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CONSOLE: NES DEVELOPER: Game Freak PUBLISHER: Nintendo
RELEASE DATE (NA): June 1, 1992 GENRE: Puzzle
// review by Jeff

Crapp'n'eggs.

If you think of the name Yoshi, obviously your mind is going to focus in on Mario's green dino-like sidekick. He's rideable, excitable, and his appetite is hardly fightable. So when you hear there's a video game simply called Yoshi, you immediately think of some action-adventure title involving Yoshi savagely devouring every living creature that dares to even blink at him funny. But no, Yoshi (or Mario & Yoshi as it's called in Europe... or Yoshi no Tamari in Japan, as "Yoshi's Egg") has no heart-pounding platforming or extendable tongue exhilaration. In fact, it could easily just be a random puzzle game that may have been forgotten in the fold, had a Yoshi license not been slapped on it.

Mario is at the bottom of the playing field, flipping plates back and forth as Goombas (the manual calls them "Little Goombas", in order to differentiate from the regular old ones), Boo Buddies, Bloopers, and Piranha Plants rain from the sky. Your duty is to eliminate all enemies from the screen. The game offers only four different slots for them to fall in. Two or three of the enemies will be dropped, and you have to shuffle around the trays at the bottom to find the best spots for them. Placing two of the same enemy blocks on top of one another makes them disappear, but if there isn't a nice spot for them, your stacks of baddies will grow ever higher. Reach the top with your stacks, and the undesirable Game Over screen is your punishment.

So what exactly makes this Yoshi game so Yoshi-ey? Aside from gracing the title screen and just standing around during gameplay doing jack all, Yoshi appears in the form of egg shell halves that also fall from time to time, within which you can grow your own Yoshi! Chia Pet, eat your heart out! First, a bottom half will need to fall and land. If you make a top half land on it, you'll make a baby Yoshi appear! Uhhh... good! But by having enemies sandwiched between the shell bits, you can create a more mature Yoshi! ...uhhh... good? The larger the Yoshi, the more POINTS you get! Uhhh... great! Points! It's what we all live for!


Special of the Day: Egg Drop Soup

If you're playing solo, there are two modes available for you: A-Mode, in which you keep on playing endlessly to rack up points as the game slowly speeds up, and B-Mode, which has specific stages to clear. The stages in B-Mode basically involve more and more layers of enemies being added from the get-go. Eventually you reach a point where there's very little space between the top of the playing field and where your stacks are, and it's merely a case of luck whether the right pieces will fall or not to make the enemies on top disappear. And for you people with actual friends out there, a two-player mode is available to throw an extra challenge into the mix: any enemies that you sandwich between two egg halves will be tossed onto your opponent's side.

The gameplay itself is palpable but only for a short while. Yoshi has extremely limited longevity. It's not a game you'd play to the same extent as Dr. Mario or Tetris — hours won't pass before your very eyes. In fact, even succumbing to the allure of Yoshi for half an hour is pushing it. More often than not, the game relies heavily on the luck of having the right pieces fall, rather than the player possessing any skill at all. At least you'll be kept awake by the varying BGM (background music) you can select. My vote goes for the "Star" theme, which is uplifting.

Had you paid full price for Yoshi, I feel sorry for you, as you really aren't getting as bounteous a puzzle game as many others available on the same console. When I was a wee lad, I bought the Game Boy version of Yoshi, which was less expensive, and it provided a few moments of bliss before I tossed it aside in favour of the more enjoyable Yoshi's Cookie. Sorry, Yoshi, but your very first starring role was a bit of a blunder.


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