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Yoshi's Island DS Review

More of the same, but we're not complaining

fter the disappointing Yoshi's Story on the N64, the god-awful Universal Gravitation on the GBA and the good-but-short Yoshi's Touch 'N' Go on the DS, finally we have a proper sequel to Yoshi's Island - one of the greatest 2D platformers of all time. And it's every bit as great as the original.

This is what we wanted - none of the baby-singing, melon-eating rubbish. This is what Yoshi's Island is supposed to be like. You munch enemies and make eggs to lob at super-speed as you bounce through level after level of platforming greatness.

The premise of the game, and the way it's played, remains much the same. A bunch of baby versions of Mushroom Kingdom characters, including Baby Luigi and Baby Princess Peach, are kidnapped by evil wizard Kamek and you, playing as Yoshi, help rescue them. Despite the similar story, however, there are new gameplay elements to get to grips with. The main one of these is the fact that at certain points in the game Yoshi will rescue other babies that can ride him, each baby having their own special ability.

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Baby Mario, the baby you start with, allows Yoshi to run faster; Baby Princess can use her umbrella to ride streams of wind to reach higher places; Baby Donkey Kong will grab and climb vines; and Baby Bowser can spit fireballs. You're able to find and change babies at certain points in the levels, which adds a new puzzle element as you swap babies and use their powers to overcome some occasionally tricky puzzles.

Walk The Dinosaur

There have been some other, smaller tweaks to the gameplay, too. As well as the usual 20 red coins and five flowers, each level contains one hidden giant coin that you can track down. What's more, new character-specific item blocks can only be hit when Yoshi is carrying a certain baby (so red 'M' blocks can only be hit by Baby Mario, for instance).

The game also makes use of the extended view of the DS's two screens, allowing you to hold X and press up or down to shift Yoshi to either screen, expanding your view in the direction of your choice. You'll find many potentially off-screen secrets by exploring with this feature, and while it doesn't literally double the lifespan of the game, it does give you lots more to do.

But we have to say that the similarities between Yoshi's Island DS and the SNES original far outweigh the changes. This new outing seems to intentionally emulate the first game in almost every way possible; it's almost like you're playing a remake or remixed version of the same game rather than a sequel. The intro sequence, where all the Yoshis meet and decide to help the babies, looks almost exactly the same. The end-of-level 'GOAL' screens are identical, as are the bonus stages and most of the menus, including the 3D rotating island in the title screen.

Click to view larger image
More significantly, the art style, much of the level design, music style and most of the puzzles stick closely to what was in the original, too. This means that while Yoshi's Island DS retains the quality and ingenious gameplay that made the SNES game an all-time classic, it won't offer much freshness to those who've finished the original.

It's not that Yoshi's Island DS isn't fantastic, because it is. But it lacks that surprise appeal. Yoshi's Island on the SNES constantly surprised you - from the first time you saw a door in the apparently 2D background become 3D and slam down on top of you, to the moment when Yoshi is swallowed by a frog and has to fight inside the its stomach. You're Prehistory

With its relentless mimicking of everything in the original game, the DS version lacks any sense of surprise. And despite the boost in technology on the DS, the levels don't seem as fluid. In the old game, log bridges bent under Yoshi's weight at the point of contact, for instance.

If you were expecting a fully fledged sequel that alters and improves on the original, this is not what you're after. On the other hand, if you adored the previous game and just want a trip down memory lane, the 'more of the same' approach taken by Yoshi's Island DS will satisfy. And of course, if you never played the original you'll love exploring this game for the first time.


10 comments so far...
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  1. mj scorpz Saturday 31st May 2008 at 03:49

    I was going to get mario vs donkey kong 2 march of the minis but i got this instead as mvd wasn't in stock, but hey ONM gave it 87% and only gave mvd 82%,Plus its a great game and so much replay value i would give it 89% :)

  2. xelentoliver Saturday 21st Feb 2009 at 11:59

    I got yoshis island for gba about 6 years ago and i loved it so i bought this for my ds about a week ago and i am already on world 3 its such a good game!!! :D :D :D :wink:

  3. Splinter435 Saturday 28th Nov 2009 at 18:18

    This game is fairly awsome, as although It only has 5 worlds, every level takes 5-15 minuets to complete.

  4. Splinter435 Wednesday 2nd Dec 2009 at 16:39

    This topic is dying, help me revive it!

  5. EveA Friday 15th Jan 2010 at 23:32

    Damn you East.

    Yoshi's Island GBA was not god-awful. It was the first game I EVER played. Yes. And I'm not going to lie, I still play it to this day. The controls were excellent, the music catchy, NO recycled bosses and to this day, I'm still finding red coins and flowers. So I really hope I'm not being offensive but I absolutely love Yoshi's Island GBA.

    There. I said it.

  6. BlueSoup8 Thursday 18th Mar 2010 at 19:30

    This looks good. Might be getting it soon!

  7. sciqueen Tuesday 6th Jul 2010 at 15:52

    Damn you East.

    Yoshi's Island GBA was not god-awful. It was the first game I EVER played. Yes. And I'm not going to lie, I still play it to this day. The controls were excellent, the music catchy, NO recycled bosses and to this day, I'm still finding red coins and flowers. So I really hope I'm not being offensive but I absolutely love Yoshi's Island GBA.

    There. I said it.

    He said UNIVERSAL GRAVITATION, not Yoshi's Island!

  8. wilrc6 Monday 23rd Aug 2010 at 17:13

    I rented this game from LoveFilm, having had the original on the SNES back in the 90's and recently played the GBA remake. I must say I don't really like this game much. The music is basically the same the whole way through and the feature where you could win items on the bonus challenges and use them in level when you needed them has been removed. The graphical style seems a bit flat compared to the SNES version and think for a DS game is quite disapointing.

  9. Splinter435 Friday 4th Feb 2011 at 16:22

    To re-iterate: This is actually as good as the origional if you haven't played the origional.

  10. Splinter435 Sunday 6th May 2012 at 16:50

    I only keep revisiting this because I like it, honest. >________>

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