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Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES) artwork

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES) review


"And I do mean "tricky" — I found myself stumped for a good number of minutes in one boss level before figuring out I had to swallow a Koopa at the top left of one gigantic chamber, go to the bottom right of the room and spit it at a near-inaccessible power-up cloud in order to release a staircase leading to the door out of that place. Things can be a bit more cerebral than in past Mario games."



A BRIEF ANTI-DRUG PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Early in Yoshi's Island, you might get the idea that drugs are cool from the first world's "Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy" level. You'll be going along, minding your own business and out of the blue, these fluffy little dandelion puffs will come onto the screen. Bump into one and nothing bad will happen. The screen will waver back and forth, with platforms bending, but there's no harm to it, as you'll likely be on long, flat surfaces lacking of hostile creatures. You'll just giggle while watching Yoshi stumble drunkenly through the visual mindtrip until the effect wears off and things go back to normal. There's nothing wrong with the occasional Fuzzy-touching. It's just harmless fun.

And then you get to a certain level in the fourth world where the Fuzzies reappear. But this time, you're not on a nice long stretch of flat land with no monsters around to threaten that oh-so-wonderful buzz. Now you're trying to leap across a series of tiny ledges while dodging foes more deadly than those so-called "innocent" Fuzzies. And do you know what will happen if you're trying to leap from platform to platform over bottomless pits while everything is bending and swaying all over the place? That's right -- a long fall, the loss of a life and the knowledge that indulging in those Fuzzies wasn't such a harmless and fun pastime after all. The more you know…

AND NOW, TO YOUR FEATURED REVIEW!

The things I do to keep the courts happy…*sigh*

Anyway, the reality-bending Fuzzies are just one of many potential hazards in Yoshi's Island, the second Super Mario World game released for the Super Nintendo. I get the feeling Nintendo decided to take a bit of a chance with this one, as it's the first Super Mario game to not feature the titular plumber as its main character. Instead, Yoshi, the friendly monster-eating dinosaur from the original Super Mario World takes center stage. The game is essentially a prequel to Mario's other exploits in the Mushroom Kingdom. When Mario and Luigi were babies, Kamek the Magikoopa attempted to kidnap them so they wouldn't repeatedly foil Bowser in the future. A great plan, except he only managed to snag Luigi and, really, who cares about Luigi? So, the area's supply of Yoshis decide to taxi Mario through six worlds consisting of 48 stages (or 54, if you do a LOT of work) to reunite the brothers and prevent Kamek's plan from being a success.

While turning a glorified power-up from another game into this one's hero might seem like a bizarre idea, it works. If anything, Yoshi has a more diverse array of moves. He replicates Mario's ability to jump on monsters, but that's easily the least handy of his attacks. You'll be wanting to take a page from Kirby's handbook and gulp them down. This won't give you special abilities, but will turn them into an egg, which then can be aimed and shot to take out other foes, reveal power-ups, break walls and blocks and so on. Swallowing various melons allows you to fire seeds like a machine gun or even turn foes to ice. By pushing down on the control pad while in mid-air, Yoshi will slam to the ground to pound in stakes (or just pound certain enemies who are a bit resistant to a simple jump-n-stomp). He also can hit certain icons to temporarily turn into a train, tank or sub in order to traverse previously inaccessible terrain, or even give Mario a brief moment or two in the sun by turning him into a super-baby capable of running up walls.

Even if Yoshi was a dull hero who could do little, odds are I'd have still enjoyed this game. Nintendo went all out designing visual awesomeness throughout its levels. This is about as appealing as a game on the SNES can possibly look with backgrounds having a pastel watercolor look and the foregrounds and characters being vividly colored. This game had to push the SNES engine to its limits, as its appearance is head and shoulders above most games for the system. And there's more to these levels than just good graphics. Yoshi's Island took a cue from Super Mario Brothers 2 and eliminated time limits, while designing a number of non-linear stages containing many twists and turns. You're meant to savor this game; not rush through it!

Boss levels (the fourth and eighth of each world) tend to be the trickiest to navigate, while the rest range in size and complexity from the short-n-sweet early stages to the massive "The Very Loooooong Cave" from near game's end. And I do mean "tricky" -- I found myself stumped for a good number of minutes in one boss level before figuring out I had to swallow a Koopa at the top left of one gigantic chamber, go to the bottom right of the room and spit it at a near-inaccessible power-up cloud in order to release a staircase leading to the door out of that place. Things can be a bit more cerebral than in past Mario games.

There's another reason these levels can be so vast -- collectibles. As mascot platformers evolved, companies began to look at their initial "go from point A to point B" style as getting old, so that became the goal for commoners (or sane people, depending on your perspective). To captivate and then taunt those of us who treat gaming goals as a replacement for failed ones in real-life, secondary objectives were added, with bonus prizes being the reward for accomplishing them. Here, you can unlock an extra level for each world. To do this, you have to find five flowers, 20 red coins and finish with 30 stars. Accomplishing this involves both great knowledge of levels along with equal skill as a player. The flowers are big items that often stick out like a sore thumb. The coins are a bit trickier as they are scattered amongst the regular ones strewn throughout every level, with only a slight reddish tint differentiating them. Still, after playing a level a couple times, most players will likely at least have a clue as to how to collect all of those goods.

The stars are a different story. You start with 10. If Yoshi gets hit by a monster or any hazard that doesn't result in instant death such as a bottomless pit or lava pool, he'll be stunned and Mario will get knocked away from him. While Mario and Yoshi are separated, those stars count down to zero, at which point Kamek's Magikoopa crew will kidnap the baby and you'll lose a life. If you recover him, you'll gradually regain stars until you reach 10 again. Unfortunately, you need 30. Collecting them isn't hard. Checkpoints give 10, a number of power-ups will drop groups of five and there are other ways to obtain a few here or there. However, you only regain stars up to the 10th one -- if you get hit while possessing more, any stars above that number lost while running down Mario don't magically return. This can make going for the perfect score of 100 pretty frustrating, especially when boss fights are added to the equation, and is probably why the only bonus level I've seen is the one in the first world.

Still, that's a minor annoyance that doesn't detract from the sheer fun of visiting the 48 stages one doesn't need to jump through hoops to experience. That's how I'd describe virtually all of this game's flaws, such as the ungodly crying noise Mario makes when knocked off Yoshi; as well as how a good number of bosses are nowhere near as fun to challenge as the levels leading to them were. Heck, my favorite boss fight was the one I could skip by egg-blasting it before Kamek appeared to make it super-powered and challenging. Yoshi's Island may not be perfect, but it provides pure gaming bliss, taking the tried-and-true Super Mario Brothers style of play and adding its own personalized touch. Just stay away from those Fuzzies. The withdrawal is pure agony!

Rating: 10/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (September 23, 2011)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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