Yoshi’s Island DS Review / Preview for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Yoshi’s Island DS Review / Preview for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

With Nintendo’s platforming rep, you know this game is going to be good before you even open it.

I wasn’t prepared for just how good Yoshi’s Island DS is. We can all agree that the original Yoshi’s Island platformer was tremendous. Just when you think that Nintendo has done all it can with the Mario-platform franchise, they come up with something bigger and better. Such is the case with Yoshi’s Island DS. It’s improved in every way but still retains all of the elements that made the original an instant classic.


There are two major changes to the gameplay, but they might be better called enhancements. Firstly, the levels are at least twice the size of the original levels. They are filled with enemies, traps, pitfalls, collectibles and secret areas – some familiar and some new. Secondly, you can now swap among five different Nintendo baby characters that will give Yoshi different abilities which he will need to defeat specific enemies, get through certain level segments, collect various items and access secret areas. Having access to these different babies, and different sets of skills, adds a lot more dimension to the gameplay in terms of strategy not to mention replay value. You can go back through the various levels using different babies to access different areas where you may find more items to collect, in addition to giving you a different gameplay experience when dealing with enemies and booby traps.

You begin the game with baby Mario and Luigi eventually unlocking baby Peach, baby Donkey Kong, baby Wario and baby Bowser. As in the original story, the evil Wizard, Kamek, has kidnapped all of the babies on the island. Rescued by a stork, babies Mario and Luigi are brought back to the village where Yoshi decides to take the babies on his back and storm the floating evil island that houses the wizard’s castle in an attempt to rescue all of the babies. You’ll acquire a new playable baby at the end of completed levels. You can switch among your baby collection and change your powers whenever you want.


Like most platformers you have the ability to run and jump, and if you jump on the enemy’s head you’ll neutralize them. Yoshi’s unique ability allows him to use his tongue to reach collectible items that may be out of reach. But he can also grab an enemy with his tongue and swallow them, only to spit them out later to use as a projectile against another enemy or to throw at a distant switch. Power-ups in the game will transform Yoshi into different vehicles that allow him to travel over land, air and sea. For example he can turn into a helicopter, submarine or an underground drill. The babies give his a different set of abilities. Baby Mario can make all of the M blocks disappear, while the baby princess can use her umbrella to catch some air and float in the wind. Baby Wario can use his magnet to attract metallic coins and other metal objects while baby Donkey Kong can climb and swing on vines. Finally, baby Bowser can breath fire to scare off enemies as well as heat up ice blocks to access new areas. If Yoshi takes a hit the baby will be knocked off his back but will float safely in the air for a limited time allowing you to recapture it. Failure to do so will result in a loss of one life.

The basic gameplay is not difficult. You’ll usually have enough time to recapture floating babies and in general the enemies and traps are not very aggressive. For the most part if you lose a life it’s usually due to you missing a ledge. The real challenge is trying to unlock and collect everything in all of the levels. There are stars, coins and flowers to collect but some of them are only available for a limited time and will disappear if you don’t get to them quickly. Other collectibles are hidden in the levels and require a lot of exploring to find. Not only will you have to search every nook and cranny but you’ll wind up using the special skills of the babies to open up hidden and previously inaccessible areas. There may not be a multi-player component to this game but the replay value on just collecting is enormous, especially if you want to unlock all of the surprises including the extended ending. Other unlockables include a variety of mini-games that you can access at any time as well as a museum of all of the enemies that you’ve encountered along the way.


Considering that the title of the game is Yoshi DS, there is very little use of the DS’s exclusive control system. You won’t use the touch screen and the dual screen will show an extended view of the environment but both screens are not always playable. When they are it really expands the environment in a way that no side-scroller can since it does so vertically. During some boss battles one of the screens will act as a mirror in which the ghost boss will appear while you are unable to see him on your screen. Fortunately the controls are excellent and there’s really no need for the touch screen. It would probably be nothing more than a novelty in any case.

Graphically the game has been improved to show off the powers of the DS. There’s no danger of the game being rendered in 3D but for a side-scroller, the levels are huge, filled with an interesting cast of characters and imaginative level designs that guarantees you won’t be treading over the same old ground. Sure you’ve seen a lot of this before but it’s put together different with a blend of new and unique elements. The animation is incredibly smooth, the colors are vibrant and the music is filled with goofy sounds and catchy cartoon melodies. There is no doubt that Yoshi DS is aimed at a younger demographic with all the overly precious baby stuff but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that this is an excellent example of a platforming franchise that has virtually attained perfection. I know I’ve said it before but I can’t imagine where Nintendo can go after this – but it will be interesting to see.



  • Return to the colorful wilds of Yoshi’s Island in a new platforming adventure for Nintendo DS
  • Saddle up for adventure. This time, Baby Mario, Baby Donkey Kong and Baby Peach are along for the ride – and each one gives Yoshi access to unique powers while they cling to his back.
  • Thanks to the power of Nintendo DS all of the lush vistas and perilous paths of Yoshi’s Island span two screens.

    Rating out of 5 Rating Description


    Improved graphics. Clean, clear, colorful and cartoonish.


    Even though this game under-utilizes the DS’s exclusive touch control system, the controls are virtually perfect.


    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Great sound effects and quirky soundtrack let you know you’re in Mario’s world.


    Play Value
    Despite no multi-player component you can play this game for weeks trying out different baby combos and searching for collectibles.


    Overall Rating Must Buy
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Preview

    May 16, 2006 – The announcement that Yoshi is returning to the DS managed to generate a heartfelt and unprompted round of applause in the Kodak Theater where Nintendo held it’s pre-E3 press conference. I guess they like the first one.

    Yoshi is about as close as you can get to a Mario game without the inclusion of the world’s most famous plumber. Yoshi inhabits a colorful, cartoonish world not at all unlike the Mushroom Kingdom in Super Mario Bros. In this 2D, old-school platformer you’ll run into classic platform elements such as springboards, power-ups, elevating and collapsing platforms and coin collecting. You’ll also run into some old enemies and play with some new characters.

    Yoshi inhabits a island paradise where all the inhabitants live a happy and peaceful existence. One day a huge shadow is cast over the island as another massive island floats overhead. Suddenly kids go missing from the island school. With the aid of some friends, Yoshi sets out to rescue the missing children and solve the mystery of the floating island.

    Yoshi’s friends are a bunch of babies: Baby Donkey Kong; Baby Mario, and Baby Peach. As they ride atop Yoshi, each baby character has unique characteristics that are to be used for specific situations – as long as they continue to ride atop Yoshi and don’t get knocked off by the various enemies.

    The worlds are every bit as good looking as those in the original Super Mario Bros. game. Thanks to the DS screen, they are now deeper, in the vertical sense, as both screens are used to display the environments. Yoshi will have more challenges thrown at him as a new dimension is added to the gameplay.

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