, but as I said earlier, not everyone’s gonna like this. People who held Yoshi’s Island in high regard and are not open to change will most likely detest this game. Hell, people who don’t like different things in general probably won’t like it. But than again, those people probably won’t be playing the DS anyway. The ones who will like it however, are probably the old-schoolers. Those who grew up in the age of arcades and high scores. And of course, people like me who will enjoy pretty much anything you present them with. I’d give this game an unwavering A+. While it’s not really what most gamers look for these days, there isn’t anything wrong with it. It’s fun, it lasts, it plays well, and the superficial stuff is all good.
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