Review by ND9k
"A very well done port of an already classic game."
Yoshi's Island, originally released on the Super NES under the moniker of "Super Mario World 2," was one of the biggest hits of 1995. Unlike the open-ended gameplay of Super Mario World, which consisted of more than a hundred short levels that could be played in nearly any order, Yoshi's Island instead focused on fewer, but much longer, levels that were played in a linear order, which pieced together the storyline. Though not a new concept, it was certainly a new direction for the Super Mario franchise.
Thus, it only makes sense that by 2002 and the Game Boy Advance being such a hit, Nintendo would eventually get around to porting its classic titles onto the portable. Hence, Yoshi's Island was reborn on the GBA as the third installment of the popular Super Mario Advance series. This GBA compilation series was itself a success on the GBA, as it ported the original games with only minor enhancements, as to preserve the original appeal of the game.
Thus, Yoshi's Island is a very well-done port. While it obviously had to be rescaled to fit on the GBA's small screen, virtually little of the overall gameplay has been changed, which is a very good thing. The graphics are largely equivalent to what was found on the Super NES. If it isn't broken, why fix it? The only area where the port is clearly substandard to the original is in the sound department. I found that the sound cracks at various points throughout the game, although this is more of a limitation of the GBA's poor speaker than an actual game issue.
Yoshi's Island is played out like an interactive storybook. Each world, like a chapter in a book, consists of six levels, although the levels are long and very detailed. The detail should get particular emphasis because all the worlds, levels and characters are beautifully hand-drawn and not 3-d rendered. This means that even after seven years, Yoshi's Island still looks fresh and appealing, unlike some of its contemporary games that look terrible in comparison, due to the limited 3-d graphics technologies available at the time.
I don't need to delve very deeply into the actual gameplay, other than to again confirm that it plays almost exactly like the Super NES original. Though the GBA has fewer face buttons, actions such as egg firing have been smartly mapped to take advantage of the GBA's shoulder buttons. Even veterans of the original should have no trouble adapting to the GBA's button scheme. It's done so well that you'd think Yoshi's Island was a new game for the GBA.
As with all games in the Super Mario Advance series, Yoshi's Island includes some new features not present in the original game. Namely, new levels. And what's best is that the new levels are available to you without having to jump through any hoops. There's nothing extra to buy, nothing extra to do, etc. You just play the game as usual and you will gain access to them. I'm glad that Nintendo simply offered new features as if they were in the original game the whole time. This subtle addition is something that future games in the series should aspire to do.
Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 is a great port and slight update to what was already a solid and good game. This is one of those GBA games that you really can't go wrong with. It is very enjoyable and, like the original, will stand the test of time.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 09/27/02, Updated 03/27/09
Game Release: Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 (US, 09/24/02)
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