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Yoshi (NES) artwork

Yoshi (NES) review


"I like Tetris clones. Thereís just something about pouring all of your concentration into getting your colored pieces of something or other into just the right place in time, trying not to panic as you fix your mistakes, and smiling at your high score that makes them fun. I just like it when theyíre done right. Incidentally, my favorite one (Tetris Attack) features Yoshi, so I wondered if this one would turn out nice and peachy as well. It turns out the answer is no. There are some good ideas he..."



I like Tetris clones. Thereís just something about pouring all of your concentration into getting your colored pieces of something or other into just the right place in time, trying not to panic as you fix your mistakes, and smiling at your high score that makes them fun. I just like it when theyíre done right. Incidentally, my favorite one (Tetris Attack) features Yoshi, so I wondered if this one would turn out nice and peachy as well. It turns out the answer is no. There are some good ideas here, but one major problem. Itís just too darn simple to be truly enjoyable.

You control the plump plumber Mario, who sits at the bottom of the screen with his hands on two adjacent plates. There are four of these plates that he can switch around, which make up the four columns of stuff on the screen. Blocks with various Mario enemies fall from the sky, two or three at a time. Marioís only defense against this is to switch plates around. Pressing left and right shifts Mario around, while A or B switches the two plates heís holding around (and down naturally speeds up the falling blocks). If you stack two of the same kind of enemies, they disappear. However, there are also two halves of Yoshi eggs as well that can fall. The bottom half acts like a typical block, and the top generally disappears on contact. However, if you put the top on any column that has a bottom anywhere in the stack, The two halves and anything in between will disappear, the game will pause, and a Yoshi will appear. Yep, thatís the big gimmick.

And thereís a fair amount of options too. Thereís two different types of games, with three different speeds, five different levels (how many rows of blocks you start out at), and even three different tunes to listen to (not that any of them are good though). The first game is your standard Tetris fare, playing forever until you finally get a stack too tall and playing for the high score. The other is an elimination game, you win the level when thereís no more pieces left on the playing field. You canít expect much out of the NES, and thereís a fair amount of variety here for its age. The only thing thatís missing is multiplayer, sadly.

With such a small screen (4 columns by 8 rows), youíd expect the game to be simple. Heck, you only need two blocks to make them disappear. Fortunately, the Yoshi concept makes it from being completely pointless. You rack up your points by completing eggs, with the more junk inside the better, as simply getting two blocks gone barely makes a dent in your score. Likewise, the game decides in its congenial manner to keep track of how many Yoshis you created. Thus, you have something else to look for than simply staying alive. Thereís also another little trick you can learn with Yoshi. Suppose a top of an egg and a goomba are falling, and you have a bottom of an egg on a column with a goomba directly beneath it. Due to the fact that you can switch around columns even after one of the blocks hit, you can connect the egg halves and then get rid of the goomba as well. Cool, eh? Ok, so it isnít, but at least it proves that thereís some originality and depth to a game that seems overtly simple.

So whatís the big problem? Itís not that itís too simple, as itís more complex than Bust a Move, but that itís too easy. Take the first type of game. The very first time I played, I got up to level fourteen (I believe by that time the speed is pretty close to being maxed out, if not already there). And Iím sure I would have done better if I wasnít getting bored with it by then. The same holds true for the second type. The largest number of rows you start with is six, which isnít too hard to get rid of. In fact, it seemed to me that the game tried to help you by making the first two drops correspond exactly to the top layer of your columns! The appeal of Tetris and its clones is that its hard and keeps getting harder. But here, it starts out easy and lasts up to moderately difficult before calling it quits. And thatís when you call it quits too.

Itís not too surprising Nintendo never created a sequel to this game. The concept itself doesnít seem too bad, but it just fails once you actually get to the game. There is room for simple Tetris clones in the world, but this one is just too easy. Anyone with any experience with games will be able to master this game within minutes, and thatís a big no-no in any genre. Since the game is so easy, all you have for entertainment is points or number of Yoshis gained, but neither ends up satisfying. You canít even find challenge by playing someone else, as thereís no multiplayer. Neat concept, but the game just doesnít cut it. Too bad.

Rating: 6/10

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Community review by mariner (June 12, 2005)

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