Yoshisaur T. Munchakoopas first appeared in 1990’s Super Mario World for the SNES. Yoshi had already made a few appearances in Mario spinoffs and his own puzzle game on NES when Nintendo decided to give the lovable dinosaur his own time in the spotlight. At this point, Donkey Kong was already back in full swing with Rare’s Donkey Kong Country. Nintendo knew they’d need a trick to pull, if they wanted to keep Yoshi relevant. Nintendo decided that their Yoshi platformer would take advantage of the Super FX chip. Allowing for tons of different effects like squashing and stretching. The art style they chose was of a kids coloring book. They wanted to get as far away from Donkey Kong as they could. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island launched in August of 1995. I can’t wait to jump into what supposedly makes this game so special.
A stork was flying over the titular Yoshi’s Island carrying two twin baby brothers. History does not yet know the name of newborns Mario and Luigi. An evil Magikoopa, and parental guardian to the future Koopa king Bowser, snatches young Luigi out of the stork’s claws. In shock, he drops Baby Mario to the surface of Yoshi’s Island. Baby Mario lands among a pack of yoshies. They vow to get the baby’s brother back, and get them both home to their parents safely. Thus beginning the exciting life of gamings biggest icon and a bunch of useless Mario Kart roster-filler racers.
Yoshi controls quite differently from Mario. He has a flutter jump, can eat enemies, and is capable of reaching much larger heights without any power-ups. Baby Mario is constantly on Yoshi’s back. If you get hit, Baby Mario will enter a bubble and begin to cry. It is the most grading sound in video games. Please, for the love of Gabe Newell, do not let this stupid baby keep crying. You’ll try to get him back before you run out of stars. Which are basically your HP. The worst part about Baby Mario is that the government doesn’t even write Yoshi a tax break for taking care of him! I don’t think Yoshi cares much about that though.
Yoshi’s goal is to simply get to the level exit. Yet there are a few power-ups you’ll find along the way. You won’t, really, get anything like Mario normally has, but you’ll get enough to get you through. Yoshi will sometimes run into temporary transformations! Allowing him to be a helicopter, train, and some other odd things. The most prominent power-up are the watermelon variants. Which gives Yoshi the ability to spit seeds out at enemies, shoot fire breath, or shoot ice breath depending on which melon he eats.
Mario isn’t totally useless in this department either. Sometimes you will find a star that will transform Baby Mario into Super Mario! Super Mario can run on walls, ceilings, and is completely invincible. Assuming you don’t fall down a pit, that is.
Yoshi will run into a number of bosses. These were always the most creative parts of the game. Most of them are regular enemies transformed by Kamek’s magic. They all have a unique way of defeating them that utilizes their enemy type to the absolute fullest. A few feel downright unfair for newcomers and smaller children though. There’s even quite a bit of fanservice within the boss fights. Hookbill the Koopa is just your average Koopa walking home from Wendy’s. His day was fine until Kamek turned him into a big Koopa based off of the original Mario Bros. arcade game!
The level design is fine. I felt there were too many gimmicks introduced that weren’t given enough time to grow. The game starts off way too easy but then puts you through a severe difficulty spike. Tons of one-hit kills obstacles and GOTCHA moments in later stages. Later stages in general felt like they dragged on far too long and just weren’t fun.
Yoshi’s Island is still a visually beautiful game. The team decided to make their game stand out from Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario RPG. They succeeded to the highest degree. There’s a lot of moments that simply exist to show off FX chip tech, but they aren’t too annoying within gameplay themselves. I just couldn’t get into the soundtrack for this game. I don’t even remember any of it other than the final boss theme and main track.
Yoshi’s Island is a decent game. Pretty mediocre for Mario standards I’d say. This game spun off into a wonderful side series that, while it has had its ups and downs, has only gotten better from here. This is passable definitely, but I don’t see myself ever returning to it. It’s probably a bit of me seeing everything this game tried to do in the future. If you have Nintendo Switch Online, and are looking for a 6-hour time-kill, Yoshi’s Island isn’t a bad pick. If this game didn’t do it for you, but you’re a huge fan of the Mario or DKC franchises, I’d recommend checking out Yoshi’s Wooly World on either the Wii U or 3DS.
Yoshi has been in Smash since the very beginning! Ironically, he’s become repeatedly one of the last fighters revealed for new Smash games. This has even led some to speculate that he’d be cut from the game at times. This has never happened, but it’d be an interesting world to imagine. Yoshi is labeled as his own series in Smash, but he’s never had that much content. Yoshi has always relied on the Mario franchise to fill itself in. Nobody seems to mind this decision, and I certainly don’t either.
Yoshi in Smash is one of the closest represented fighters from the original game. Due to how early it was, some characters from 64 now feel incredibly outdated. I’d argue some characters still need massive overhauls and updates, but Yoshi isn’t one of these characters. He still has all of his natural moves, and even a few new ones just for Smash! I could do with a few more references or a cameo of Poochy, but this Yoshi certainly feels great the way he is.