torstai 12. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (1995)

Genre(s): Platform
Released: 1995
Available on: SNES
Developer(s): Nintendo
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Players: 1

Five years had passed since the release of the last traditional Mario platformer on a major home console. After all the sidesteps with racing and puzzle games, and whatnot, it was time for Nintendo to revive what the franchise originally stood for. Instead of simply starting over and creating the Super Mario Bros. of the 90's, the designers went way back to Mario's genesis, surprisingly casting the puffy plumber as a supporting character - a little baby in trouble - and making Yoshi the actual star of the game. Supported by state-of-the-art SuperFX powered graphics, incredible design and intense platformer action, Nintendo's risky endeavor once again made the Mario franchise one of the hottest in the world.

A lesson in parenting, in pastel colours

A stork carrying two babies over the sea is attacked by Kamek, Prince Bowser's heinous court magician, who is in search for playmates for his young master. Kamek is able to capture Baby Luigi, but the fallen Baby Mario disappears from his sight before he can catch him. Mario lands on Yoshi's Island, on the back of a green Yoshi, who tends to the baby before deciding to take the baby to his brother and deliver both children to their worried parents.

The new world map's simple and linear, but
it still looks damn awesome.
First off, the graphical style alone is incredible. The largely hand-drawn Yoshi's Island is easily one of the best looking games on the SNES, alongside the Donkey Kong Country series. The diverse level design is unparalleled, and the humongous, distinctly animated bosses look amazing. The minor polygon effects, the sprites and parallax scrolling... the SuperFX chip does way more than serves its purpose. The music is very good, too. There's a disappointingly small amount of different tunes, though. The stagnant music is the least of your problems when it comes to the game's sound. The sound of Baby Mario crying whenever he gets in trouble is slaughter of the ears in practice. Even muting your TV doesn't help - you hear the sound once, it will echo in your head every time you _see_ something happen to Mario. It's that horrible. Besides the crying, the game is pure audiovisual wizardry. Being one of the last relevant games on the SNES, Yoshi's Island seems to take advantage of the platform's full capacity.

This game is damn near totally separated from the series in every possible way when it comes to gameplay. The thing it has in common with the previous Super Mario World title, is that Yoshi still eats enemies. However, there are many enemies he simply can't eat, for reasons made obvious by the enemies' look or size. I'll get to the rest of Yoshi's abilities in a bit.

Everything's bigger and cuter. I guess we see
the world from Baby Mario's point of view.
So, for some reason Kamek has been put in charge of Prince Bowser's wellbeing, and for some reason, he's set up keep on Yoshi's Island. Yoshi's primary mission is to travel through the six regions of Yoshi's Island and reunite Mario with Luigi, who's being held at the Prince's keep, and kick both Kamek and Bowser's asses in the process. The first thing you might notice is that there is no HUD of any kind: no time limits, no scoreboard, nothing; everything's listed in the pause menu to keep you focused on the game itself, except for the Mario timer which shows up whenever you collect stars, lose hold of Mario (ughhh...) and stand still long enough. All of the regions have unique themes, but this is a purely thematic thing and doesn't affect the gameplay in any way - there are pretty much all sorts of stages in all regions. Underwater stages are completely ousted. Like in Super Mario Bros. 3 and in a sense, Super Mario World as well, each region has an enemy fort built in the middle of the region in addition to the actual castle, but the minibosses in these forts are all unique, and very often modified versions of vintage Mario enemies. Like I said, the bosses and the fights against them have incredible design. There's always quite a straightforward way to dispose of them, but it's way cool, and LOOKS way cool. I can't even begin to explain the boss fights in full. So, on the left we have a picture of an example of the layout of the linear world map. Each region is comprised of six stages, one fort and the main stronghold. In addition, if you're able to collect the full 100 points in each stage in one region, you unlock an extra bonus round, as well as an ultra-hard bonus stage as rewards for your hard work. You can change the control scheme and check your score from the menus on the right.

Next, I'll go over some minor abilities which will help your progress, but don't have much, if anything, to do with actual offense. The first is one which you'll absolutely need all the time - the hover jump. If Yoshi can't quite reach a ledge, the hover jump gives him a little boost and enables him to hover/glide for a short time. There are some locations which can't be fully explored, or even passed without the use of vehicular morphing. Upon touching a morph block, Yoshi turns into a car, train, bulldozer or plane. Lastly, since this is still a Mario game, the designers couldn't have made Mario completely helpless, so once Yoshi collects a rare Starman, Mario dons his classic cape from the first Super Mario World game and becomes Super Baby for a short while, during which the caffeine-filled infant can run everywhere - including on ceilings - collecting stuff. Once the Starman's effect wears off, Mario automatically climbs back on Yoshi's saddle and becomes his ignorant, loud self.

Because Mario is just ignorant and loud apart from the occasional switch into killer infant mode, Yoshi has to do everything in his power to protect his puny pal from all sort of danger. Eating enemies simply isn't enough, so of course you can use the traditional jump or the Ground Pound (a powerful thump), but even those don't work on all enemies. The best and most universal way to dispatch enemies is shooting eggs - or more rarely, melon seeds which I won't go over - at them. This method works on most enemies, some of them indirectly. Just try everything to succeed. The eggs have quite many uses, that's why they're often very scarce to come by, and you can carry only a limited amount of them. You can dig tunnels by shooting the eggs through soft soil, manipulate switches etc., even collect items by simply shooting at them. The targeting system is very simple; once you grab hold of an egg in your inventory, a crosshair appears, moving in all directions in Yoshi's current line of sight. You then have to push the button again at the correct time to nail whatever you're aiming at. The target shooting is actually pretty forgiving, even if the amount of eggs always isn't. Eggs are collected by eating enemies and breeding them into eggs (by pressing down on the D-Pad once you've devoured an enemy), and from special egg flowers and blocks. You will absolutely need the eggs if you want to keep Mario safe.

The underground is filled with strange creatures,
including these wandering ghosts.
Yoshi can't die by regular enemy contact. Every time you touch an enemy, you instead lose your hold on Mario (ughhhh, again), who will then drift away inside a bubble, crying, until you catch him. Whatever you're doing, you'll have to get him back in every way you can, that's your primary agenda. By default, you have ten seconds before Kamek's troops hear Mario's cries and come to claim him. What's beyond default, you ask? Maybe it's a good time to talk about the collectables and the whole new scoring system.

First up - stars. The practical use for these things is that they add seconds to the Mario timer. You can collect up to 30 stars, after which each question mark cloud, which would normally spew out stars upon breaking, will spew out coins - which still serve the same purpose they did in 1985. 30 stars equals to 30 seconds to save Mario. The timer always replenishes up to ten seconds. The accumulation and sustainability of the remaining 20 stars is totally up to you and your fraternal instinct. To get a full score in a stage, you need all 30 stars.

The 20 red coins are a bit trickier to find. They can be over, inside, behind and even under obstacles. They're very often found under poles that can be stomped to the ground with the Ground Pound, an ability which might take some time to master. They're also found hidden among regular coins; they're disguised as regulars, but once you learn to look for them, they're pretty easy to separate from the regular ones due to their faint reddish glow. They can also be seen held by flying Shyguys, who are on screen for a limited period of time, prompting you to shoot an egg at them or jump up and swallow them as fast as you can. At the point these flying bastards make their debut, collecting the coins gets preee-tty bitchy.

The five flowers can be found anywhere. They have a couple of practical uses, and yes, one is that you'll gain an extra life from every five flowers, but the more you collect them in one stage, you'll also get a better chance at a bonus round. There are many different bonus challenges in the game. Some of them are found within stages, and to get to these, you'll need a key, which is usually well hidden and will replace/fill one egg slot at your disposal until you find the lock corresponding to the key. These challenges usually involve a new, extremely annoying enemy character named Bandit and water balloons. Then, there are the mentioned bonus rounds given as rewards for top scores, as well as the bonus challenges which you'll be able to take if you hit a flower in the end roulette of each stage - collecting all five in the stage ups the odds. Some of these bonus challenges are Match and Scratch (familiar to anyone who's played Super Mario Bros. 3) and Roulette.

Jaws didn't want to do a children's game, so
they got this guy instead.
Overall, the game works and looks like a dream. There are certain types of stages I don't personally like at all. Luckily, there are not a lot of traditional slippery ice stages despite one of the regions being somewhat of an "Ice Land", but they're accompanied by the opposite: random stages in which the movement is slow as hell due to muddy ground. It's good to keep in mind, though, that every minor thing the game might lack is paid back in full with some major gameplay-related treats.

The game itself shouldn't be impossible to beat, but it will certainly take you some time. The final stages ain't easy by any measure. When you've finally beat the game, go ahead and attempt to get the best possible score in the game. If that doesn't strike you as being hard enough, proceed to the unlocked stages and prepare to get your balls offered to you for lunch. If you thought the Star Road stages in Super Mario World were the toughest ever, you were definitely passing judgement way too quick.

Yoshi's Island is different, yet beautiful and magnificent. One of the best Mario games and top platformers of all time, as well as one of SNES' finest masterpieces; a brilliant showcase of the console's power during the last truly glorious days of its lifespan.

Graphics : 9.7
Sound : 8.2
Playability : 9.3
Challenge : 9.3
Overall : 9.4


GameRankings: 95.20%

Nintendo Power ranks Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island #74 on their list of the Top 200 Nintendo Games of All Time.

The first Mario game that was not designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, who was working on Super Mario 64 at the time.

The game was re-released as the third Super Mario Advance title for the Game Boy Advance in 2002.

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti