Yoshi’s New Island
I've long been a fan of the underrated Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island on SNES, so I was excited to learn that a new entry was coming to 3DS. Nintendo tried a follow-up years ago with the disappointing Yoshi's Island DS, so I've been cautiously optimistic that this would feel like a true sequel. After playing a roughly 10-minute demo at Nintendo's software showcase this morning, I came away neither confident it would be a slam dunk or disappointed in what I played.
While all of the marketing materials for Yoshi's New Island feature the art style seen in the SNES classic, the in-game models are 3D rather than hand-drawn. This makes Yoshi, Baby Mario, and the enemies resemble characters from the underwhelming Yoshi's Story rather than Yoshi's Island. Considering that the beautiful art style was one of the most distinctive features of the SNES original, I was disappointed with the change in aesthetic.
Gameplay will feel familiar to fans of the original, as Yoshi eats enemies and tosses eggs to protect Baby Mario. Collectible flowers and red coins are sprawled throughout the colorful stages, and stars increase the amount of time that you can be separated from Baby Mario before he's taken away.
One feature that's brand new to this 3DS sequel is the new giant egg. By swallowing a massive version of a Shy Guy or other baddie, Yoshi can produce a massive, screen-filling egg. This can be tossed through pipes, rocks, and other environmental objects in an effort to collect coins and open up new paths.
At the end of the brief demo stages, I ran into a boss room that contained a small bat. The wizard Kamek showed up, and smashed the bat with a massive, magical hammer. Like the magic dust in the SNES version, this caused the small enemy to become massive. I ran around, ate tiny bats, and tossed eggs at the huge bat until I hit him three times and he died.
The demo ended at that point, and I walked away from the booth with mixed opinions. It's great to see one of my favorite 16-bit titles getting another sequel, but I feel that some of the charm has been sapped from Yoshi's New Island. It's visually less interesting, and even the music was less memorable. Fortunately, the basic gameplay of the platformer appears to be intact. If Nintendo presents some interesting levels and boss fights in the final product, it should be enough to warrant another trip to the island.
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