Making his debut in the classic Super Nintendo game Super Mario World, it was clear to most fans that Mario’s loyal, green dinosaur was due a game of his very own—and a year later, Yoshi was released for both the NES and Game Boy (1991 in Japan; 1992 everywhere else).
The NES version of the game was released in 2007 for the Wii on Virtual Console, and then re-released in 2011 on the 3DS as an exclusive for members of the Nintendo Ambassador program… but in August 2012, it appeared in the eShop in Japan, followed by a 2013 release in February (North America) and forthcoming in May (Europe). It’ll also release on the Wii U this June.
So, now everyone can enjoy Yoshi! Okay, maybe not everyone. It all depends on how you feel about falling block puzzler games.
Every important character needs a falling block game, right? The selling point, however, is the spin that makes the game unique from any other falling block puzzler… which is a lot of pressure to put on a game from 1991. That said, Yoshi is a game that requires strategic thinking and some outside-the-box manoeuvring in order to build up the kind of combos that’ll achieve the highest points.
The aim is to sandwich tiles in between two halves of an egg, so that when the egg squishes everything in its path to join halves, you’ll end up with a huge swath of points—and Yoshi, sitting the in right corner of the screen judging your every move, will get a little bit of meat on his belly.
As strange as it sounds, that’s literally what’s happening here. Just like a standard falling block game, tiles drop from the top of the screen and travel down toward the bottom. Your controls focus on Mario at the bottom of the screen, where you can control the plates in his hands. So, if a Goomba falls on the right side of the screen and you need him on the left side of the screen (where he can fall on another Goomba to make a pair match and earn points), you swap plates as needed to move the correct plate underneath the falling Goomba tile.
Match two, and they disappear, easy as that. It’s the egg halves that really make the difference.
If the bottom half of an egg drops down, it’ll just sit wherever it lands—like a normal tile. However, once a top half of an egg lands on a column with the bottom half, the top will destroy all the tiles in its path to match up with the bottom half. All those tiles in between will earn you points! And, a cute little Yoshi hatches from the egg. Awwww.
Really, you’re able to choose whether you want to do things the easy way—just matching up tiles—or the right way, using the egg halves to add an extra element of excitement and difficulty to the game. There’s always a chance that you won’t receive the top half of an egg before your stacked columns hit the top of the screen, ending the game—so there’s an inherent risk in making use of the eggs.
Yoshi has two versions of single-player, and one two-player mode.
The first option in single-player is an endless-cycle mode, where the tiles will drop continually until one of your columns hits the top of the screen and you curse the day you downloaded the game. Naturally. The second option is stage-based, with the goal of clearing all the tiles from the board in order to move onto the next stage. Once all tiles are cleared, you’re treated to a quick clip of Mario riding his trusty dino steed across a field—and Yoshi having a quick snack.
Of course, all falling block games are more fun when played with a friend, and thankfully Download Play makes this possible. For just a few dollars spent on this title, it’s worth the half hour or so that you’ll use to battle your friend and curse at each other (and the game).
Falling block puzzlers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea—and how long you’ll be able to stand playing Yoshi is going to depend on your standard level of enjoyment for these types of games.
Some players will undoubtedly love the endless cycle of falling tiles, matching egg halves, and rotating stacks, but there’s really nothing else to occupy or challenge the player. Tetris fans will know the drill—the game speeds up as you progress—but in Yoshi, the speed increase is so slow, and so incremental, that you barely notice it until you’ve already mastered that particular stage.
Sadly, there’s little that’s “special” about Yoshi beyond the egg-assembly feature, which means even falling block puzzler fanatics may run the risk of becoming bored with the title before getting their money’s worth. There’s something missing here—some factor it doesn’t have, that doesn’t draw the player back to the game again and again. Even a new tile for each stage would have made a difference, but no—same old, same old, all the way through.
Sure, it’s fun, the music is enjoyable, and the visuals are quite good (all things considered)… and it’s probably worth a few dollars for the fun you’ll have (especially if you enjoy these types of games)… but the real value lies in the Download Play aspect. Unless you’re planning on battling a friend head-to-head in this title, don’t count on this retro title becoming your new addiction.
There’s simply not much here to become addicted to!
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