Review by Retro
"An eggstrordinary game!"
Just like Super Mario Brothers 2 for the NES was the oddball of that series, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (Yoshi's Island for short) was the oddball of the SNES series because it's not anything like the typical Mario adventure.
To start off, I'll tell you a brief overview of the storyline. Believe it or not, Mario and Luigi are babies in this game. A stork is on its way to delivering Baby Mario and Baby Luigi to their proud new parents when all of a sudden, something goes wrong in the skies and Baby Luigi is kidnapped. Somehow, Mario gets rescued by a group of colorful Yoshis that live in a place called Yoshi's Island. They understand that Mario has been kidnapped by the all powerful and equally evil Bowser. It's up to the Yoshis to help Mario find his lost brother and rescue him. Can you believe it? The Princess isn't the one being rescued for once and she's not even in the game!?!
In Yoshi's Island, you will mainly be controlling Yoshi. Yoshi has developed a lot more skills than he had in Super Mario World. There are 6 fun and challenging worlds to complete en route to finding Bowser's hideout. Each world has eight different levels, each with its own set of challenges and dangers. The levels range from underground caves, sewers without the smelly parts, mountain levels with skiing slopes, ones with an ocean in the background and sea gulls literally invading the level's territory, haunted castles, and many many more. In the fourth level of each world, you will have to make your way through the level and fight a mini-boss at the end of it. In the eighth and last level of each world, you must go through the level and fight that world's main boss.
As you make your way through the many worlds and levels in Yoshi's Island, you will have to face many familiar and unfamiliar enemies and bosses. Among the familiar are shyguys, turtles, goombas, Bowser, and so on. Most of the enemies are new and haven't ever been seen in any other Mario adventure, such as flowers walking around, tin cans, evil butterflies, sea gulls, and so many others it'd take all night to list them all. Most of the bosses are HUGE and they can range from a frog that swallows you, a hungry plant, and so on.
In each level, you will have to use Yoshi and make him do many different things. If you haven't ever played this game before, then you'll probably get a few shocks from what you'll be reading the next few paragraphs. Like I said earlier, Yoshi has developed new skills since the great game of Super Mario World. Yoshi can now use his tongue and lick straight up, he can float through the air for a few seconds by flapping his arms, he can jump and then stomp down, and he uses eggs as his main weapon. Yoshi can collect eggs a variety of ways. When he eats an enemy, he can either spit the enemy out of his mouth, or make an egg out of most of them. In certain levels, you will find a flower that spits out eggs until you have a full load of them. There are also many green blocks that you can collect eggs from until you have as many as you can hold. Yoshi can keep up to about six eggs at a time.
There are a few kinds of eggs. The basic eggs are regular sized and they're green with a few white spots on them. Yoshi can use these to throw at his enemies or at an item that is out of reach that he wants to collect. There are other kinds of eggs such as huge versions of the basic eggs that create an earthquake when you throw them and others such as yellow or red eggs that will give you coins or stars when you use them against an enemy.
To add to the replay value tremendously, the levels of Yoshi's Island keep a score of the things you're supposed to collect. In every level in the whole game, while you're venturing and trying to make it to the end of the level, you will need to find and collect all the flowers and red coins in each level. To beat this game, all you have to do is get past all the levels and beat all the bosses, but it's a lot more fun to try and collect all the flowers and coins, because if you do, you will earn something a little extra.
In each level, you can collect and keep hold of up to 30 stars. Even though these stars are always smiling and look a little cutesy, they play a major role in the game. The whole time you're playing the game, Baby Mario will be on your (Yoshi's) back. Any time you get hit by any enemy or land on something such as spikes, Baby Mario will be enclosed in a bubble and start crying very loudly. To get Baby Mario back, you just have to use Yoshi and touch the bubble that he's in. When you get hit, you will see a circle on the screen with a number in it that is counting down. If that number gets down to 0, a group of enemies will swoop down and take Baby Mario away. Each time you collect a star, you will be given a second on the clock, for a maximum of up to 30 seconds. The stars also count toward your overall score at the end of the level, which I'll explain in a minute.
The next item you need to keep a look out for are the red coins. Like in all the games in the Mario series except for SMB 2, in Yoshi's Island, you can collect coins and every time you collect at least 100 coins, you will earn an extra life. Hidden in each level, are 20 red coins. The red coins are worth two points on your coin total for each one you collect. Finally, there are 5 flowers in each level. The flowers have white petals with a brown/orange smiley face in the middle. Each flower is worth ten points on your overall total for a level. Let's add them up. There are a total of 30 stars you can collect, 20 red coins, and five flowers that are worth ten points each. If you add fifty, thirty, and twenty together, you will get 100 points. That's how you get a score of a hundred for an entire level.
There are a few other important things you need to know about Yoshi's Island before you play it, if you haven't already. In each level, there is a circle that is made out of spinning white stars. This star circle marks the halfway point in a level. Go through this star circle and you will collect ten stars, or as many as you need, and you will continue from that point if you die any in the level. Yoshi's Island has many hidden surprises in store for you. If you're good at accidentally or skillfully finding secrets in video games, you will find hidden question marks made out of a cloud with two wings from time to time. Shoot this question mark cloud and you could get something such as stars, a 1-up, or even a switch block. In a few of the levels, you will see doors with a lock on them. To go through these, you must first find the key before entering that door. Finally, at the end of each level except for the boss levels, there is a goal that comprises of flowers and blank blue dots. When you jump through this goal, Baby Mario will be passed to the Yoshi that will take him to the next level, and the spinner will eventually land on either a blank dot or a flower. If it lands on a blank space, you will just go to the next level. However, if it lands on a flower, you get to play a bonus level! But remember, for that goal to have flowers on it, you have to collect the flowers during the level.
The bonus levels are usually fun. In each one, you can earn items such as extra lives, +20 stars, watermelons for spitting seeds, fire, or ice, magnifying glasses that will show you which coins are red for a level, and many others. But to get these items, you got to win them. There are straightforward bonus levels such as slot machines, ones where you just flip over cards and get what's on that card, and more. There are other bonus levels in which you will be competing against a computer-controlled player and have to do things such as have a watermelon seed-spitting fight, collect more coins than your opponent, and many others that I'll let you discover for yourself.
The last huge things about Yoshi's Island that I'm going to tell you about are the forms that Yoshi can take, and something cool that Baby Mario can do. First off, in certain parts of the game, you will run up on an item such as a helicopter, submarine, car, or train enclosed inside a floating bubble. Make Yoshi jump into these bubbles and he will instantly be turned into that vehicle. For example, when you jump into a bubble that has a helicopter inside it, Yoshi will morph into a helicopter. Then it's time for Yoshi to take flight. To turn back to a boring old dinosaur, Helicopter Yoshi will have to find a block that has Yoshi's face on it, or you could let time run out and he'd go back to the place where the helicopter bubble was. Each different vehicle has their own cool features. The helicopter enables you to fly (duh), with the submarine, you can fire torpedoes and dive to deep depths, the car can get taller while driving (you'll see if you play this game), and the train can go real fast.
Finally, Baby Mario doesn't do much of anything other than cry and sit on Yoshi's back, but if you find a yellow star jumping around, Baby Mario will put a cape on and have the ability to run along the walls, even upside down, he will be invincible, and he can use a contraption to float down from tall heights. But watch out, when you hear a ticking sound, it means he's about to go back to his normal self and hop back on Yoshi's back and turn the controls back over to Yoshi. As long as you keep collecting the yellow stars, you will remain playing as Super Baby Mario.
I could tell you in detail about a lot of other things in Yoshi's Island, but I won't because if you ever play this game, you will see that it offers to tell you the important things to do during the game, and you'll find out about other things. There are things Yoshi will have to use to get past certain levels such as arrows to reach unreachable heights, a dog named Poochy, and more. There is also a map that shows all the levels of the game, tells your scores, and even offers a differnt way of controlling the game. Finally, the biggest help you'll get from the game itslef come in the form of white blocks with a mouth on them in many levels, especially the ones at the beginning. Hit these blocks, and you will learn exactly how to make eggs, make it past certain parts, and so on. Therefore, Yoshi's Island can even be a game that kids can learn how to play real easily even though it's a challenging game. Yoshi's Island might not be like your typical Mario game such as Super Mario World or Super Mario Brothers, but believe me, it is a great game. In ways, it's better than the other games in the series. If you like 2-D action/adventure games or the other Mario games, take my advice and add Yoshi's Island to your collection!
GRAPHICS - Yoshi's Island has GREAT graphics for a 16-bit game. Almost all the levels have colorful 2-D backgrounds that are real eye candy. A few of the level's graphics such as the lava flowing in the background of an underground cave and the levels with an ocean in the background, really stand out in the graphics department. Most of the enemies and other characters are also well done and have good animation. A few parts such as when Baby Mario is seized after the timer runs out, and parts of the ending, even look a little 3-D.
SOUND - A few of the sounds are a little cutesy, and one part in particular (Baby Mario crying) might get on your nerves a little, but other than that, most of the sounds are great. I was especially impressed by some of the music in the game, mainly the tune at the title screen and the one that plays in the underground caves. I wouldn't mind having a soundtrack to this game.
CONTROL - Some of the controls such as controlling the submarine and skillfully making Yoshi float where you want him to, can take some practice. But overall, the controls are well done and easy to master after a few tries.
REPLAY VALUE - Even after getting a score of 100 in each level in the whole game and even after playing the game off and on for over 6 years, Yoshi's Island is still fun to play.
OVERALL - Even though it might be the oddball in the bunch, Yoshi's Island is just as classic and just as great as any of the other Mario games if you ask me.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 07/08/01, Updated 05/20/02
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