Super Mario World 2: Yoshi`s Island
Reviewed by Paul Tasker
It's 1998 and there's never been a better time to own a SNES, no
really. I mean, consider the facts. If you buy stuff that's been
'previously-enjoyed', you can build a library of titles that puts
an average Saturn, Playstation or even 64 owners collection to
shame on a next-to-nothing budget. I mean, once you had the machine,
if you bought "Super Mario Kart" you'd have possibly the best racer
you can buy (not to mention the best two-player mode), "Super
Street-Fighter 2" could satisfy even the most blood-thirsty
beat-em-up fan and of course, the original SNES game, the one
game that no Nintendo fan is without, I`m talking, naturally, of
Super Mario World. The cream of all games.
"But wait. Didn't they do a sequel? Yeah, Yoshi's World I think it
was called, came out about '94, maybe '95. I saw a screen shot once,
kinda weird. All this messy hand-drawn style of stuff, and the goofiest
oddball main character you ever saw. I never bought it, I was waiting
for the 64 Mario game, you ever played that?"
You see that was the trouble. What with the launch of the new
Nintendo looming, the new three-dimensional Mario game, and
flagship "killer-app" for the new machine, cast a 64-bit shadow
not only over this game but just about everything else for quite
Find a SNES (real cheap), buy this game and enjoy. Simple.
You see Yoshi's Island is far more than just an update or a sequel,
it's a whole new type of platform. Don't believe me? Well, I'd
argue that this, along with the Saturn's Clockwork Knight, were
the first 2.5 dimensional platforms. Now, not only will you have
to look out for obstacles and foes in front and behind you, but you`ll
have to run quickly past that drawbridge that falls upon you from
what you thought was just the backdrop. Behold the way that
platform you're standing on spins right round in glorious 3-D.
Excuse me, 3-D, on the SNES? At last someone has made a decent
use of the FX chip that spiced up the lives of Star Fox, Super Stunt
FX, Doom and all those others you`ve forgotten about.
Yoshi's Island sees you, rather than in control of a baby Mario,
control of the dinosaur himself with the plumber-to-be firmly
fastened to the green-one's back. Firmly fastened that is until
you touch something hazardous and soon enough baby Mario will
come flying off his back and floating about in a strange bubble all
over the show. It`s then up to Yoshi to get the baby back on board
by simply touching the bubble. If he fails to do this before the
player's timer expires, evil flying birds wearing goggles will
come and snatch the baby away and a life will be lost.
So what else is new? Well now, after playing Super Mario
All-Stars, it's become plainly obvious to see that the original
Super Mario World was nothing more than a NES game with a
few more colors and a couple of nifty SNES surprises. Yoshi's
Island grabs it by the throat, sprinkles on a bit of FX magic and
smooths out all the nasty blockiness that is now the curse of
the ageing original. The previously finely-crafted visuals have
been transformed with a new hand-drawn style which, despite
initial reservations, are as finely crafted as the original graphics
ever were with some great light effects in the backdrop and an
excellent use of parallax. Now smooth slopes replace the steps
of old, beautiful contours line every level. This really is a Super
Mario World to be in.
The levels, aside from their 1995 loveliness, play pretty much
as before. The key difference comes in the way Yoshi chooses
to dispose of the evil wizard Kamek's nasty henchmen. Like before,
Yoshi can swallow enemies with the use of his lengthy tongue,
which has so often come in useful around the clubs and bars of
Mushroom World on a Saturday night. This time however, a simple
down on the controller will magically transform the swallowed
enemies into, obviously, little green eggs. Then, by the use of a
target cursor, Yoshi can launch these eggs at nasties, walls,
coins (it wouldn't be a Mario game without them) or whatever it
is that blocks his path to the end of the level. If all that sounds a
little complicated compared to the simple 'jump-on-the-head' days
of old then well you'd be wrong. The game provides two settings on
which way Yoshi wishes to fire the eggs, Patient and Hasty. In
playing, both are similar, it just comes down to personal preference.
Thankfully, the battery-back up on the game is much improved over
the original. Once you complete a level, should you not wish to set
eyes upon it again, the game will record your achievement and you
can cast it aside forever. The only reason you should want to play
it again would be to improve your 'score', a number up to 100 which
is formed on how much of the level you discovered. For instance, on
each level are 5 big smiley flowers, 20 special red coins (hidden as
normal bog-standard golden ones) and the resources to bump your
timer up to a maximum 30 seconds. Should you complete the level
with all these collected, you`ll receive a maximum score. Do this
for every of the eight levels in any of the six worlds and you`ll be
rewarded with a tricky bonus level and a chance to play a bonus
game where, upon victory against the Bandit, you`ll receive items
to help you on your way. While younger players can concentrate on
just negotiating each level in turn, the more experienced players
will find a challenge waiting them somewhere in the game too.
2-D, 3-D, 2.5-D, call it what you want, Yoshi`s Island is quite
possibly the finest example of platforms action you`ll find.
The graphics, the control system, the level design, to name but
three, all show a level of ingenuity you thought you`d only see
on a more powerful machine. It seems Nintendo have not resented
the constraints of the simple platform, but embraced them.
So when you buy that cheap second-hand SNES, get Yoshi's Island
and remind yourself exactly why Nintendo make the finest video
game entertainment anywhere in the world.
10 out of 10