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SummaryA work of gaming art that belongs in every game library
The GoodOf all the games I've ever played, this to me is the first that felt like the creation of an author, mindful both of his artistic vision and his audience. The game is a success in every sense:
- The introduction introduces the gamer to a compelling story, and that story is told successfully by the characters and gameplay. By the end of the game, you've felt like you've participated in a narrative due to the simplicity of the story and the manner in which it was told.
- The graphics are the first I've seen that intentionally avoided using the "State of the Art" to create its game. You'll find the latest and greatest graphics in terms of technology only in the menu screen. The levels are drawn in a crayon/pastel look that enhances the "feel" of the game. The look is a testament to the creator's intent to remain true to the idea of the game and story. The graphics are to me the element that truly immerse the gamer in the story and surroundings.
- The gameplay is very involving and adds a new idea to the platformer: you're no longer worried about losing lives, you're worried about losing your baby. It's a simple idea that gives the game the feeling of "something new." Also added to augment the typical jumping of a platformer is Yoshi's egg throwing, which fits surprisingly well.
- The music is some of the best I've heard in the Mario series, which includes the largest selection of hummable songs you'll hear. The Cave and Jungle ditties are outstanding level music, and the sonata from the introduction and ending is a fantastic piece.
- Game control is sharp, and that's saying a lot seeing as how there's so much that could be off, but isn't. From egg tossing to tongue spitting to jumping and "hanging" in midair, everything about the game control is on spot.
- The replay value is outstanding with the addition of red coins, stars, and flowers to challenge the gamer to truly complete each level. A great idea, and a great addition to the platformer.
The BadThe graphic design and feel of the game prompt "kiddy" comments from many of the more superficial, less critical gamers. I don't know what Nintendo could have done to market this game differently so more gamers were willing to try it. I think part of the problem is that the game came around right when the PS showed up and so many gamers were concerned about so-called mature titles instead of honest-to-goodness gameplay.
I guess "the bad" of the game is its timing: had it been released two years earlier, I think far more people would recognize the artistry and outstanding gameplay of Yoshi's Island.
The Bottom LineAmong the many games I've played, from great "old school" arcade shooters to console/PC platformers, RPGs, etc, Yoshi's Island is easily my favorite game of all-time.
I see this game as a truly exceptional accomplishment in gaming, and one that should be remembered as being the first game to recognize that "pushing the graphical envelope" isn't necessarily the only way to craft a graphically compelling game. In an industry obsessed with so-called innovation, Yoshi's Island's use of graphics is truly innovative.
If you have a chance to own this game, whether in its SNES or GBA format, own it. Give this game a chance and it will reward you in so many ways for having done so.