N64 Review: Yoshi's Story
Review by: Namek (namek@sm128c.com)

Game Info

 System: N64
 ESRB: Everyone
 Genre: Fighting
 # of Players: 1
 Size: 128 Megabits
 Developer: HAL Laboratories
 Publisher: Nintendo

 Controller Pak: No
 Rumble Pak: Yes
 Transfer Pak: No

 Release Date:
 US: Mar 10, 1998
 EU: Oct 21, 1998
 JP: Dec 21, 1997

Screenshots:

Screenshot

Screenshot

Final Score:
7.0/10

This game should be plastered with a notice sticker:

WARNING:
NOT INTENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES!

Actually, that may be a bit of exaggeration, but it should be clearly understood by everyone that Yoshi's Story is targeted to younger gamers. Now, is it just me, or is there something a bit ironic in hearing grown men complain that the latest video game starring their favorite dinosaur is ***GASP*** made for kids?!

Anyway, once you accept the idea that this is not Bloody Bikini Beach Massacre Part 3, Yoshi's Story delivers a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Ahead Cute Factor 10, Mr. Sulu!

Yoshi's Story follows on the heels of the highly successful Super Nintendo classic Yoshi's Island. However, this game is not intended to be a sequel to the revered Super Mario World series. Yoshi's Story is not Super Mario World 3, although the game incorporates many of the same trademarked platform gameplay elements of running, jumping on enemies, tossing eggs, and grabbing power-ups. And this time around, there are (for better or worse) a few new twists.

Rather than travel in a linear fashion through each level to an ultimate destination or goal, Yoshi's Story demands that players wander its worlds in search of "Super Happy Tree Fruit." As we all know, Yoshis will eat just about anything, and they particularly love Super Happy Tree Fruit. Gulping down the stuff will positively influence the Yoshi's mood; gulping 30 will advance Yoshi on to the next level. The game might thus be subtitled: The Search for Fruit.

There are six different colored Yoshis, and each variety of Yoshi has a favorite fruit. Part of the challenge of Yoshi's Story is to locate and swallow only the best fruit. Completing a level by locating 30 melons, for example, will unlock certain secrets of the game. Truly savvy players may discover the ultra-rare White and Black Yoshis.

There's an unfortunate problem with emphasizing fruit-munching, however: it's simply not as fun or exciting as the experience of obtaining goals and seeing new levels. So while the mythical fruit quest adds a unique twist to gameplay, it's not necessarily a welcome or addictive one. It's really quite easy to achieve the 30-fruit goal and advance to the next level. And once you have seen all of the levels, much of the gameplay interest invariably fades.

The goal of Yoshi's Story is to play through each of its six "pages" (levels). There are six chapters with four pages each, for a total of 24 different levels. However, rather than forcing gamers to complete these levels consecutively, Yoshi's Story allows gamers to merely select one page from each chapter. As a result of this design technique, it is possible to "complete" Yoshi's Story in only a couple of hours. Seeing everything in the game, however, will take much longer.

The graphics in Yoshi's Story are excellent. Although 2D, the characters and backgrounds certainly posses a depth that approximates 3D. The Yoshis themselves are bursting with the personality that has proven irresistible to kids of all ages around the globe.

Equally compelling are the background environmental textures. Nintendo artisans have lovingly crafted backgrounds that resemble materials such as denim, cardboard, and the like. As with many in-house Nintendo titles, Yoshi's Story certainly is a hallmark of innovative graphic design.

The sound in Yoshi's Story is also first-rate. Although older gamers will wince in pain at the Yoshis ultra-cute between-level songs, no one can deny that this cartridge delivers compelling audio. Yoshis assorted jumping noises and whelps are smoothly integrated into gameplay, and the music is generally crisp and thoughtfully composed. Nintendo has once again demonstrated that top quality audio is possible on the cartridge medium.

But despite having many irresistible qualities, Yoshi's Story ultimately falls a bit short of expectations. If you are looking for a cleverly designed state-of-the-art 2D platformer, look no further. But if you are seeking long-term challenge in the vein of the legendary Super Mario World, be warned: Yoshi's Story may not hold your attention for very long.

Perhaps the best advice is to simply relax and accept the game on its own merits. Yoshi's Story is undeniably brimming with personality and fun. Even the most hardened DOOM and Quake players will laugh out loud at some of the Yoshis' endearingly cute behavior.

-- Namek (namek@sm128c.com)

Bottom Line: Without a doubt, Yoshi's Story makes a welcome addition to the N64 library. Let's all enjoy this game for now, and perhaps that "adult-oriented" Yoshi game will come along someday. ;-)