Review: Yoshi’s New Island

Platform: 3DS
Developer: Azrest
Australian classification: G

It’s not hard to immediately dismiss Yoshi’s New Island as a thoughtless kid’s game. The chalk-inspired art style looks like the wall of a nursery, the soundtrack sounds like a toddler’s nightly lullaby and the introductory cut-scene starts out by telling you babies come from storks. The short journey does contain some of the more alluring platforming elements from the 1995 original, but you’re probably better off just pulling out the SNES and playing that one over again instead.

Yoshi’s New Island is a side-scrolling platformer that, instead of making you try to save one of the various iterations of Yoshi, requires you to protect Baby Mario. He has fallen onto Yoshi’s Island in some kind of cutesy stork mishap, and the Yoshi’s need to transport him across 6 worlds to reunite him with Baby Luigi. It’s riveting stuff (it’s not). The gameplay is quite standard – you flutter in the air, gobble up enemies and jump for collectables – and it could all probably be mastered in a matter of seconds. Even the collectables can be found as easily as stumbling across most corners of the map, without any degree of temptation or challenge.

There are a few exciting platforming perils, like your constant need to look out for Baby Mario. If you get hit or fall, Mario’s protective bubble will burst and you’ve got 10 seconds to frantically jump and grab him again as he wafts around your screen. So, you aren’t worried about Yoshi getting hurt so much as being concerned that you’ll lose Baby Mario and have to endure his high-pitched whining for 10 seconds, and that does add a level of intensity that isn’t always present in traditional plaforming.

Aside from that, there are a variety of elements unique to Yoshi’s New Island, but none of them are very compelling. Yoshi’s egg-based skills give environments a sense of variety – sometimes it might seem like you can’t progress, until you find a giant Shy-Guy to swallow, turn into an egg and fling into giant walls to break down your surroundings. Sometimes you have to manually aim eggs into the sky to smash specific obstacles, or use them as an alternate way to fend off enemies.

There are a few more new additions that aren’t quite so welcome – the random vehicle sections rely on imprecise motion controls, and the boss fights recycle the same character and only last a few minutes, and the multiplayer is riddled with lag. The music is a combination of kazoos, squeaks, flutes and whatever else they decided to throw in. Actually, most of the sound effects are overly urgent and shrill, but at least Yoshi stays adorable for the duration of the time.

All of the features that have been directly taken from the original Yoshi’s Island are still just as alluring today – like bouncing eggs across the screen like some kind of pool mini-game. Yoshi is an undeniably loveable guy to spend your time with, too, with his animated comical concern and urgent little squeaks. So, for anyone who is new to the franchise, there’s still a wad of enjoyment to be had in discovering its unique approach to the genre. To any die-hard platforming fans, it doesn’t stand out, certainly isn’t a ‘must-have’ but still plays well enough if you have nothing else to play. If you don’t tick either of those boxes, it’s probably only worthwhile after a dramatic price-drop.