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Yoshi's Safari (SNES)

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Written by  :  Adzuken (858)
Written on  :  Dec 02, 2009
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Continuing Mario’s relentless abuse of Yoshi.

The Good

I remember the first time I laid eyes on the Super Scope. My cousins owned it, and with it they had Yoshi’s Safari. Back in the day, it was the coolest thing I ever laid eyes on, nowadays, it’s a bit perplexing. I can understand the logic behind Nintendo using their most beloved mascot to help sell their newest gadget, but to me, Mario and the Super Scope don’t mix. Never once have I played a Mario title and thought to myself, “Man, this game would be a whole lot cooler if Mario had a bazooka.”

That’s exactly what Yoshi’s Safari is, though. Mario rides Yoshi, his noble steed, through level after level, indiscriminately gunning down everything unfortunate enough to cross his path. Ho yes, it’s as if Mario finally snapped and decided he was going to take it out on the world’s wildlife. Even Yoshi isn’t safe, since you can shoot him in the back of the head. Heck, even during the victory screen, Mario takes a few shots at Yoshi, who then panics. Okay, sure, the violence has been strained through the cartoon filter, so it’s all very harmless, but there’s something wrong with the whole thing.

In all seriousness, though, Yoshi’s Safari is a decent game. It really doesn’t share anything in common with a typical Mario game. It’s an entirely on-rails, first-person, arcade-style shooter. There are opportunities in some levels to change your path, though the reasons for doing this are unclear. You can also tackle the levels in each area in any order you want. Enemies are fairly diverse and numerous and each level caps off with a boss battle. It isn’t a very deep game, but then, what light-gun game is? Yoshi’s Safari does include a boss that you have to defeat by shooting it in the crotch, which is always a plus for me.

Yoshi’s Safari certainly looks good. The graphics are very colourful and clean. It employs the typical mode-7 effect, making it appear almost like Mario Kart. The characters, especially the bosses, are very large and detailed. It’s a shame the cutscenes aren’t as lovingly detailed as the rest of the game, as they mostly use sprites that look like they’re recycled from Super Mario World. Nothing really stood out for me in terms of audio, which can be considered a good thing. I mean, I don’t remember finding anything annoying about it.

Surprisingly, there is a two player mode, though it’s probably not what you’d expect. During multiplayer, one person uses the Super Scope to shoot enemies, as they would in single player, while the second player uses the controller to steer Yoshi. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, Yoshi steers himself, but the second player does have the ability to shift him left and right, as well as control when he jumps. It’s a completely unnecessary addition, but it is nice to have. At the very least, it’s a welcome distraction while you wait for your turn.

The Bad

To its credit, Yoshi’s Safari does attempt to provide some context to the carnage. It also makes damn sure you read it, using the most excruciatingly slow text boxes. The text boxes fill up, letter by letter, at the slowest pace I’ve ever seen in a game. To make matters worse, the game stops after all the words have appeared for a few seconds, just to make sure you’ve read it. Pressing the fire button does speed it up, but it doesn’t always work the first time you press it, so you might never even know it’s possible. I don’t think I figured it out until the third time I played the game, though I just might be a bit slow.

Speaking of annoying cutscenes, Yoshi’s Safari really could have really used an editor. A typical cutscene in Yoshi’s Safari will say, “Mario and Yoshi were told by Princess Peach ‘You must travel to Jewelry Land to save the King and his Prince, and also their stuff.’” Then, shortly thereafter, just to make sure you didn’t miss it, the game will say “As a favor for Princess Peach, Mario and Yoshi begin on their journey to Jewelry Land to save the King, the prince, and their stuff.” This occurs in the same damned cutscene. Aside from speeding the text up, the cutscenes can’t even be skipped. The storyline is completely unnecessary, yet they do their best to shove it in your face.

Another major complaint of mine is the game’s lack of difficulty. Judging by the slow-ass cutscenes, it’s entirely possibly this game is foolishly aimed at children. Nonetheless, I was able to complete the game without coming even close to losing a life. After you complete the game, however, you do unlock a code to increase the difficulty. What is with Super Scope games that make you unlock hard mode? Especially when there’s no save feature, so the harder difficulty has to be unlocked with a code. Speaking of no save feature, Yoshi’s Safari doesn’t even save high scores, despite having a high score table. I can’t stand that. Are batteries really that expensive?

The bosses in this game are a little wonky. My biggest complaint is their uneven difficulty. None of them are terribly difficult, but some are harder than others. For example, the battle against the Boos is a hell of a lot more difficult than one of the more generic bosses in a later stage, whose weak point was placed directly behind the spot he fires from. Therefore, as long as I kept shooting the weak point, he couldn’t get a shot off. The battle against Wendy O. Koopa is more or less left up to random chance. She pops up randomly from one of four pipes while an anvil flies slowly across the screen. This means you could get lucky, and she’ll appear under the anvil quite often, or the game will screw you over by having her never appear under the anvil once. It’s entirely possible, and you have no control over it.

This may be nit-picking, but the bosses don’t really make any sense. All the Koopalings pilot these machines that look like different animals. I guess the design might be inspired by Bowser’s clown copter from Super Mario World. Stranger still is the fact that the machines each have faces of their own that react to being shot. Some of them just cringe, but others will outright cry as you whale on their weak point. Even Bowser has a very pathetic look on his face every time you hit him. It’s sad, really. It just adds to my theory about Mario being a huge jerk who is really just terrorizing everyone in the Mushroom Kingdom. Hell, I’m not even convinced that most of the enemies in the game really even attack you. For all we know, they just happen to be flying by the road when suddenly, here comes Mario, blasting everything in his path.

The Bottom Line

When my friend and I had finished with my most recent play-through of Yoshi Safari, the consensus was that the game is “decent.” It’s a fairly rudimentary light-gun game with nothing very special about it. In fact, I had a lot of difficulty figuring out what exactly I liked about this game. I still recommend it if you have a Super Scope, merely because there’s not a whole lot out there that supports it, and you could do worse. There’s nothing vile about it, it’s just so average. Nevertheless, I’m going to be generous and concede that Yoshi’s Safari is OKAY. It will especially appeal to you if you’ve ever wondered what Mario would be like with a gun.