Yoshi’s New Island Review
If Jurassic Park taught us anything, it’s that a rampaging dinosaur loves nothing more than to babysit human children.
Case in point, the Yoshi’s Island series, a Mario line spinoff starring the bright green and benevolent reptile. Sadly extinct for the last 7-and-a-half years, this tongue-lashing franchise is now on the verge of a major return, courtesy of the imaginatively titled Yoshi’s New Island.
Kicking off as only a Nintendo-approved narrative can, Yoshi’s latest epic involves a ‘silly stalk’, a misplaced baby and an evil, child-snatching koopa.
Of course, all you’ll really need to know is that baby Mario requires a ride, and the Yoshi clan are happy to oblige.
Taking Mario For A Walk
Assuming the role of one Yoshi per level, players work to transport the crying tyke across 48 dangerous stages.
Early regions are pure platforming 101 with much running, jumping and mid-air butt stomping to be done. Fortunately, the game soon opens up to allow players the use of the franchise’ calling card: multicoloured, weaponised eggs.
Like an evil Easter Bunny, Yoshi and chums are able to consume and somehow convert their prey into fresh spotted eggs.
These eggs can then be levelled at a whole host of targets, including enemies, collectibles and hard-to-reach switches. As central mechanics go, it’s a fun, oftentimes rewarding system, particularly for those players willing to ignore the game’s ‘easy aim’ reticle lock feature.
Still, the schema seems like a bit of an odd choice, given the availability of a touchscreen – which does little more than display collectible info throughout.
Aside from these egg-tossing shenanigans, Yoshi’s New Island features many other inventive elements.
Certain platforms will, for example, display a touch timer, permitting the player a fixed number of touches before falling away.
Motion control also makes a series of brief but welcome cameos via the game’s gyro stages, as Yoshi transforms into various vehicles in an attempt to beat the clock.
The Extras In Yoshi’s New Island
Then there’s the game’s ‘fake Yoshi’ stages, yet another winning idea from Nintendo, and one that might easily have supported its own puzzle title.
Set across two asymmetrical mazes, these sections task the player with forcing a mimic into a trap. It’s a simple, elegant design, and one that deserves better than its few fleeting appearances here.
The same could actually be said for many of the game’s better moments, with most events simply lacking in scope and overall ambition.
While certain designs will serve to test your patience – poor checkpoint placement is a real gripe here – it’s this feeling of being underwhelmed that really pervades the Yoshi’s New Island experience.
The game’s graphics, which attempt to mesh pastel-on-chalkboard environments with bubbly 3D characters, aren’t likely to win many admirers.
No matter a stage’s theme – from fiery caverns to icy hollows – Yoshi’s art style remains consistently drab and grating throughout.
Yoshi’s New Island Review
Even a halfway decent 3D mode can’t save the game from feeling decidedly last-gen, like a Nintendo DS title that somehow missed its release.
In terms of audio, Yoshi’s New Island offers a similarly unremarkable experience.
Most tunes fail to excite, with none likely to leave you humming in the long run. Sound effects for their part remain fairly unobtrusive, save for baby Mario’s high-pitched squealing – an annoying mainstay of the series that appears whenever an enemy attacks Yoshi.
Multiplayer adds little to the mix with six modes of basic activities, including egg shooting and enemy eating confined to co-op play – an unusual decision that effectively neuters the mode, reducing an hour or two’s worth of potential fun down to a 10-minute distraction.
While Yoshi’s New Island does get plenty right, including its core mechanics and a well adjudged level of difficulty, it’s also guilty of a crime that no Nintendo game should ever commit: underwhelming the player.
Boasting just 10-to-15 hours of solid, if largely unremarkable action, Yoshi’s latest’ effort never comes close to justifying its £35 asking price. Pick this one up on the cheap or pass on entirely.
Version tested: 3DS