|Release: March 14, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Cartoon Violence|
by Sean Engemann
2013 may have been the Year of Luigi, but now that the green dudded plumber has had his time in the spotlight, Nintendo can stretch their cast of icons again. Who better to bring back than the most loveable dinosaur in video games? Yoshi's New Island is the third entry to the series (we don't include Yoshi's Story). Yoshi's Island DS was the most recent entry, which fit well and fared well on Nintendo's previous handheld juggernaut, the DS. But that was back in 2006, and many of us were curious when the next entry to the series would emerge. Well it's here at last, and as cute as ever, but decidedly caught in a format that will appeal to younger and greener gamers than those looking for a challenge.
The story stays true to its predecessors, with Kamek once again stealing baby Luigi from a stork on a journey to deliver the two baby brothers to the doorstep of their rightful owners. Baby Mario is spared from capture and falls out of the sky, landing in the middle of a group of Yoshi's discussing how they will relieve their island now under the clutches of baby Bowser. So with the diaper donned Mario in tow, the cavalcade of colored Yoshi's embark on a journey to both reclaim their land and reunite the brothers with their parents.
Yoshi's New Island is as charming as you'd expect, with clouds and distant hills all sporting smiles, swaying and bopping to the tunes that play with the innocence of a toddler at the keyboard. Pastel colors prevail, and the crayon/water-painted art style will whisk you right back to the nostalgic days playing with Yoshi. Most of the levels are laden with nature's florae, with the mid and end boss stages set within Bowser's fortifications. Among the six worlds, you'll find a few variations such as snow-capped boards and the odd lava stream, but much of the environment is recycled throughout, not giving a clear distinction between them.
Yoshi has plenty of inbred tools to help him tackle the journey. His boots are made for bopping, but also provide the useful flutter kick to reach platforms and avoid pits. Then of course he has that patented tongue that can gobble up almost any enemy in his way. He can then spit the enemy back out, or send it on a journey through his bowels, emerging as one of up to six eggs in tow. The eggs can then be launched to either knock out other enemies or collect coins and the five Smiley Flowers hidden in each level.
You have a few control options at your disposal with regards to tossing eggs. The default is an arrow guide that follows an arc around Yoshi's front side. The alternative (and better) method is to switch on the gyro controls option, where slight tilts change the direction the egg will be launched. This is by far the quicker style that gives more control to the player. The downside however, is that it doesn't pair well with the system's 3D effect, though there isn't much worth straining your eyes to stay in the "sweet spot", so I would definitely recommend the gyro controls over the 3D.
My other control recommendation is to use the control pad for Yoshi's movement. Though you've probably adapted your thumb to the Circle Pad, it is very sensitive, and you'll find yourself inadvertently ground pounding into a pit more times than you'd like.
With the proper controls set, you're ready to roll, but don't expect too much to slow you down. The overall challenge is rather remedial. Most boards can be breezed through in about a minute, with only the odd castle level requiring you to backtrack and collect keys. It's not until World 5 when you when lose a few Yoshi's to a tricky spot, and even those are few and far between. After three failed attempts, Yoshi can strap on some flutter wings and simply fly past all the obstacles, taking away the challenge almost completely (though you don't get full credit for clearing the board). Yet your conscience may be glad at the ease of gameplay, as hearing Mario cry when knocked off of Yoshi's back is heartbreaking, and even more disturbing should Yoshi fail to scoop him up before the timer runs out, where Mario is whisked away by Kamek's minions to horrors unknown.