Yoshi's Story Review

One of my favourite video game characters, you'll be unsurprised to know, is Yoshi, Mario's lovable steed and friend. As well as being a mainstay in the Kart and Party games as well as sporadic appearances in the main Mario games, the colourful dinosaur (or dragon, it's quite unclear) has deservedly spun off into his own platform games. While the main Mario games can be considered graphical tech demos that test the limits their respective consoles are capable of, Yoshi's games have always gone for a stylized, story-book approach. Until the recent release of Yoshi's Woolly World for the Wii U, this was most evident in the N64 game Yoshi's Story.

 

Acting as a sequel of sorts for Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Story stars six baby Yoshis who are on a quest to restore the island, which has been transformed into a story book by Baby Bowser. The main quest takes place over six zones (the familiar structure of Plains, Caves, Mountain, Jungle, Ocean and Castle), each with four levels in them, though the player only has to complete one of them. The hook of the core game-play is that instead of reaching an end-of-level goal, the player has to collect thirty pieces of fruit scattered across the level. While this seems like a relatively easy task, the player gets bonuses for collecting multiple versions of the same fruit. As an added challenge, there are thirty melons hidden in each level – collecting all thirty offers an added bonus, but they are well hidden. This gives the player an incentive to thoroughly explore the levels. Each level also has three Hearts hidden in them – finding these will unlock extra levels, which encourages multiple play sessions in an otherwise short game. Carrying over from Yoshi's Island, the Yoshis can flutter jump, lick out their tongue (necessary for collecting fruit) and throw eggs. The game is deceptively easy, especially for long-time gamers, though they can set out to find every secret in the game to give themselves a challenge.

 

Yoshi's Story is aesthetically pleasing, though low-res by today's standards. The sprites for the Yoshis and enemies are pre-rendered character models – the characters (particularly the Yoshis and the Shy Guys) have little animation quirks that give them bubbly personalities. Since it's tied into the plot, the levels look like storybook illustrations or craft work, with backgrounds seemingly constructed with fabric, card and other crafty materials. Though this stylized look is something Nintendo would go on to use in other games, it gives the graphics a timeless, almost whimsical quality. The soundtrack is equally cute and quirky, with each level playing a variation on the game's signature catchy theme.

 

Ostensibly Yoshi's Story is a game intended for children, with its adorable characters, visually distinct graphics, exploration-focused game-play and initially low difficulty. However, some older gamers will appreciate its charm. If you're into 2D platform games or are considering what kind of game to get for a child, you can't go wrong with this.  Pick it up here!

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© A L Harvey