Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Top Five Yoshi Platformers

Nintendo's Yoshi originally debuted in the masterful Super Mario World in 1991. Four years later, Yoshi received his first starring role, albeit sharing the spotlight with an infant Mario. This game would create a series of games starring the ever faithful dinosaur (even in Super Mario World when Mario heartlessly leaps off of him, causing Yoshi to fall into a pit). The games range from console offerings to handheld entries. These five Yoshi platformers are what I consider the best and my absolute favorites.

5) Yoshi's Story (N64)

Yoshi's Story didn't grab me as much as it did with other players. For one, the game was a disappointment coming off of the exquisite Yoshi's Island on the Super Nintendo (more about that game later). That said, just because it didn't live up to that game doesn't mean it was a bad game. It was just different, offering six worlds where players selected from one of four levels. The amount of hearts players collected granted more options in what levels they could choose. The gorgeous art style impressed, and the catchy main theme was given numerous remixes throughout each level. Yoshi's Story was atypical in design in the fact that there was no traditional level goal to find at the end of a level. Instead, level endings simply sent the player back to the start of the level. The goal was to eat up 20 fruit. To get a good score on levels, Yoshi needed to gobble up all 20 well hidden melons in a level. This was optional, of course, but doing this gave more depth to an otherwise somewhat shallow game.

4) Yoshi's Island DS (DS)

After a long absence from the gaming sphere, Yoshi's Island as a franchise returned with a special Nintendo DS entry. It is what I and many fans consider the most difficult Yoshi game in existence. The later levels ensure that you'll be wasting a lot of 1-ups on them, and that's even without gunning for a perfect score on each level! Yoshi's Island DS used both screens to show massive verticality in levels, but at the same time, the space in between the screens can lead to many cheap hits to Yoshi. The game also featured more babies than just Baby Mario, and each possessed their own ability. Baby Mario could run faster than any other tot, Baby Peach could use her parasol in wind currents to fly sky high, and Baby DK could latch onto vines. The real casualty of Yoshi's Island DS was the quality of music which was highly inappropriate in liveliness compared to other games in the series.

3) Yoshi's New Island (3DS)

Yoshi's New Island got a lot of "blehs" from critics and gamers. However, I found it to be an enjoyable romp. For one, a big problem that I found with past Yoshi's Island games was fixed with Yoshi's New Island. The fact that you could collect all five flowers, all 20 red coins, and have full health for 100% in a given level in different runs made the entire experience more friendly to players. The pastel colors and rendered models of the game look great in motion, not so much in still screenshots. The level design houses plenty of secrets, and the bonus levels are some of the most difficult in the Yoshi series. Sure, the music and gyroscope focused vehicle sections didn't do much to excite, but everything else added up to a lively and entertaining game.

2) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)

There's definitely no question that Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is a marvelous game. It made Yoshi the star sharing the spotlight with Baby Mario. Taking damage in a level meant that Baby Mario would be ejected from Yoshi's saddle, crying incessantly as a timer chipped away seconds. If the timer hit zero, a bunch of Baby Bowser's henchmen would grab Baby Mario and take him to the King of the Koopa's lair, resulting in a lost life. Yoshi's Island introduced many mainstays to Yoshi's character: the flutter jump, latching onto foes with Yoshi's tongue, swallowing them, and turning them into eggs, and the familiar ground pound. From the beautiful coloring book inspired art style to the great Koji Kondo soundtrack, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is a classic in every sense of the word, but it's not my favorite Yoshi platformer. At least not anymore.

1) Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U)

This might be considered blasphemy, but yes, in my opinion, after years of good at best Yoshi outings, Yoshi's Woolly World, a modern gaming classic for the Wii U, not only finally matched the quality of the highly revered Super Nintendo Yoshi's Island, but it usurped it. With insanely creative yarn and wool crafted worlds, plenty of collectibles to attain, brilliantly designed levels, tremendous music, and a gorgeous aesthetic, Yoshi's Woolly World somehow gave me more enjoyment than the original Yoshi's Island. Similar to Yoshi's New Island, you didn't need to collect everything in one run to achieve 100%, something that made the game more enjoyable and less frustrating. Combine all that with cool bosses and cooperative gameplay for up to two players, and you have my pick for my favorite Yoshi platformer.

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