Review by MaxH
"Sniff Sniff. I smell hype."
Yoshi's Island was one of the high points of SNES platforming (And indeed, a high point of the SNES itself) so Yoshi's Story had to be great, right? Especially with all the time this spent in development, right? Well, sorry I'm afraid not. As charming mindless fun goes this isn't bad, it's storybook style is often captivating. But it's ridiculously easy, and there isn't much to it.
I'm glad Nintendo decided to stay true to Yoshi's Island's 2d platforming style, but this is uninspired stuff. It really doesn't seem like a Nintendo game, they usually take immense care with their franchises making sure they are at least significantly different to other games. Sadly Yoshi's Story is completely devoid of new ideas. None whatsoever. The way you end the levels seems different at first, but really it just makes this stunningly simplistic game even easier. There is a 'beginning' and 'end' to each level, but you don't finish at the end, to finish the level you must eat 30 fruits (This is pitifully easy, as the levels are littered with fruits). Eat thirty melons in a level and, well you'll have the highest score. To simply have a 'high score' isn't really incentive enough to go hunting around the levels for melons (This is considerably harder, lots of them can only be found when you use Yoshi's sniff skill to track them down) is it? Granted, it IS a larger challenge than this speck of dirt-sized main game we are presented with. But I've always believed high scores and time trials were slightly cheap ways to coax some more hours out of a game.
It's fairly simple to play, just go through the levels, eating enemies for eggs (They shoot bubbles and other enemies) licking up fruit and jumping over platforms. Apart from the aforementioned sniff, Yoshi's other special moves include the routine ground-pound and the double jump, where Yoshi uses his legs to hover a bit (This is accompanied by an amusing constipated Yoshi sound). It's not really all that bad though, Nintendo may have delivered a disappointment but it's a pleasantly playable one that will occasionally raise a smile to your face.
It's a charming game for one. It's intensely cute, but I couldn't help smile when Yoshi first growled when standing near an enemy. But unfortunately the cuteness does become a bit overbearing once in a while, you wish for a little more attitude in the game (I hate to say the word attitude, but it's sorely lacking here). It IS a child's game though (Shame on me for buying it, I just loved the original so much) but it's a lot more patronising than it should be. The levels are very well designed, the norm for a Nintendo platformer, enjoyable to progress through though. Talking of that, a strong sense of progress is present here. After completing a level, you get to read a little 'chapter' summarising your actions into kiddy book form. A nice touch I thought.
Although getting melons is all well and good, I want something MORE. Everything here is just relative to the score you get at the end of the level. Shooting the mystery bubbles is no fun, because you always know what it's going to be, a fruit. To be honest I'm sick of all the damn fruit in this game, it's all you ever get. Nicely animated as they are, I don't CARE about getting all melons, so what if I get the high score? Where's my reward? The first game had 5 flowerheads in each level to collect, each worth ten points. Then there was up to thirty points depending on how much energy you were left with at the end of the level, and twenty red coins to collect. Together they made up 100, getting a mark out of a hundred gave you a clear image of how well you did. You were also rewarded with bonus rounds and secret mini-games. Why am I telling you about the original? Well, I'm trying to give you an idea of the great things that were ripped out of this game to be replaced by...... well, nothing really. There's no interesting searching to be done or experimenting with eggs (Which was always great fun) only eating fruit and getting high scores which has no affect on the game at all.
Disappointing and uninspired as it is, Yoshi's Story isn't a bad game. The graphics make it genuinely more bearable, and I suppose getting all the melons with reward you with a couple of seconds of unadulterated joy (after that you think 'but now what? Oh, nothing?'). There are some fun bits like riding on the back of a dragon, and the boss fights are undemanding fun (If horrifyingly easy. For one boss all you have to do is lick him dry (He's a ball of candy) and all he does is jump very slowly, so unless you suddenly become paralyzed I can't see anyone being killed by this one). As I say, there's nothing particularly wrong with it, but then there wasn't with Klonoa, or Tombi or Cool spot. And all of these have faded away without a whisper. It's just utterly mindless, unrewarding and unoriginal.
I also have problems with the control. It (peculiarly) favors the analogue stick over the D-pad. Why? Well, there are about THREE paths where you can choose to go along the top or the bottom (These paths go on for inches and meet at the end). but these 'dazzling' multi-paths are there in place of solid controls. Controlling a 2d platformer with the analogue stick is very hard. Often you'll put the stick just off to where it's supposed to be to move right, you won't move. This happens again and again. It's the same with moving up pipes, if you don't hold the control stick directly up, you won't go up it. Frustrating, but with a certain amount of practice it becomes less difficult.
There are about 28 levels here. Seven worlds with four levels each. It is mind-boggling that nintendo decided you'd only have to complete one level in each world to progress. Considering the levels here are so easy, and short, AND that you only need to complete seven to see the ending, that makes for a very short playing time indeed. Of course if you have any respect you'll go through four times and complete all of the levels (They're all different and entertaining enough to make it a fair time-wasting experience). But you still have to ask why Nintendo made such a cretinous move (Younger children, the game's target audience, will most likely think that's it and never play it again)
The graphics are brilliant. It's a shame they didn't spend more time on putting some interesting gameplay in this, but at least they made it look good. It has a constant nursery rhyme feel, go down the pipe to another screen, and the page will turn to reveal it, I liked this. Also plenty of the clouds and grassy platforms are actually patchwork quilts. There are lots of excellent touches like this that are a real delight to come across. It may be unoriginal in the way it plays, but it has an ingenious visual style.
The sound isn't too bad at first. The music is all one tune remixed to fit the style of the level (I -hilariously- got a free soundtrack of the game with my purchase of Yoshi's Story). But after a while it grates on the nerves and you hate it. Much like Enya. Yoshi's 'adorable' sound bites of constipation and his chirps of surprise also get annoying. Bring back the groovy country western from the first game I say.
Overall then, Yoshi's story is far from classic, and it just misses being branded solid. this is due to it just not having enough to it. No rewards, no original features, no acceptable lifespan. Nothing to recommend over most 2d platformers really. It's fun, I'll grant it that, it's easy to play and has a terrific inimitable style, and the occasional thrilling bit. But otherwise it's simply well-designed mediocrity. If you want a decent 2d platformer on your black box, then seek out Treasure's bizarre and original Mischief Makers. It may not look as good, but it breathes much needed fresh air into the genre.
+ Perfectly acceptable gameplay, fun enough and even better at times.
+ Good level design
+ Gorgeous visual style
+ Yoshi is my character of choice on Mario Kart/smash Bros/Mario Party. This is because I think he's a cool character with a lot of potential for a game.
The bad and the ugly
- Short? Oh yes
- Mind-numbing stuff. It's just too simple
- Nothing original and clever
- Cruelly unrewarding
- A disappointment after the fantastic original
- Style over substance
- Over-precise analogue movement required
- I compared the music to Enya, it doesn't get much worse.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/12/01, Updated 09/12/01
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