maanantai 1. elokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Yoshi's Story (1997)

GENRE(S): Platform
RELEASED: December 1997
AVAILABLE ON: N64, Wii Virtual Console
DEVELOPER(S): Nintendo
PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo

Yoshi's Story stands as one of the few Mario-related titles that Shigeru Miyamoto was not involved with in any way; instead, the project was led by the experienced trio of director Hideki Konno, producer Takashi Tezuka and composer Kazumi Totaka. In the midst of many other 64-bit sequels to 8- and 16-bit hits, the development of Yoshi's Story began in late 1996. This direct sequel to the masterpiece known as Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island naturally conjured up some great expectations, but also very mixed critical reception. At least your kids will like it.

No sane person can be this happy

Yoshi's Island is a happy place, but not by itself. The perpetual joy of its inhabitants is dictated by the Super Happy Tree. Prince Bowser grows agitated and jealous of the happiness of the Yoshis and has his court magician turn the whole island into a storybook. To put a cap on his evil deed, he steals the Super Happy Tree to ruin the Yoshis' mood. Six eggs survive the ordeal. Once hatched, the six brave baby Yoshis embark on a journey to the end of the storybook, reverse the spell and retrieve the Super Happy Tree.

Yoshi's Story is a game I have wanted to return to for years. I was just a little shy of 14 when the game was originally released, and I was crazy about Yoshi's Island for the SNES; it was one of my favourite games in the world at that time - it still is, but back then it ranked in the top five. Yoshi's Story was weird, and even more childish than its predecessor, but it was cool 'cause it sported better graphics and smoother gameplay than most N64 games (the 2D really works!), and I guess that even if I was a bad-to-the-bone 14-year old headbanger who spent all his non-gaming time either making loud music or comparing chicks' boobs and asses, I still had somewhat of a soft spot for Nintendo's cute ways of expression. Fast forward to 2011. I'm a calm, quiet 27-year old headbanger who spends all his non-gaming time dreaming of having a family (with a dog), going to work every morning at 6 A.M., paying bills and appreciating the small things in life... and I can't fucking stand this game.

"You shall not pass" is not a very believable
statement from a cross-eyed elephant moping
around in his underwear.
As far as the graphics go, we have to get one thing straight: it's technical ecstasy. The framerate is absolutely awesome, and in my honest opinion, 2D games on the N64 look better than the 3D games. Less polygons, smooth textures, more delivery. On the other hand, Yoshi's Story is so darn cute it's hard to watch. Not as hard as it is to listen to, however. There's a credited voice cast, whose names in the credits give a whole new meaning to the saying "for the glory of nothing". Kazumi Totaka does Yoshi's irritating voice that has become standard in the Mario series in the later years, and I guess there are some words there in some sense, but the other characters just make some very weird, random noises. The Yoshis' singing between levels is absolutely horrible (M.Y.M. horrible), and the music is very annoying and repetitive, not even close to the Nintendo or Mario (same difference) standard.

The gameplay of Yoshi's Story seems very similar to that of Yoshi's Island; there are a lot of the same moves and characters. There's just one important difference that affects just about everything: Mario is not in this game. First, it seems like a blessing - after all, we all remember the worst part of the SNES classic, which was the sound of Mario crying. Then, it hits us like a blitz of lightning: the sensical thought of what's left after Mario's gone. Is Yoshi's Story a simple platformer in which you just need to run through the level in the most traditional way imaginable, then? No. You have to eat different kind of fruit and vegetables, 30 of them to be exact, to beat a level. It's as simple as that. You can do this in five minutes per level, and you only need to beat six levels to beat the game. To put it simply, eat 30 apples, and you're done - the level's over. The Yoshis are one step happier, and you can move on to the next chapter of the storybook. Sure, there are a few boss fights, but this is the primary idea and it carries on to the abrupt end of the game.

A three-headed Bone Dragon, now that's a
completely different ball game.
To have a smooth and fun gameplay experience, you need way more eggs in this game than the game is willing to let you have. There are some innovative and fun level designs, but since the one true idea of the game is to eat a lot of stuff in contrast to the first game which had a whole bulk of different goals, it starts to repeat itself in record time. The audio from the rim of hell removes the last little bit of comfort from this experience. I didn't think for one second that this nostalgic trip was going to be exactly fun, but I remembered Yoshi's Story to be a much more entertaining game. Let your kids go at it, but for the sake of your own sanity, leave the room while they're doing it.

As said, Yoshi's Story is very easy, so it's suitable for kids, and of course, adult Mario completists. Finish it once, and you can safely check it off the list - end of story. Even though there are some bonus goals, I believe you'll see very quickly that they're not worth your time.

Yoshi's Story starts off nice before the repetition kicks in, the controls are good and the game is a decent tool to pass (a small amount of) time, but in the end it's one of the dullest major platformers in the whole Mario franchise. Moreover, it definitely fails to live up to its predecessor. I think that, at least, is one thing we can all agree on. I've noticed that a lot of people, even those who own or used to own a Nintendo 64, have forgotten all about the game's existence. Can't say I'm too heartbroken.

SOUND : 5.0


GameRankings: 62.74%

The first level was directly ported to the Game Boy Advance and used as a technical demo for the handheld in 2000. A full GBA version of the game never came to be.

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