Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island may not have been my first videogame, but it was the game that single-handedly changed the way I viewed gaming.
Up until that point, playing games had just been an activity to pass the time, not necessarily something I considered to be a hobby of mine.
For some reason, it was Yoshi’s Island that made me realize how much I adored games and also revealed which aspects of games in particular made them so appealing to me beyond the obvious “fun factor.”
Hit the jump to see how one fateful Super Nintendo game was able to have such a large impact on my childhood, as well as how it went on to affect my taste in games.
When I thought of videogame bosses as a kid, the first thing that would always come to my mind was Bowser. He’s arguably the most iconic boss character ever, even if the process of defeating has always been incredibly straightforward (in the original Super Mario Bros., anyway).
While I’m obviously discounting many games that came out in the time between Super Mario Bros. and Yoshi’s Island were released, I didn’t own an NES until years after its launch, and as a result, missed out on a huge portion of the system’s library as a young gamer growing up in the 90s.
Naturally, the epic boss fights in Yoshi’s Island amazed the crap out of me back then, as I had never seen anything like them prior to that game. Not only were these bosses massive in size, but they were also completely insane in appearance and more often than not, required the player to think outside of the box in order to win the power struggle.
When was the last time you killed a frog from inside of its stomach, or embarrassed an enemy to death by destroying its clothes with eggs? Yeah, this game was seriously twisted, but I loved it for that reason.
Eventually, this newly found obsession with fighting bosses caused me to daydream at school. As my teacher would be droning on about God knows what, I’d be sitting at my desk, pretending to be paying attention while in reality, I was really thinking about what lied ahead in Yoshi’s Island.
Believe it or not, that was the first time I had ever truly thought about a game when it wasn’t being displayed on a TV screen directly in front of me. From that point on, games were no longer just an activity, or something fun to do during my free time; games had become much more meaningful to me.
This was the beginning of gaming’s transition from pastime to lifestyle for me.
You didn’t think I was going to make this entire article about boss battles, did you? I hope not, for there’s plenty more to discuss about Yoshi’s Island than that. Let’s take the level design, for example.
There was such a variety in environments that no two levels felt the same. The game’s unique visual flair combined with its killer soundtrack resulted in pure gaming bliss.
Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy? It’s only one of my favorite levels of all time.
Yoshi’s Island also unleashed my love for collecting things. If your memory is a little hazy, there were red coins and giant flowers hidden throughout the game’s vast number of levels, and you would be given a score out of 100 based on how many you had gathered.
Upon my first play-through, I had only two objectives: get to the end as quickly as possible, and obtain a perfect score on all levels.
The first one was fairly easy, thanks to the game’s nontraditional health system. Yoshi could be hit by an infinite number of enemies without losing a life, unless the player didn’t capture Baby Mario in a timely manner.
However, there were a few exceptions to this, like spikes, bottomless pits, and lava. Luckily, this mechanic allowed Yoshi’s Island to be enjoyable, but not so forgiving that the gameplay became stale.
Gathering all of the game’s hidden goodies, however, was a whole different story. To this day, I still haven’t managed to get one-hundred percent completion in the game, but that “collect everything” mindset has stayed with me all of these years.
People bitch about games like Banjo Tooie and Donkey Kong 64 because they make the player collect too many things, but I for one will never grow tired of a collectathons, and I owe it all to Yoshi’s Island.