An enjoyable platformer with an emphasis on exploration, Yoshi’s New Island perpetuates rather than innovates many of the series’ most fun traditions.
Developed by Arzest (who worked on the StreetPass Mii Plaza software) and published by Nintendo, Yoshi’s New Island is a direct sequel to 1995’s SuperMario World 2: Yoshi’s Island… if you don’t count Yoshi’s Story or Yoshi’s Island DS. Once again, the stork delivering Baby Mario and Baby Luigi to their parents has been intercepted by Kamek, the evil Magikoopa. Luigi was taken, whereas Mario fell from the sky and safely landed on Egg Island in the care of the Yoshi clan. It’s up to you to reunite the brothers and defeat Kamek, Baby Bowser, and countless baddies along the way.
Only Baby Mario is along for the Yoshi-back ride this time around, but there are still plenty of abilities that players need to master on their journey. In familiar fashion, you can eat enemies in order to create eggs, flutter jump, and ground pound (often times accidentally to your doom if you’re not paying attention). The inexplicable ability to transmogrify into vehicles returns this time around in a few of the game’s segments, though they’re controlled using the 3DS’ gyroscope instead of a precise button layout.
New to the Yoshi series is the ability to create giant eggs by gobbling up equally over-sized enemies, whose trajectory can be scouted using magical binoculars floating somewhere nearby. Regular and metal giant eggs can be made, the latter allowing players to sink in water while in tow and find otherwise inaccessible secrets. Once thrown, these giant eggs decimate enemies and environments in their path. The portions where giant eggs actually come into play are few and far between, though, and feel more like gimmicky afterthoughts than part of the otherwise fluid level flow.
The boss battles you encounter midway through each world in Yoshi’s New Island also felt a bit unimaginative, as they merely pit players against Kamek in slightly different arenas. Sure there are nuances that set them apart, but it’s hard to wonder why something more imaginative couldn’t have been in its stead, even on a portable console. I understand that it’s difficult living up to the memory of fighting a giant raven on a moon, but the least they could have done was try.
Even with my lifelong appreciation of every happy memory Nintendo is responsible for, Yoshi’s New Island is ammunition for the naysayers who claim the company gets by on its laurels. Sure, they’ve blazed trails in terms of hardware and software in the industry for decades, but this game feels like a generational reboot trying to recapture the magic, like The Amazing Spider-Man as compared to Sam Raimi’s 2002 incarnation. It’s a safe bet to stick by a tried and true formula, but those who have already experienced it are far tougher to sway on subsequent outings.
Yoshi’s New Island is ultimately a fun platforming title that anyone with a Nintendo 3DS and love of exploration should try. While there aren’t many new wrinkles in this colorful world, it’s still a fine title that reinforces everything there is to love about Mario’s favorite dinosaur sidekick.
Yoshi’s New Island is now available on Nintendo 3DS.