I don’t usually write about the really big games of a system’s catalogue. I prefer to talk about lesser known games, in the hope of educating someone on an under-appreciated classic they may have missed. I caught the bug of a certain sequel recently though, and I’ve been clamouring to write about the bugger. On receiving the SNES Mini Classic for Christmas, I was presented with 21 games, and for some reason out of all of these classics, I wanted to play Yoshi’s Island. Not Super Mario World, not Super Metroid, not Final Fantasy VI, but Yoshi’s Island. I’m still playing through it now. I don’t have the freedom to sit there for 3, 4 hours straight playing the same game to completion. My fun comes in small bite-size sessions every few nights. So, I’ll get a few levels in, pausing on the map screen for my 5 year old to dance to the addictive theme that plays, and then put it away for a few days until I get that itch again.
This is why I want to write about Yoshi’s Island. It came right at the end of the Super Nintendo’s lifespan in 1995. It arrived 5 years after its prequel, Super Mario World. I DID sit there over the course of a day or two as a 12 year old, and played the game right through to it’s incredible final boss battle. Today, I still remember everything. I remember the anticipation of Baby Bowser’s final move and the tense music that accompanied it. I remember Poochy the dog, sheperding me across danger to untold goodies. I still remember how fun it was to destroy a frog boss from inside his gut, by lobbing eggs at his tonsils. And of course, who can ever forget ‘Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy’:
The music was fantastic, with several catchy tunes which again, my 5 year old goes crazy for. The hand-drawn crayon style of the graphics is just wonderful and a risky move at a time when systems were starting to get more serious with the introduction of the Sony Playstation 1. It was also testament to the development skills of Nintendo that they decided to make Mario the sidekick this time round and give Yoshi center stage. An extremely bold direction which must have worked as we’ve had countless Yoshi games now over the years.
48 core levels plus secret stages, a scoring system which means you can always be working toward a full 100% completion, and some of the most fun boss fights you’ll ever experience in a platformer. I am always too quick to jump to Super Mario World as my answer to ‘What is the greatest platform game of all time’? If I took a minute or two to think about it, I think I’d come to the realisation that it’s very possible that not only is Yoshi’s Island the better of the 2 Super Mario platformers for the SNES, it’s also potentially the greatest straight platform game ever. It really is that damn good.
If you bought yourself or received a SNES Mini Classic recently, and maybe didn’t get round to giving Yoshi’s Island a try yet, do it. Stop thinking it looks like a children’s game, there’s levels on there that’ll kick your ass first time playing through them. Give it a try and if you’re not hooked by the point that you’re swallowing floating hairy puffs and getting high as a result which turns the level on its head and making Yoshi behave like a drunken fool, you don’t deserve to play Nintendo games. I hope you kept the receipt!
Catch me touching fuzzy @auto2112