Review by Crocomire
"Not the Yoshi's Island 64 we were all hoping for but a decent game nonetheless"
It isn't anything spectacular. Baby Bowser has stolen the Yoshi's Super Happy Tree and the Yoshi's need it back so they can stay happy. Great isn't it?
Let's get this out of the way first. Yoshi's Story is aimed at kids. If you're a long time Yoshi fan then you'll be utterly disappointed at what Nintendo have done to the awesome dino-dude in this game. There are parts of the game which are ideal for older gamers but more about that later.
After Yoshi's huge success with Yoshi's Island on the Super NES, everyone was expecting his N64 sequel to be even bigger. Sadly, it wasn't to be. The game is a side-scroller with a sort of 3D feel to it. 3D in the sense that everything looks 3D but you travel through the game like you did in Yoshi's Island and all the other 2D platformers of the SNES days. It looks great that's for sure. Yoshi's N64 game didn't have to be in full 3D. After all, his accomplishment with Yoshi's Island was because it was one of the best 2D games ever. All Nintendo had to do was give the game awesome graphics, more levels and tons of bosses and you'd have one of the best games ever right there.
Well, the game is played in a storybook, hence the name. Maybe it's just a short story Yoshi told to the kids or something and the story is the game we play. But anyways. We progress through the story in a pop-up book. Page 1 is world 1. At first, you can only select one level from this world and after you beat the level, you go to page 2. The goal of each level is to go through and eat as much fruit as you can. As soon as you eat 30, you beat the level. It's that simple. Fruit is dotted all around the level and sometimes you'll have to search very hard to find the best fruit the melon. Melons are Yoshis' favorite fruit and by eating lots of them, you earn big scores. At the end of the level, your points are totalled up and you get an end-of-level score. You get points for every enemy you kill, every fruit you eat, every coin you grab, among other things. This is where the older games players will enjoy Yoshi's Story by trying to get the highest score they can for every level and the story mode. Luckily, for every level you play in, it becomes available in trial mode where you can choose to play any course you want and get the highest score you can. Depending on how many big hearts you find in the level you are on in story mode, it will determine how many levels become available for playing in on the next page. You can only play in one level per page though so if you want to unlock all the levels for trial mode, you need to go through the game many times and find those hearts.
So it sounds like a decent platformer but it slips up in so many places. Especially when you take into account that Nintendo created a little game called Yoshi's Island before it. You see, you can get through the game in 20 minutes, probably less as that was just an estimate, whereas in Yoshi's Island, it takes you hours to beat just to fly through the game. All you have to do in Story is run through eating all the fruit you see until you eat 30 of them. Then it's on to the next page. With Island, you had to go through 8 levels over 6 worlds, and every level was huge. And each world had 2 bosses. Yoshi's Story has hardly any bosses and they're so easy to beat.
What I think the problem is, is that because the game is aimed at kids, it's incredibly easy for the older gamers. The only thing adults and teens will enjoy is beating their high scores and going for the best possible in trial mode. I personally love trying to get great high scores so I found myself coming back to the game a lot just for the trial mode.
A couple of other things that will totally put older gamers off are after you beat a level, the Yoshis sing. Now I have no problem with dinosaurs singing but when it's this bad, you just have to reach for the mute button until you start the next level. I've no idea what they're saying either but you can tell that it's just very childish singing and enough to put anyone off. Add the fact that you've got the constant hearts flying all over the place, the game's in a pop-up storybook, and the constant nagging of the Yoshis growing happier with each page turned and trying to save the super happy peace tree, and you've got a lot to put up with if you're an older Yoshi fan. Being a huge Yoshi fan, and having loved the masterpiece that is Yoshi's Island, I had to get the game. I ignore all what goes on in the game when I play it but like I said, the reason I return to play is for the trial mode, and I'm sure that if any of you older gamers are willing to buy the game, you'll be playing it just for the trial mode too.
Bad points aside, you have some brilliant platforming action here. Yoshi's old moves return from Island, such as the egg throwing and ground pound, and it's really cool that you can choose which color Yoshi you want to play as for each level too. Should you die, your Yoshi will be kidnapped and taken to Bowser's castle and if you want to save him, you'll have to find the white shy guy in a level to send him to get him. There are also 2 secret Yoshis waiting to be unlocked so that's another reason to keep playing through the game.
One cool feature I haven't yet mentioned is that you can search for secrets and hidden items by sniffing around the levels. By holding R on the controller, the screen will zoom in on Yoshi and he'll start sniffing the area. If you get close to a hidden secret, an exclamation point will appear above his head, and once you're bang on the spot, he'll jump up and tell you to pound the ground. Do it and you'll reveal the secret under the ground. It's perfect for searching for those melons which rack up your scores and coins which add to your total.
Simple controls for a simple game. You use the control stick to move Yoshi around, A to jump and B to stick out his tongue. Holding A will make Yoshi flutter kick which is great for getting to higher ground. One neat thing about Yoshi's tongue is that, unlike Yoshi's Island, you can now lick in any direction, whether it's directly up or straight down. Jumping and then hitting Down will make you pound the ground and holding R will make Yoshi sniff. To fire eggs you can either tap Z or C-down. A frame around the outside of the screen tells you how much fruit you have eaten and which ones, but you can turn this off by tapping L. I usually keep it off so I can see more of the game screen.
As this is a side-scrolling game, I would have much liked the additional control option of using the d-pad to move Yoshi around, as well as the control stick. But sadly, the d-pad doesn't do much else other than shrink or grow the fruit frame on the screen. Using the d-pad would have been quite a comfortable method of controlling Yoshi, but unfortunately, you can't. And I know I'm just being picky now, but I would have liked the Z button to make Yoshi pound the ground rather than hitting Down on the control stick. I think it is because I've become accustomed to tapping Z to do a ground pound in Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. But I can live without it.
So apart from my pickiness, the controls are fine for the game. You shouldn't have any problems getting used to them.
The graphics are certainly very nice. The 3D effect that the game has enables for some beautiful backgrounds, character models and land effects. Water also looks quite magnificent in levels like Jungle Puddle. Yeah, there's nothing to be worried about on the graphics front everything's gorgeous.
There's some real jammin' and quality beats going on in this game. I have a lot of favourites but some of the best are from the Shy Guy Limbo level and the underground pipe mazes. You can't help but dance along to the shy guy limbo beat and nod your head to the rhythmic rapping of the underground mazes. That's right, rapping. There's a proper rap going on in this game and it's really cool if you listen to it. It's hard to make out a lot of it but you can clearly hear Yoshi many times. There are some great pieces of music in Yoshi's Story, despite the Yoshi's song after every level.
This is the very first game in which Yoshi gets a voice too! He might not speak proper English or anything but his Yoshi language is pretty cool. It's nice to see his voice has been developed further in his latest games and used from this game onwards in all the future games with Yoshi in. In fact, every color Yoshi in this game has a slightly different voice to one another. If you listen, you'll notice that each one has their own voice. It's quite remarkable.
Sound effects are also up to scratch with everything from explosions to fire balls sounding realistic.
I so wanted to give this game much higher, I really did. In fact, looking back at my good points of the game, I feel sorry that I can't give it higher. It's just the fact that the game is so easy and so short, and so I hate to say it kiddie. Yoshi's previous game is one of the greatest platformers ever created and when the news of a new Yoshi game for the Nintendo 64 was announced, everyone was happy. But it just isn't anywhere near what Yoshi's Island was. All the magic, the challenge, the length all gone.
But there are enough plus points in the game to ensure that I give it a decent score, rather than a poor one. Yoshi fans and kids will enjoy the game but older players will want to deeply consider getting it. If you can find it cheap somewhere, then by all means jump at the chance to bag it because it's worth owning for the trial mode and awesome music alone. Just don't expect the Yoshi's Island we all know and love.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/25/05
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