I’d be lying if I said that Arzest’s Nintendo 3DS game Yoshi’s New Island caused a considerable amount of buzz following its reveal in a Nintendo Direct last April. This game is the latest in the Yoshi series, which sees the player control many different species of Nintendo’s well known dinosaur species as they attempt to reunite the baby Mario with his brother by traversing through numerous 2D side-scrolling platformer stages. Nintendo are no stranger to 2D platformers, with two prominent examples in the last twelve months being last month’s Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and last year’s New Super Luigi U. The problem is, while they are no strangers to the genre, maybe they’re too well acquainted?
Like with most of Nintendo’s 2D platforming outings, you have to progress through levels and collect some optional items for bonuses before defeating bosses in both the middle and end of the “World” (sequence of levels). To be honest, the game feels so much like the usual Nintendo platforming outing that you could have saved a year of waiting and played through Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D as even the appearance of the map screen is very similar. That isn’t to say this game is bad because Donkey Kong certainly wasn’t. What this does mean though, is that for a company that prides itself on innovation, Yoshi’s New Island offers very little.
If you’re simply playing through the game without any concern for the collectables, you’ll find that the game’s levels are rather short and simple. Even the different transformations Yoshi can do are controlled in almost exactly the same way – moving Yoshi with motion controls while you press a single button to perform an action. The game’s boss battles are also laughably easy – a simple three hits will take them down and while some will only be hit as a result of a certain gimmick, there are those that literally just require you to chuck three eggs at them. Fortunately though, if you’re looking for all the game’s various collectables, you will be in for a frustrating treat as they will be scattered throughout the level – sometimes in the usual Nintendo fashion of secret passages that are quite difficult to reach – sometimes, I’ve spent more time trying to grab a single flower than I have playing through the rest of the level!
Yoshi’s New Island‘s soundtrack is another aspect that seems to have garnered a lot of criticism and to be honest, I have to agree. Masayoshi Ishi’s work on the game sounds really cute and chirpy at first, fitting with the child-like nature of the game but it quickly becomes irritating. The pastel-like art style of the game was an apt fit that not only matched with the overall style of the game but also was a nice subtle growth from that of previous titles in the series, although I did prefer the pop-out book feel of Yoshi’s Story.
Like Nintendo’s other 2D platformers, Yoshi’s New Island features a multiplayer mode but unlike the New Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country series’, this isn’t just co-operative play where you and friends traverse through the regular single player levels, but rather, there are six individual mini-games that are progressively unlocked as you advance through the single player mode. I do have to question the point of some of them though – is there really a purpose for a game where two players have to pop balloons but instead of having competing scores, share one accumulative score? I do find the whole “unlock the multiplayer modes” thing to be rather weird but more importantly, the multiplayer games on offer are simply not very fun to play.
Yoshi’s New Island is by no means a bad game, but at the same time it suffers in that by coming from a publisher so renowned for their innovative titles, it just doesn’t strike me as having that “Nintendo quality”. The problem is, there is just isn’t anything that feels new in Yoshi’s New Island.