Yoshi’s New Island Fails To Innovate, But Never To Charm

By Robert Ward . March 13, 2014 . 5:31pm

Whether your referent is Artoon’s incredibly bland Nintendo DS game or Takashi Tezuka’s Super Nintendo masterpiece, you’ve likely heard the name “Yoshi’s Island” before. Does Arzest ring a bell, though? How about T’s Music Co. LTD. and Masayoshi “Chami” Ishi? No? Masamichi Harada, the game’s art director?


I’d bet a red coin you haven’t. Getting some new blood in an old franchise is exciting, though, and with so many new faces coming together to revisit one of Nintendo’s classic platformers, it’s got to be something special, right?


…sort of. If I had to use an analogy, I’d say that Yoshi’s New Island is to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island as New Super Mario Bros. is to Super Mario Bros. I’d also say that Yoshi’s New Island is to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island as Kirby’s Epic Yarn is to Kirby’s Adventure. You gain some things, lose some things, and while the experience is nostalgic and leaves at least one lasting impression, you can’t help but feel like something was missing.


Let’s go over what Yoshi’s New Island isn’t missing first—a love-it-or-hate-it visual style. By now, everyone should know that 3DS screenshots simply lack some luster, especially if they aren’t captured via Miiverse, which appears to come with some sort of high-quality magical screen-capturing technology. After much debate I’ve settled on describing the character designs as “3D models drawn with colored pencil,” and the backgrounds range from sumi-e (ink wash painting) swamps to crayon scribble canyons.



What you’ve heard of the music may have fooled you, too. While the title theme is a kazoo-crazy arrangement you’d expect to hear at, say, the opening ceremony of a clown academy, the game actually features a pleasant musical palette. My favorite song, the overworld theme, is actually made up of six complimentary parts; as you make your way through each world, an instrument is added to the mix until it crescendos into a theme truly worthy of the “Yoshi” name. Check it out below.


As you’ll be aiming to collect 30 stars, 20 red coins, and 5 smiley flowers in each of the six worlds’ eight stages, there will be plenty of time for you to enjoy the audio-visual elements of Yoshi’s New Island. It’d be foolish to play into its childish façade, though, as the game will openly challenge the depth of your platforming ability. Don’t Fear the Spear will have you questioning your choice of hobby—and in that sense displays a degree of “the Tezuka Touch.”


The new experiences of Yoshi’s New Island,  like firing Mega Dozer Eggs (which decimate swaths of stone) and transformation bonus areas (they are separate areas here), are spread out more or less equally, and they’re always fun. Sure, the gyroscope control can be irritating, but I appreciated the break from platforming. Yoshi Stars will have you running up, down, and all around walls, too, as if you were Sonic the Hedgehog himself. I guess Arzest, made up of former Sega employees, couldn’t resist including a subtle nudge to their legacy.


Speaking of legacy, Yoshi’s New Island may stick a little too close to the blueprint of the original. From its story premise (Yoshi decides to help Mario find Luigi after being dropped from the beak of a stork) to its boss fights (Baby Bowser is more or less the same), Yoshi’s New Island simply doesn’t tap into the originality of its source material.


What happened to the Nintendo that had you battle against a frog’s uvula from inside its stomach? What happened to the Nintendo that trusted you to bounce eggs off of the water’s surface to hit a mutant Piranha Plant’s navel in the THIRD world? I want to see the part of Nintendo that wasn’t afraid of crazy, unorthodox ideas. I want to see a Nintendo that isn’t afraid to issue a challenge instead of literally giving the player wings.


In fact, that’s what it was—that “something missing”. Yoshi’s New Island replaces that unbridled sense of creativity with an unbridled sense of charm.


In the same way that Paper Mario 64 felt like walking through a pop-up book, Yoshi’s New Island feels like walking through a book a child drew just for you. Sure, it’s no masterpiece, and it can feel unsightly at times, but at the same time, it’s so damn endearing.


Food for thought:


1. Kamek plays a larger role in this game than in the previous one. Instead of having two battles with different magically-enhanced enemies, you always face off with Kamek in each world’s mid-boss stage. Don’t worry, though! These battles are a lot of fun.


2. It took me just over 10 hours to beat Yoshi’s New Island without hunting for secrets.


3. If you collect all of the smiley flowers, you’ll have a chance to win some “Yoshi Medals” in the roulette at the end of each stage. These will unlike vehicle stages that let you earn extra lives…that’s about it.

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  • So… it is a new entry for the sake of being a new entry? Gotcha.

  • What kind of nutjob was disappointed with Epic Yarn?

    • Robgoro

      Epic Yarn was charming, but for people to whom Kirby’s Adventure was the standard, I can see how it might be a bit disappointing. You couldn’t die in a level, after all.

      • 하세요

        That was my main gripe. No death penalty except for the score.

        Game wasn’t bad, just disappointing for what many expected.

        • I don’t get that, though. Why do people expect so little from sequels? Return to Dreamland was basically a level pack for Superstar, and Triple Deluxe looks much the same. Epic Yarn was my first Kirby game, and it surprised me how similar the others are.

          Game & Wario got bad reviews, except for the Gamer minigame, which was essentially the GBA WarioWare game.

          Do fans and reviewers really want $50 DLC?

          • Robgoro

            Be careful; Epic Yarn wasn’t received by fans or critics badly, and that goes for its visual style too. It’s not an underrated nor under-appreciated game in any sense. Anyone who pulls the “Nintendo just keeps rehashing X” isn’t bothering to look elsewhere in the market – it happens everywhere. With Nintendo, though, I feel disappointed when their new products feel like they build up to one that was released almost 20 years ago. Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, for example, did away with day and night for no reason.

            Yoshi’s New Island is fun, I just wish that it modeled itself after SMW2: Yoshi’s Island and not Yoshi’s Island DS.

          • 하세요

            Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’ll automatically be good. I’m not saying I was upset that they changed the formula, I just didn’t like as a whole.

            Mass Attack was cool to me.

      • I regularly see complaints that Nintendo’s churning out the same stuff over and over, and when they don’t, the fans/reviewers/etc are disappointed. The audience is impossible to please.

      • Altumn

        I don’t see how the death thing was the big disappointment. What I didn’t like was that you couldn’t eat/transform, that is what makes Kirby well… Kirby. But honestly that game is one of my favorites. And sure you couldn’t die, but trying to keep all your beads was a challenge on its own.

        • TiamatNM

          me either, especially since the challenge isn’t really the draw of kirby games in the first place anyway imo. they tend to be really easy

    • Chaos_Knight

      And speaking of yarn, we still haven’t heard anything about Yoshi’s Yarn.

      • Slickyslacker

        I keep nearly forgetting that that game supposedly exists.

        …Maybe at E3?

    • Slickyslacker

      Epic Yarn wasn’t taken for what it is: an entirely pure and fun game devoid of any difficulty. There is no disappointment to be had when playing the game, and it’s only goal is to satisfy the player by its simplistic gameplay and myriad collectibles.

      I suppose it just fueled all of the “Nintoddlers” insults.

    • God

      Well, i’m the kind of guy who likes to play nigh impossible games on the highest the difficulties just for the sake of the challange, even if it takes me forever to complete them, however, i still have a weak spot for platformers like kirby, that while not very hard, are entretaining, Epic Yarn was to me, not a game, since you couldn’t even lose and maybe it helped that the spanish narrator that i was forced to endure made it sound like a puppet show for 2 year olds… It still was kind of fun, but to me, it’s the worst kirby game.

  • 하세요

    Good to know. I want to get it, but something was just telling me not to get it day 1. I still do want to down the line as it’ll feel weird not playing a Yoshi’s Island that’s out. As whack as Yoshi’s Island DS was, I managed to finish it.

    I just hope the price of this ACTUALLY drops, unlike Yoshi’s Island DS that was $39.99 for the longest time.

  • anthony apduhan

    I wonder what Sakurai is gonna do with Yoshi in Super Smash Bros 4? Maybe he’ll add the chopper form for Yoshi.

    • He might add Baby Mario along with Yoshi, just to anger those who got PTSD from Mario Kart: Double Dash.

      • God

        What was wrong with Double Dash?

        • God, you should know by now the power manifested by the combined forces of Baby Mario and Yoshi in Double Dash..

          • God

            Wait, Wait, WAAAAAAAAIT!! YOU MOTHERFUCKER!!! You could pair up baby mario with yoshi? How?

          • It’s Double Dash. You can mix and match any pair of characters. You were never forced to use the obvious pairs, you know.

          • God

            Wait, really? So i cleared everything that could be ever cleared without knowing that?

          • Apparently so. You might wanna play the game again, then. And see for yourself

  • DragKudo

    Wonder when they are going to another Yoshi Story

  • ThatGuy3190_7

    Am I the only one who does not like gyroscope feature? Sure not a lot of 3DS games use the feature, but to me it’s unique but takes away a game’s enjoyability (if that’s even a word).

    • mikanko

      Gyroscope is complained about pretty heavily by some of the lukewarm reviews the game has received so far. I would hazard you’re not alone.

    • kthanxyousuck

      I think it depends on if it’s really needed in gameplay or just kind of an unnecessary hurdle. I liked the gyroscope featured in Mario and Luigi Dream Team (especially the Luiginary ball) even if they were frustrating for certain moves. This doesn’t really seem like a game that would need them in my opinion.

      • ThatGuy3190_7

        The gyroscope feature was especially annoying in Sonic Lost World for the 3DS. I wish there was a feature or option to turn it off.

  • Rogerrmark

    I miss the bosses from the original…although I’m probably getting it. Looks way better than the DS one.

    Also, isn’t Yoshi kinda poorly animated?

    He almost never blinks. Both Yoshi’s Story and Island’ Yoshis had way more frames.

    • Robgoro

      Yeah…he doesn’t have any legs.

  • Adam Elbahtimy

    When Nintendo is being creative and wacky, doing new and weird things, people just want them to do the familiar. When they are doing the familiar, people demand weird and wacky and new. Why don’t we just settle on the fact that they are, in fact, very good at doing both of those things, and do in fact do both of those things regularly, and that both of those things have an audience, an appeal, a market, and even a value to the medium.

    • God

      When was the last time nintendo did something wacky that wasn’t jut an idea being revived from an older game?

      • Adam Elbahtimy

        How about Steel Diver? How about Dillon’s Rolling Western? How about Pushmo? How about Sakura Samurai? How about Spotto? How about Cubello? How about You, Me, and the Cubes? How about Snowpack Park? How about any of the very clever Street Pass Plaza games? How about Kersploosh? How about Harmoknight? How about The Wonderful 101? How about Game & Wario? How about Flingsmash? I’m even gonna say Kid Icarus: Uprising, since it didn’t actually have anything to do with the original Kid Icarus mechanically. Nintendo Land was actually also extremely wacky and clever, although it did somewhat use past games, at least visually. They have made plenty of very quirky, very interesting games in between the Marios and Zeldas. Just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.

        • God

          Meh, most of those you mentioned don’t even hit 6/10 on my Whacky-O-Meter… And how was Kid Icarus Whacky or Quircky?

  • GH56734

    T’s Music Co. LTD. ?

    I think they were involved with RED and Sega on Super Tempo for the Sega Saturn (a crazy innovating game).
    By the way; Nintendo should collaborate with RED … a sequel to Oriental Blue, for example :P

  • Slickyslacker

    I picked up Yoshi’s Island DS a while back, but got stuck and frustrated early in. Maybe I’ll get this eventually to give it another crack. It seems about on par with Yoshi’s Story.

  • kthanxyousuck

    I’ve never really been able to get into the Yoshi games. Something about the sound he makes just drives me insane. But I actually do like the drawing-like graphics.

  • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

    While i do hate the word that some game stay the same and nothing changes, i also feel that a game which stays the same for too long is not going to be a good thing.T_T

    It is a huge dilemma for many companies who had developed franchise with their own unique legacy which is not only Nintendo here is facing.

    For example, we had people who always said that Nintendo game stays the same too much as they cling to their past for all their series and it is not good at all. But there are also fans who hated any changes which happen to their favorite series here.

    It is correct sometimes. fun is just not enough.T_T but on the other hand. No fun is also not good.T_T

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