Yoshi’s New Island is the kind of game I can understand a lot of people are wary about jumping into. From everything we’ve seen from the screenshots and trailers, it’s nothing more than Nintendo once again drudging up a classic favorite, giving it a new paint job,and slapping it with a $34.99 pricetag, somehow calling up the gall to call it a new game in the meantime.

By all intents and purposes, this is the kind of game I usually love to call out, low on new ideas and relying too much on useless new gimmicks to sell it to ignorant masses.

If you felt as jaded as I was when getting prepared to make your decision on whether or not to buy Nintendo’s latest 2D platformer, then do yourself a favor…one huge, enormous favor. Bottle up all those negative feelings and go make the purchase immediately.

Yoshi’s New Island is an absolutely heartwarming and wonderful game from beginning to end, and it will thaw the frozen souls of naysayers, proving wrong the idea that a bouncing dinosaur who can turn into a helicopter has no place in this modern video game world where nothing short of a revolution is ever enough.

The Joy of Caring

It is true that Yoshi’s New Island brings out the problems which haunt a lot of modern Nintendo games. No, this game is not big on new ideas and plays exactly the same as the classic it models itself after, and the transformations used in the trailers to help sell the game are situational gimmicks at best, but put that aside for just one minute.

For every aspect of this game that highlights the problem of Nintendo’s current “safe” frame of mind, it counters ten-fold with a genuine feeling of care put into each element. The music, the sound, the graphics, the gameplay. Every last puzzle piece of Yoshi’s New Island overflows with joy and creativity, and all those Negative-Nancy feelings will simply bounce off your glowing face when you play this treasure.

It’s the kind of game where you can tell the makers enjoyed waking up and going to work in the morning just for the opportunity to work on this game. It’s the kind of game where Producer Takashi Tezuka, director of Yoshi’s Island as well, had no problem casting himself as the squealing annoying antagonist, probably at the laugh of everyone in the studio who imagined him to have the same persona.

Tezuka Kamek

It’s the kind of game where the composer only had to write one song and then had a ton of fun with his team thinking of no less than a dozen different ways to interpret and remix it to match the feeling of a level, be it whimsical, urgent, adventurous, or just plain silly. You will be humming Yoshi’s New Island’s theme in your sleep after a solid play session.

It’s the kind of game that makes me chuckle thinking of how they produced each of Yoshi’s squeaks and sound effects. I can just imagine a Japanese voice actor making those silly noises into a microphone, and it makes me smile.

The point is that this game is just plain old-fashioned fun. No design by committee, no focus groups. Nintendo knew exactly what it was doing when it put Takashi Tezuka in the boss chair and told him to work his magic again. He and his team had total control of their output and obviously had a ball making it, and they effortlessly drop all that fun into to palm of your hands, so you can enjoy it too.

In this day and age, such pure gaming experiences from true masters of the craft are so hard to come by, and really, they are all you can ask for. Yoshi’s New Island knocks it clear out of the park. I haven’t been this happy playing a game in ages.

Delicious Frosting, Filling Cake

All those sentiments are fine and dandy, but how does Yoshi’s New Island actually play?

It isn’t exactly the hardest of games. I racked up over 150 1ups in my playthrough before finally closing the book of pain on Kamek and his goons. On the surface, Yoshi’s New Island is an excellent beginners’ game to get those unfamiliar with the series involved, but like all the best video games, the fun comes from digging deeper.

If you are the kind of person who breezes through a game just to rush to the next one, then hopefully Yoshi’s New Island captures you long enough to teach you the importance of savoring.

It is at its best once the dig for secrets and treasures begins, because beating the levels is only half the fun. “Robust” would be the best way to describe its level design, and each of the stages is overflowing with puzzles, mini-games, secret rooms, and collectibles. Six worlds, eight stages a piece, plus a final level or two. That is a lot of exploring and content for your dollar.

I’d say I came up with less than a quarter of the game completed by the time I hit the end, and I was more than eager to dive back in and uncover all of the goodies I had missed.

Each level must be completed with 300 percent perfect health, 30 stars, to be considered 100 percent finished. On top of that, all of the red coins must be found scattered amongst the normal yellow ones, and each level has five hidden flowers dangling beyond the edge of the screen, behind a closed door, or sometimes in simple plain view.

If I had any complaints, its that some of these secrets are a little unintuitive. Sometimes, jumping in the right area will magically make a secret floating cloud appear and tossing an egg into it will land a reward.

The only problem is that no hints are given as to where these clouds might be, leaving Yoshi to aimlessly leap into corners of the stage that he might have no business being in, only to be awarded with nothing.

And some of these “robust” stages require some vigorous combing to uncover everything.

I also have to call out a few of the vehicles that Yoshi can transform into. The submarine especially is particularly unresponsive and requires absolute precision of rotating the Nintendo 3DS in your hands to pick up a wayward red coin or a flower.

Turning your Nintendo 3DS in such a dramatic fashion only makes you look like an idiot when doing it on a crowded Japanese train during rush hour. A joke at your expense from the development team perhaps?

They are still laughing about their creation to this day!

Luckily, vehicles aside, Yoshi is as precise as platformer heroes get. His moves are responsive, tight, and his variety of abilities makes the search for secrets for more tolerable, because he’s just so much fun to control.

Pastel Watercolors

The only element of Yoshi’s New Island that truly stands out as different from the Super Nintendo classic is the art style, and when you’re following up one of the most beloved use of 2D graphics of all time, you are bound to turn off a few people.

Some have criticized Yoshi’s New Island for casting aside the crisp, heavily outlined sprites of the original and turning to an uninspired pre-rendered 3D look, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. Nintendo already tried to channel the look in Yoshi’s Island DS and look how quickly we forgot about that one.

Yoshi’s New Island is a gorgeous game with wonderful pastel backgrounds and characters, each of them clearly sticking to a watercolor theme. Castles are dangerous and intimidating, nights are starry and romantic, and the rest are just all places I would love to hang out and go on a vacation in.

I’d even love to bring the soundtrack with me and just chill.

I know I am speaking to a harsh crowd who worships the original’s graphics, but relax. This is not the uninspired, trite artwork reserved for the cash-grab New Super Mario Bros. games. Yoshi’s New Island’s art director clearly had a vision when jumping into this game, and his work might actually trump the original.

It’s certainly not as revolutionary as Yoshi’s Island, nor does it by any means push the powers of the Nintendo 3DS, but again, the word “joy” comes to mind, and I never once got sick of just sitting and looking at this game. More often than not, I found it hard to look away.

Yoshis New Island - Review - Hero

Pure Nintendo

Editor's Choice

Rating

9.0
Yoshi’s New Island is amazing from beginning to charming end. Don’t hesitate for a second to buy it folks, unless you hate smiling.

Yoshi's New Island

Yoshi’s New Island was a brilliant little surprise. Like the opening segment suggests, I didn’t have that high of hopes for it, but it warmed my steel-hardened gaming soul and turned me into a believer. This is video game making at its finest, vanilla fun. A gorgeous game with so much to see and do around every corner, and so many fun ways of going about it.

I applaud Nintendo for sticking to what it does best, and I especially applaud Producer Takashi Tezuka for finding a way to make this game stand out on its own without leaning on the crutch of his career highlight, the Super Nintendo classic Yoshi’s Island.

Creativity is more than just thinking up new gameplay mechanics. He and entire his team, especially his art director and brilliant composer, were obviously in love with making this game and poured their souls into turning it into the best game it could be. And in turn, I was absolutely in love with playing it, even more so than the original.

Sadly, Yoshi’s New Island isn’t going to work its way into video game history with the same reverence from Nintendo fans, and only in this sad, cynical gaming atmosphere of shooting people in the face, calling each other names over microphones, “mature” storytelling, and  mass murder via controller, could its upbeat achievements be considered anything less than brilliant.

Yoshi’s New Island succeeded in bringing a smile to the face of a jaded man who thought the green dinosaur had no new tricks up his sleeves.

Boy, was I wrong! Yoshi’s New Island is amazing from beginning to charming end. Don’t hesitate for a second to buy it folks, unless you hate smiling.

Disclaimer: Nintendo provided us with a review copy and we completed the game before writing this review. Now it’s back to treasure hunting for this reviewer!