For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.
After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:
I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."
We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.
Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.
Without further ado, here is:
7- Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island:
First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
I can't say I was a big fan of Yoshi Platformers before. Yoshi Story was OK, but I didn't like the DS Yoshi Island, and Yoshi's New Island is one of the worst games Nintendo ever made. Which is why I was skeptical about Yoshi's Island despite its glowing reputation.
It turns out that I was very wrong. Yoshi's Island is a great game, one which legacy is not at all reinforced by the later games in the series. Yet, even if those games were good, they would be competing against a great game.
"This is a story about baby Mario and Luigi"
Once upon a time, a stork was delivering the baby Mario brothers to their parents. Foretelling that at least one of the two would throw a spinner into the future plans of Bowser, Kamek, his trusty mage took it upon himself to kidnap the two.
Since, we are playing this game, you can assume that at least one of the kids wasn't kidnapped. Indeed, Mario fell into an Island inhabited by Yoshi's, those adorable dinosaur creatures, and through his baby talk, managed to convince them to help him save his brother.
The catch this time is that Mario is a baby, and can't do much by himself, which is why the Yoshi's will need to pull their resources and do most of the hardwork. Meanwhile, Kamek's goons are searching the island for baby Mario, and you will need to protect him.
By controlling the Yoshi's, you are basically getting a much different experience than your usual Mario game. The platforming rules are different, and as such the experience itself. For instance, every time you get damaged, baby Mario get's knocked out and floats in a bubble. Then a timer sets, and you need to grab him again before it runs out, or you lose a life.
Otherwise, the game is centered on having large varied levels, and a lot of things to collect. The levels are larger than Super Mario World, and some are significantly labyrinthine. To encourage traversing through these levels, Nintendo smartly included two collectible items for all level. Each level has five flowers to collect, which are usually hidden in each level, as well as 20 red coins. Unfortunately, the coins are not actually red until you get them. Otherwise, they are only slightly different than regular coins.
Also, for the perfectionists, there is the small stars to consider. Stars are what keeps the timer from getting to 0, and you always have a minimum of 10. However, you can collect up to 30, and if you never lose baby Mario, you get the honor of finishing the level with 30 stars.
These collectibles encourage replay value, as some would want to finish a level with a perfect score. Or course, you can ignore them if you want, but they are needed to unlock the bonus stages.
Mario Crying Sound: -2
Replay Value: +2
"Timing is all, and aim true, measure the angle, and win do"
The two central mechanics of Yoshi's Island is the Yoshi flutter, and the egg throwing. Immediately, the flutter changes the way you move around the game. By holding the jump button, Yoshi is able to slow down his decent, as well as gain some air. If you have the room, you can flutter infinitely, but you will always keep going descending despite Yoshi's best efforts.
As for the egg throwing, it is Yoshi's method of attack. By swallowing enemies, Yoshi can turn them to eggs that he (she!) can launch at will. These eggs ricochet of surface, which means that you can angle a shot and use eggs like you would a billiard ball.
The game manages to use these two mechanics extremely well. By hiding collectibles, and by world design, the player must use the flutter jump well, and throw eggs in an inventive way.
What makes it fresh for the entire game is not only the solid mechanical design, but also the varied levels. For instance, one level introduces chomp rocks, which are round objects that you can push around to stomp enemies. Then another level tasks you with moving one chomp rock through most of the level, which suddenly introduces a puzzle element to the game, since there are many obstacle in your path.
Without much exaggeration, I can say that each level felt unique. Whether you are suddenly skating down a snowy slope, or running around a mini-metroidvania level, there is always something new and interesting going on.
In addition to the regular platforming, there are some powerups that allow Yoshi or Mario to do different things. For instance, there are a number of transformations for Yoshi, which shake up gameplay a bit. However, the star of the show (wait for the pun) is reserved for Mario in the form of a super star (now you got it). This star transforms baby Mario into super baby Mario, and it adds a little adrenaline rush to the game. Its overpowered, which is what makes it cool.
Varied Levels: +7
Solid Unique Mechanics: +3
Cool Powerups: +2
"What kind of Gween donkey is dat?"
For its entire history, Nintendo has always loved experimenting with their visual design. Super Mario World was very different from Super Mario Bros. 3, and they have not revisited that style since. Also on the SNES, we got the modern looking Donkey Kong Country, the polygonal nightmare that was Starfox, and 3D isometric hybrid in Super Mario RPG.
Perhaps to evoke the childhood o baby Mario, Nintendo used a crayon look for Yoshi's Island. Besides everything looking like it was colored in crayon, the color actually moved as if it was being colored a the spot.
It creates a timeless, unique look for the game, which coupled with the great character and enemy design, as well as great animation, makes one of the best looking game on the system. By being visually inventive, and with great variety, the game always looks pretty and interesting.
Take the bosses for example. Not only are they large and menacing, they also move with a deliberate comic motion. All over, you get shy guys doing a little dance with their spears, or the annoying monkey enemies, well, monkeying around.
However, the music is not as varied as the graphics. Unlike the annoying soundtrack of Yoshi's New Island or Yoshi's Story, this soundtrack is great. In fact, the underground music is one of Koji Kondo's best tracks in my opinion. All over, the music selection is great, but is limited.
I think there are less than 18 tracks in the game, which means the music repeats a lot. Thankfully is is very good music unlike the future Yoshi games.
Graphical Style: +4
Limited Tracks: -3
Yoshi's Island is by far one of the best platformers of all time, and I am saying that with the accumulated knowledge about platformers since it war first released, until now. This is a game that consistently manages to bring something new to the table every level. So much, that I will need to double my word count to even come close of explaining everything the game does.
Whether you want to relax and collect things at your own pace, or you want to rush and beat the game with speed. This is a mechanically sound game, that will continue to surprise and delight every time you play it.
Oh, and I didn't mention that Yoshi also takes psychedelic drugs during this adventure. Who would give parenting rights to this "Gween donkey".
1- Always keep some eggs ready for use.
2- To unlock the secret level, you need to get a 100 score in every level.
3- If you are having trouble having full stars at the end, consider saving the +stars items until the end.
4- Be curious and search everywhere for that last collectible.
5- Don't underestimate the flutter jump, you jump past vast distances with clever use.
This is it, I am going to play the final game next. Yoshi's Island was a great preparation for the grand finale, but now, after nearly 4 years, I am finally going to close this series for good. And what better way to end it than by playing the highest rated SNES game by most outlets.
Of course, I am talking about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which is #1 in the IGN list. Even though I am a Zelda fan, I did not actually play this game before, and here I am, more than 20 years after its release, I am going to play and review it.
It has been a great ride, and I am looking forward to finally ending it before the year is out. Hopefully.
For Previous SNES game Reviews:
For More Screenshots: