Review by Retro
"No way......I just reviewed a game that's still on store shelves!"
In 1995, an unlikely legend was born. Still riding on the success of the blockbuster hit from four years earlier, Super Mario World, and the popularity of other classic titles such as Super Mario Kart and the various NES hits, it didn't seem like there was much more the Mario series could do to further its legend. Nintendo decided to pull another Super Mario Bros. 2 - to take a chance by going down the strange, unbeaten path once again. Why not go way back in Mario's history?
A stork is flying casually in the dark, dusky sky. In his bill are two brothers, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. It seems like just another day until out of the midnight blue skies comes an evil wizard, Kamek, zooming through the air on his broom. He wants to steal a couple of babies to take to his master, Bowser, and there they are. Kamek is certainly no Harry Potter. He attempts to grab both babies from the stork. He does! But then one of them slips through his cold fingers. Baby Mario plummets thousands of feet until he lands on Yoshi's Island, a land overrun by look-alike dinosaurs of varying colors. Along with the baby fell a map. Could this be the way to the young human's parents? Yoshi decides to find out the hard way. No matter what lies ahead, he'll take Baby Mario with him if it's the last thing he does.
Yoshi's known it for years, but Baby Mario is about to see the beauty and danger that is abound in the tropical world of Yoshi's Island. There are more enemies, both new and recognizable alike, that will do everything they can to defeat this green dinosaur, just to seize this whiny baby that's sitting on his back. Life starts out fairly easy on flowery hills with only a few platforms to use as stepping stones as Yoshi dodges or kills living flowers and shyguys. Upon reaching the end of the level, you're under the impression that this will simply be another stroll in the park platformer. But as you progress, you'll soon find out that this is quite possibly the toughest Mario game to date.
You'll soon be traveling the entire island duking it out inside castles that have a million places to explore, but only one way out. Next, you could find yourself outside with beautiful light blue skies and isolated clouds hovering over the ocean in the background. A massive flock of seagulls suddenly come into focus, making it seem like a peaceful day at the beach. But these birds are soon going to get up close and personal with you. Some will flap their wings a few times and then swoop down at you head-first, while others are fat and literally rolling like a log toward you, and still more seem to have lost their bodies - only their heads and skinny feet are seen running toward you at speeds up to 50 MPH.
If you happen to make it out alive from this paradise for birds, you might even get the chance to cool down in a blizzard while riding ski lifts up to the mountain top before Yoshi straps on a pair of skis and takes Baby Mario for a wild ride down the slopes as he tries to avoid becoming a growing snowball that's spinning out of control. Talk about spinning out of control! There are a couple of times that Yoshi will be in proximity of hairy, floating balls that call themselves Fuzzy. Touch just one and Yoshi will become drunk in an instant, barely able to stand on one foot as the environment around him literally whirs around dreamily, possibly even making you, the player, feel a little lightheaded.
There are six worlds with eight levels ready to be played, and two of those eight in each world house a unique boss. Never before has a game had such an interesting array of bosses, even if most of them are rather easily defeated. Just wait until you are shrunken and swallowed by a frog and then thrust into its digestive system. Falling drops of stomach acid make you readily aware that death could be near. Make it a plant vs. animal feud when a piranha plant grows ten times its normal size and then attempts to head butt you. You're left with nothing to do but shoot eggs off the walls at the right angle to make it skid along the water to hit the plant's one vulnerable spot. Journey to a haunted house's insides and take on a HUGE ghost who's so shy it covers its eyes and becomes almost invisible when you look at it. How can this one be defeated?!!
Yoshi's Island is exactly as it sounds. There are so many different types of levels, bosses, enemies, and tactics that you could easily write a book on them. And I've barely scraped the surface.
One thing's for sure. It's not likely that a small dinosaur could venture through over 50 huge levels and hand a baby human safely over to his parents with nothing more than decent speed, a nice jumping ability, the capability to hover through the air for two seconds, and a knack for making and throwing eggs at will. But that's just what you must do.
Yoshi can't really be 'killed' unless he falls into a bottomless pit or hits deadly obstacles such as spikes or bubbling lava. Unfriendly forces tend to just stun him. When that happens, Baby Mario is thrusted from his back and propelled into the air crying, getting on your last nerve, as a timer counts down. If it reaches zero, Bowser's loyal thugs will carry the baby away with pride to their boss. Most enemies can be defeated by a jump on the head, the throw of an egg, or by being nabbed by Yoshi's frog-like tongue. While a foe, whether yummy or yucky, is in Yoshi's mouth, you can simply press down and Yoshi will instantaneously....err....crap out an egg (don't ask, I'm no doctor) that he can use at any time. But wait! This isn't all that Yoshi can do after all! During your fun and compelling quest, you'll run into a few bubbles that hold an item inside, such as a helicopter, gopher, or submarine. When touched, Yoshi will morph into these items for awhile, allowing him to do things he could otherwise not do and to collect items that were previously unattainable.
Speaking of collecting items, coins are abound, expectantly, but there are also 5 smiling flowers and 20 red coins to be collected in every level. Finally, you can keep up to 30 small stars in your tank that serve as how many seconds you have to catch Baby Mario when he's not on your back. But even better, these three special types of items determine your overall score when you complete the level (30 + 20 + 50 = 100!). It's a major challenge to get a perfect score of 100 in each and every level in the game, and this is ultimately what gives Yoshi's Island a continent full of replay value.
Just when it occurs to you that Yoshi has all the fun and does all the work in Yoshi's Island, Baby Mario gets in on the action and does something other than cry for once! Upon grabbing a hold of that mysterious hopping yellow star, you'd expect Yoshi to flash vibrantly the colors of the rainbow, but what you don't expect to see is what actually happens. Baby Mario jumps off Yoshi's back with a huge green and white spotted egg trailing behind him. He's invincible for a matter of seconds. He can do things Yoshi can't, such as run fast enough to cling to the ceiling (perhaps he knows Sonic The Hedgehog?) and even sprint over spiked floors as he follows the trails of coins ahead of him and keeps an eye out for another star. When time runs out, that egg that's been hot on his heels the whole time will pop open and Yoshi will regain control and continue his dangerous adventure.
Yeah, Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island is the exact same game that you remember from the SNES. Only a few of the sound effects have been altered slightly. It's still a cinch to control Yoshi (and Mario) no matter what he's doing with the great controls. As in the original, the graphics, sounds, and music have an uncanny ability to blend in perfectly with what's currently going on in this fantastic adventure. The beautiful waterfalls empty onto sparkling rocks in the backgrounds of the underground caves as one of my all time favorite video game tunes is heard: a somewhat soothing, yet enigmatic song with low-key drums that sounds just as I would imagine a cold, living cave full of fluttering bats sounding. The background, with its overhanging rocks and flashing gem-filled floor scroll along at different rates for a nice realistic effect. That's my personal favorite example. But again, there are legions of settings to pick as a favorite. Perhaps a partly cloudy sky with smiley face clouds, a glowing sun, and an upbeat, summery tune is more up your alley?
The original Yoshi's Island in itself is worth buying and owning twice, if you ask me. It's not only one of the most revolutionary, most challenging, and best platformers of all time; it's one of the best games that's ever been made. Not only do you get a direct port of the SNES classic in its entirety for your Game Boy Advance, but there's more. If you're skilled enough, you just might unlock a few levels that were never before seen in the original. And, I've heard a few cries about Nintendo throwing in the original Mario Bros. (you know, the one in which Mario and Luigi are in the sewers jumping and banging their fists on the floors underneath scurrying crabs, turtles, and other beings to turn them upside down so they can kick them off the platforms) in each of the Mario Advance titles. Myself, I think it's a great addition. I find myself playing it often when I'm not enjoying the main showcase, Yoshi's Island.
If the walls of my house could talk, they'd ask me, ''Didn't you get enough of Yoshi's Island back in the days when you played it all the time for the Super Nintendo?'' Well, no, I didn't. Fast-forward eight years and I still can't get enough of it, whether I play it on the SNES or the GBA. Yoshi's Island is one of those games that I love enough to own twice. Is it for you? Or perhaps you've never had the chance to play the game at all? Either way, get it now! You'll love it.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/17/03
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