|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
The advent of 32- and 64-bit machines brought a glut of 3D action games sporting all sorts of "new" perspectives. Nintendo goes back to its roots with Yoshi's Story, for Nintendo 64.
A sequel of sorts to the Super Nintendo game Yoshi's Island, Story is a side-scrolling run-and-jump game, in the Super Mario Bros. tradition. (oddly, Mario is nowhere to be seen in this title) The story centers on six baby Yoshi dinosaurs as they travel through various storybook worlds to retrieve the Super Happy Tree from Bowser. Should they fail, happiness will never return to Yoshi Island.
Each of the six worlds contains four areas, for a total of 24 levels. Only one area in each world must be completed to move onto the next, so the game can be beaten by finishing only six levels. The goal of each level is to eat thirty fruits; other than that, each level has no true end, looping infinitely until the fruit quota is met. A few hidden items and areas lead to other secret levels.
Yoshi's Story uses the analog stick exclusively. The digital pad was good enough for its predecessors, and it's a shame to not see it supported this time around. Tossing eggs has a new hindrance: not only must the general direction be chosen, but also the length of the throw. The egg only goes as far as the crosshairs, not to the edge of the screen, so mistakes may often occur that will cause it to fall short of a target. Other than this, Yoshi jumps, eats, swims, and floats without problems.
Nintendo took some flak for the childish appearance of Yoshi's Island, but have gone to the extreme with this entry. The game even takes places in a pop-up picture book, with an appearance to match. The levels, from tall towers to deep seas, are full of bouncy springs, giggling ghosts, and billowy clouds. The Yoshis and the foes they'll encounter are colorfully cute, as well as clever and cuddly.
The music, like the rest of the game, is simple. But the sound effects really shine and allow the Yoshis to exhibit their childlike demeanor with idle humming, wordless songs of victory, and snuffling off of attacks.
This would be a very worthy game, were it sufficiently challenging. Unfortunately, whereas previous entries into the series were suitable for the entire family, Yoshi's Story seems aimed at the younger generation in terms of appearance as well as difficulty. The fruit-based goal lets a player quickly eat his way through a level without fully exploring it. The game can be replayed through different levels, but there is little incentive to do so. The final boss, Bowser, is in his easiest incarnation ever, and getting to him can take only an hour.
Nintendo took some wonderful graphics and characters and wasted them on a game that's done in less than a rental. Yoshi's Story will entertain the kids for awhile; older players will enjoy it, too, but it won't keep them coming back for more.
This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 23-Mar-98