Yoshi’s New Island Review for Nintendo 3DS

Yoshi’s New Island Review for Nintendo 3DS

What’s New Is Old

2013 may have been the Year of Luigi, but now that the green dudded plumber has had his time in the spotlight, Nintendo can stretch their cast of icons again. Who better to bring back than the most loveable dinosaur in video games? Yoshi’s New Island is the third entry to the series (we don’t include Yoshi’s Story ). Yoshi’s Island DS was the most recent entry, which fit well and fared well on Nintendo’s previous handheld juggernaut, the DS. But that was back in 2006, and many of us were curious when the next entry to the series would emerge. Well it’s here at last, and as cute as ever, but decidedly caught in a format that will appeal to younger and greener gamers than those looking for a challenge.

The story stays true to its predecessors, with Kamek once again stealing baby Luigi from a stork on a journey to deliver the two baby brothers to the doorstep of their rightful owners. Baby Mario is spared from capture and falls out of the sky, landing in the middle of a group of Yoshi’s discussing how they will relieve their island now under the clutches of baby Bowser. So with the diaper donned Mario in tow, the cavalcade of colored Yoshi’s embark on a journey to both reclaim their land and reunite the brothers with their parents.

Yoshi’s New Island is as charming as you’d expect, with clouds and distant hills all sporting smiles, swaying and bopping to the tunes that play with the innocence of a toddler at the keyboard. Pastel colors prevail, and the crayon/water-painted art style will whisk you right back to the nostalgic days playing with Yoshi. Most of the levels are laden with nature’s florae, with the mid and end boss stages set within Bowser’s fortifications. Among the six worlds, you’ll find a few variations such as snow-capped boards and the odd lava stream, but much of the environment is recycled throughout, not giving a clear distinction between them.

Yoshi's New Island Screenshot

Yoshi has plenty of inbred tools to help him tackle the journey. His boots are made for bopping, but also provide the useful flutter kick to reach platforms and avoid pits. Then of course he has that patented tongue that can gobble up almost any enemy in his way. He can then spit the enemy back out, or send it on a journey through his bowels, emerging as one of up to six eggs in tow. The eggs can then be launched to either knock out other enemies or collect coins and the five Smiley Flowers hidden in each level.

You have a few control options at your disposal with regards to tossing eggs. The default is an arrow guide that follows an arc around Yoshi’s front side. The alternative (and better) method is to switch on the gyro controls option, where slight tilts change the direction the egg will be launched. This is by far the quicker style that gives more control to the player. The downside however, is that it doesn’t pair well with the system’s 3D effect, though there isn’t much worth straining your eyes to stay in the “sweet spot”, so I would definitely recommend the gyro controls over the 3D.

Yoshi's New Island Screenshot

My other control recommendation is to use the control pad for Yoshi’s movement. Though you’ve probably adapted your thumb to the Circle Pad, it is very sensitive, and you’ll find yourself inadvertently ground pounding into a pit more times than you’d like.

With the proper controls set, you’re ready to roll, but don’t expect too much to slow you down. The overall challenge is rather remedial. Most boards can be breezed through in about a minute, with only the odd castle level requiring you to backtrack and collect keys. It’s not until World 5 when you when lose a few Yoshi’s to a tricky spot, and even those are few and far between. After three failed attempts, Yoshi can strap on some flutter wings and simply fly past all the obstacles, taking away the challenge almost completely (though you don’t get full credit for clearing the board). Yet your conscience may be glad at the ease of gameplay, as hearing Mario cry when knocked off of Yoshi’s back is heartbreaking, and even more disturbing should Yoshi fail to scoop him up before the timer runs out, where Mario is whisked away by Kamek’s minions to horrors unknown.

The six worlds can be cleared in just a few hours, but you’ll find the real contest lies in returning to each board to nab all the collectibles. Apart from the five Smiley Flowers, there are twenty red coins to nab, as well as thirty stars. It’s a trickier process than simply finding tucked away areas. Red coins are usually disguised as regular coins, some of the collectible are hidden in invisible Winged Clouds that only reveal themselves when you walk or jump over the area, and the stars act as the timer for capturing Mario. Thus, you’ll need a nearly flawless run to build your star count to max. Snatching everything in each world unlocks secret stages, and collecting thirty golden egg medals via a roulette wheel at the stage’s finish line unlocks a special vehicle board.

Yoshi's New Island Screenshot

The Yoshi transforming vehicles, as well as the giant Eggdozers are touted features of this new entry, but I’ve found them to be more of an afterthought than anything. The vehicle sections are all self-contained areas that have no practical use besides collecting a few red coins and Smiley Flowers. From the Yoshi hot-air balloon, submarine, helicopter, mine cart, and a couple of others, they all use the tilt controls in much the same way, and the gameplay is quite shallow. The Eggdozers are giant eggs that can be launched for massive devastation, but again are in predetermined areas. Mixed with the fact that both these features appear only a handful of times, I would have preferred to see them ditched and replaced with multiple baby characters as in Yoshi’s Island DS , rather than simply having Mario sit there the entire time with a dumbfounded look on his face.

Multiplayer consists of a selection of six minigames, unlocked as you complete worlds but played completely separate from the Story Mode. In all of them you basically have one minute to gobble up baddies, throw eggs or flutter kick to rack up points. None of them are engaging in the least, and they require two players locally, so forget trying to top your high score alone.

I was more than a little disappointed in the lack of challenge and overall content in Yoshi’s New Island . The features that are included lack cohesion, and the bare bones multiplayer is laughable. Nintendo could argue that the design of the series is meant for a younger audience, yet I was twenty-seven when I played Yoshi’s Island DS and thoroughly enjoyed it. Yoshi has had some grand adventures of his own, but sadly this is not one of them.

The pastels colors and cute animations are as charming as ever, but the textures don’t showcase the system’s graphical strength. The 3D effect is also misused. 3.0 Control
You are forced to go old-school with the control pad thanks to touchy ground pounds with the Circle Pad. Gyro aiming is better than the classic style. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Most of the tracks are as charming as the graphics, but the off-key melodies are more than a little grating on the ears. 2.5 Play Value
Aside from the challenge of nabbing the collectibles, the campaign is too short, and the multiplayer is practically non-existent. 3.1 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • The little Mario Bros. are in big trouble. Help Yoshi save the day – with help from cool power-ups, giant Eggdozers, and crazy transformations.
  • This is the fantastical home of Yoshi and all of his colorful friends. The island is packed with secret areas, collectibles, puzzles, and of course, lots of enemies.
  • Gobble up bad guys, toss egg missiles, outwit puzzles, and uncover secrets – all while carrying a baby through treacherous terrain… Yep, this sounds like a job for Yoshi.

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