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RELEASE DATE (NA): March 14, 2014 GENRE: Platformer
// review by Meow

I should sue for false advertising...


A few years back, I attempted to review this game as a massive undertaking of talking about how each level was crap in its own ways. However, I quickly realized I'd just be repeating the same thing for the entire review and scrapped it since it would take too much time. Ever since, I've pretty much not touched the game...until today. And just what game is it? Surprising you don't know, since you've clicked on it, but it's Yoshi's "New" Island for the 3DS.

To go over a bit of history, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island first came out on the SNES eons ago and had a fantastic soundtrack, gorgeous graphics, innovative gameplay, and was just one of the examples of how close a platforming game can be to perfection... at least in my opinion. It took a long time to get a proper sequel, if you ignore Yoshi's Story (as I do since it plays too differently for me to consider it part of the same series), with a dry spell until Yoshi's Island DS came out. Yoshi's Island DS was another great game, though not quite as grand as the original but still a shining star in its own right. Then it took until 2014 when Yoshi's New Island finally hit shelves for the 3DS. A dark day on an otherwise great year.

My first impressions of the game when I saw it was "this looks freaking ugly", as the art style of the game tried to use 3D models but gave things a texture to try to mimic the SNES game... but it's crap. But hey, I can forgive a completely horrible graphic choice as long as it doesn't physically hurt my eyes and the game's still fun. After all, there's no way you can screw up a tried and true formula for a Yoshi's Island game... right? I mean, after all, this is a NEW island... right? Well, I took to reviews of the game when I finally got a 3DS myself, reading to see what people thought of the game, and I saw a lot of complaints pertaining to this game being... well, crap and nothing new at all. At the time I just took this as "ugh, more nostalgic fanboys just whining about how these new games aren't the old games again" such as the case like with Mario Sunshine and ...well, anything really. Just look when any sequel is announced and you'll see a mass quantity of people rushing to be the first to ***** about how much it sucks despite never even touching the dang thing. But... this time... these people... were right. Paid Nintendo my $40, downloaded the game, and the first thing the game does before I even load it is make several squeaky hums at me causing me to go "what the heck?!". Loading up the game... the game just jumps straight to the title screen. Unlike the previous two games, this game doesn't play a nice music box melody while telling you the set up for this game. Nope, it just... goes right there. If you wait around long enough, it plays the intro cutscene when you start a new file, but... may as well just start the file.

Please don't start a file. The game only goes downhill from here.

Nintendo HQ

So, the story is as follows: The ending of Yoshi's Island was a fake. The stork gave the babies to the wrong parents — whooooops! So now the stork flies off again, babies in tow, and Kamek decides that now is a great time to kidnap the babies again despite him literally having just run off with Baby Bowser after a swift butt-kicking. Also, somehow in the past two minutes, Baby Bowser not only made a full recovery, but also took over an entire planetoid(?) just floating over the ocean with a single stupid island afloat on it and managed to make a new castle hidden in a dark void on the thing. Conveniently, Baby Mario falls amidst the Yoshi clan on the thing, and they decide to take him around for some reason. Apparently they need a baby to find Bowser's obvious hideout. By the way, the game treats you to this excellent kazoo rendition of the Star Wars opening theme the whole time.

More on music later.

This game doesn't open with a tutorial stage like the previous two games; you are instead dumped onto the world map unceremonially where you may notice that there are no longer charming portraits for each stage, instead just being a generic circle with a level number stamped on it that you click. The island is also depicted as a 3D model that's just a mishmash of garbage pertaining to the world's supposed theme instead of a road map like the previous games, and there is never any animation of Yoshi walking between these levels or relaying the baby between each other like the previous games; you just twink over to the next circle on the straight line. You see, what I'm getting at is that, as much as I don't like comparing games, you can't really escape that with a sequel, and you especially can't escape it when you just don't put in any dang effort or nice touches like with these older games. Know what makes a good game a great game? The little things. Which is what this game lacks.

Diving into the game itself more, the game plays off like a slightly modified version of Yoshi's Island DS (YIDS), without the access to more babies than Mario. What I mean by this is that the egg bouncing physics are the same as YIDS where the amount of bounces you get off an egg are dependent on the color of the egg. This, however, clashes with the decision to make eggs in this game randomly be different colors, and in combination with the puzzles where you're on a strict time limit, and the game just happens to have given you a red egg when you need to have a green egg to do proper bounces goes to show that they really didn't think this one through too thoroughly. I can only assume this sort of egg bouncing system is in place because it was easier to code it lazily, or the fact the code already existed in a recent project (YIDS). The egg throwing problems don't end there either. A problem I constantly ran into, yes, even more so than egg RNG: the fact they over-animated Yoshi's standing egg pick-up and toss animations. You know, for setting the game's throwing too hasty it sure does take its freaking time. You see, Yoshi will slowly stoop down to pick up an egg behind him...which is already bad enough, but if you make the stupid decision to throw the egg while standing still at a moving target, chances are you're going to miss because Yoshi will have to reel back and hurl the egg. This animation is ONLY if you're standing still or on the ground, and once it's started there's no breaking out of it save for taking a crack on the noggin. So if you want to throw eggs properly, you need to be hovering in the air and wiggling Yosh' around like he has an itch that just can't be scratched.

Getting to the levels, nearly every single one of them is a bland, mostly flat, and boring soulless emulation of the same level number of the first Yoshi's Island, making Yoshi's "New" Island anything but new. In addition to this blatant lie of "New", we see plenty of enemies that are just models ripped from the New Super Mario Bros. series used in this game but with freaking ugly (fugly for short) textures, even using NSMB's Bullet Bills instead of the crazy shark-toothed ones the other Yoshi's Island games had. Maybe the New part is in reference to their new-found apathy or something, I dunno. But yes, each level is a crude half-***ed reinterpretation of the themes found in the levels of the original game, such as the World 4 fortress requiring you to gather keys from different parts of the level to open a door to the boss, or perhaps a more well-known level is The Loooooooooong Cave autoscrolling level from the original game, which in this game is just a straight path. Like I said, this game is flat, boring, and not new.

Exciting levels, aren't they?

However, I do have to give the game a TOUCH of credit, as there are a few nice things to it. Gotta look at the positives, right? Well, in as much as I loved that each world had two big bosses to fight that were unique and exciting battles in the previous two games, this game only has those big bosses for the castle stages and... they're frankly lame. But the game's fortresses all have the same boss. How is this a good thing? Well, the boss is Kamek. Each of his battles is based on the same goal: bop 'im three times. However, each of these battles has a unique twist to them that I genuinely enjoyed, such as one required you to nail some of those ? buckets to drop bombs on him, and another required you to spot a path of some arrow clouds that redirect your eggs that would make your egg bounce around and nail him before he can use them to nail you. This is genuinely one of the few new things this game has to offer. The other nice thing in this game is a change to how the game determines 100% completion. In the original games, you'd have to grab all the red coins, flowers, and maintain 30 stars to the goal in one swift shot, but in this one you can do it more leisurely, collecting all the coins or flowers in a go, and keeping 30 stars in another. As long as you complete the three tasks at some point or another, you're golden. It made this already tasking game less of chore to play. Though not enough to make me feel merciful towards its scoring. A small note to add on, too, is that if you collect all the red coins in a level and go back, the red coins will give you three coins. I mean, lives are meaningless to me (I had nearly 500 when I was done), but it's still... it's one of those "little touches" I mentioned, and pretty much the only one in the game. However, for each positive, there are a mass amount of negatives. Like, as nice as it is to get everything leisurely, they decided to make a lot of things be hidden stupidly in completely inconspicuous spots, such as the game to expect you to jump at a specific point in this boring flat expanse of a level to reveal a ? cloud that has a flower that you wouldn't know to hit it unless you knew it was already there, or perhaps walk onto a specific pixel to make a ton of coins suddenly appear for no explainable reason. The game likes to do this a lot, and the worst part is that the hit boxes to trigger the reveals for these things don't always work. There are times where I KNEW where something was and I'd jump around the spot trying to trigger it only for my fifth time jumping around like an idiot to finally make it appear.

Reeling back to the subject of changes, let's address the goal rings. Remember how the roulette landing on a flower let you play a neat little minigame for items and lives in the previous games? Well, screw that noise, now landing on a flower will give you a medal per flower you've collected. Collect 30 and unlock a bonus vehicle level to farm 1ups! Problem is that means you have at most a 50% chance to get the chance to get part of the required amount of medals to unlock this extra level. And let's be honest, they're bland and flat like the rest of the game. Because luck-based progression totally doesn't tick anyone off, NOT AT ALL. Heck, why didn't they make it luck-based for unlocking all the characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee? That would have been great, playing 1500 matches and maybe Mr. Game n' Watch would appear or maybe not. Gambling is great! Or maybe that's an awful idea and whoever thought this should be given a time out to think about what they've done with their life.

Continuing the theme of me complaining all over the place, it's truly special just how ugly this game is through and through. The level design, the art, the music, the story. Hoo, we'll finish the story here soon. It's a doozy, alright. However, I'd like to address the backgrounds for a moment. Each level's background looks like it's either just an upscaled version of a Yoshi's Island background that doesn't fit the graphics of the level, or it's a random pointless background that looks like Yoshi is inside some deranged box that someone painted on that doesn't fit the graphics of the level. They're all fugly, in short. An example is the stage Ukiki Jammin' where the background is all in grayscale artistic splats but... nothing else in the level is grayscale, just the background.

Looks like Yoshi's gonna barf and I don't blame 'im.

Next: music! Now, I've already graced your ears with the beauty that is the opening theme of the game. You know, the thing that's supposed to get you pumped up for the game but instead makes you go "oh...oh no...", but you should know that the party don't stop there! No no, for you see, the game LOVES kazoos. 2014, year of the kazoo. Kids like kazoos, right? If I make every song in this game have a kazoo blaring over it, it'll be great! Okay, you get the point. Thing I'm trying to get is... the artist who made the tracks... they HAVE talent. I can hear it in that opening theme. I mean, click on this version of that video and listen:

The kazoo storm melts away a bit giving to some genuinely great soothing music...but it still has some idiot blasting their 10 cent kazoo over everything like it was a cowbell or something. The rest of the music in the game ranges from hideous to mediocre, but sometimes, on the rare occasion, something...good brushes by my audio sensors. Have a listen to these ones:

I mean, that last one sounds like it comes from SpongeBob, but these are all decent tracks, but I do notice one quirk with all of these: it takes about 50 seconds to a minute for each of them to get... good, I guess you can say. Well, except for the Bikini Bottom track, that one's dandy the whole way.

Wrapping up this disasterpiece a bit, I mentioned that the ending of this game was... well, it was "special". So "special" in fact that I laughed at how incredibly dumb it was first time playing. So, leik, Yoshi goes to the top of the giant volcano on the planetoid and for no shown reason at all a black void opens up on the bottom of the thing and Yoshi just warps to it for no reason. You make your way through Generic Castle #12, and you're in Bowser's playroom, only this time instead of ground-pounding to send shockwaves into Baby Bowser, you just pelt him with eggs because that's easier to program. Then Kamek makes Bowser grow big, only he's not a threat because his attacks are scarce, and have jack-all for range, and he isn't coming to smash the ground you're on like he did five minutes ago (yes, this is still just after Yoshi's Island, to remind you), so he's a joke. After pelting him with a measly three eggs, you meander to the right and find Luigi and the stork! A picture perfect ending. And suddenly, Bowser. Yeah, no reason, just... "And suddenly King Bowser leaps through space and time to fight you!" which is, like, straight out of fan fiction. You can't make this crap up, I'm tellin' you. I was laughing and was like, "Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! This is what this game ends with?!". So, you toss three eggs at big Bowser, then Kamek makes him big, and you just repeat the same giant baby Bowser fight again only this time Bowser is much bigger and thus is much easier to pelt with three measly eggs and then you meander to the right again see Luigi and the stork, the end. Repeat the ending from the original Yoshi's Island, only with less graphical fidelity or satisfaction at all, and ignore the fact that Yoshi's Island DS ever existed. Maybe this was supposed to be a half-***ed attempt at making this a bridge game for the two, who knows.

Oh no, this badly! I am a Yosh now!

To make one final note, this game, like many Nintendo games have had since the Wii era, has a super guide. It's Mario. Adult Mario. Every level and nearly every checkpoint has a stupid pipe that's in the way, and it's Mario in disguise. For some reason. They show in the end credits that it was Mario the whole time. Anyway, the super guide thing is awful. Some people like to defend super guides, but no. Not this time. You see, if you die, like, three times... the game will have Mario fart out a bubble with a wing that gives infinite hovering. Not only is this insulting, but it's in the way, and if you're not expecting it and want to play the game properly, then it's going to tick you off when you just run and jump and Mario farts on you, granting you God Mode. By the way, if you die again with infinite flight, the game gives you God Mode. The wing turns golden and you have infinite flight and invulnerability. There's a point where you just question why you're playing a game in the first place.

One final FINAL note, I just realized I never talked about the vehicle segments or the super star segments. Vehicles are back in specific levels, and are on auto-pilot, with you steering by tilting the infernal system back and forth. I find all of these to be a slog and annoying to grab all the coins and flowers in, with the only exceptions being the bobsled (replacing the skiing from the original game) and a minecart which are genuinely fun but used twice each. The super stars now lazily just give Yoshi super power, not Mario, and are fairly mediocre AND YOU CAN DIE IF YOU DON'T HAPPEN TO KNOW WHERE TO GO OR IF THE GAME DECIDES IT DOESN'T WANT TO COOPERATE WITH THE WALL-CLINGING MECHANIC. But there is one neat thing, they always end with Yoshi grabbing a red star that makes him go super saiyan and blast through a ton of rocks for no real reason.

Ultra Instinct Memes write themselves.

Ending this, Yoshi's New Island is a sterling example of just how little care Nintendo has in making anything special anymore. They've solidified themselves into the households of billions, they have countless fanatics who will defend them blindly with disturbing obsession, and they can burn more money than you make each week every day for the next hundred years and still be able to afford to not give a crap. Shame to see such passion be squelched out, but everything dies if you give it enough time. If you only have a 3DS, get Yoshi's Island DS if you must have a Yoshi's Island game. Give this game a miss completely. It's...just not worth your time. Not even for curiosity. Watch a playthrough if you must, but...just don't buy this game. I mean, it IS $20 now days (and yes, I'm slightly embittered by the fact the game dropped in price so closely to after I purchased it for the full $40), but there are so many other games out there you can get for $20 that are just better. Yoshi's Island DS, for instance, if you need a game in the same vein but better. Eternal Dread and the Mega Man Legacy Collection can be even nabbed for that price. Mega Man Legacy Collection is even on the 3DS, so there you have it. You'd save money AND get six games plus a ton of other stuff, too. Yoshi's New Island is just mediocre, uninspired, and doesn't actually seem to know what sort of theme it wants to go with becoming a flat and ultimately uninteresting game. It's not horrible, but it's by no means good, leaving you with an ultimately fugly and disappointing experience.

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