Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (SNES and Gameboy Advanced)

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Once upon a time a stork was carrying a pair of very special twins to their parents to be. On his way he was ambushed by a koopa wizard by the name of Kamek, “THE BABIES ARE MINE,” He screeched. Kamek stole one of the infants but the other fell onto the island below. He fell onto the back of a Yoshi, this Yoshi brought it back to his tribe and Baby Mario’s twin’s intuition tells him where his brother is and he points the Yoshis in the right direction. (Wait, how does Baby Mario know that the Yoshi’s have to go to the darkside of Yoshi’s island by travelling through the moon? Eh, screw it.) Play as the Yoshi tribe as they hand Baby Mario off. Run, jump, flutter-kick, swim, transform into vehicles, eat your enemies, turn them into eggs, hurl your egg-based offspring at other enemies…. now I’m just really curious about the anatomy and reproductive cycles of Yoshis….

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“What’s up nerd? Yeah, I just felt like turning into a helicopter. Nothing wrong with that.” 

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The whole gang is here and MORE! See even more new enemies! A few of which will be ignored in Mario canon after this.

Development

Not a lot to talk about when it comes to the story of the development of Yoshi’s island. No hilarious stories, no real crises. It had four director’s though, and I’m not sure it they’re sequential or simultaneous. Unlike other Mario games, Shigeru Miyamoto, the series creator, was not among the directors. Miyamoto created Super Mario Bros, the original Donkey Kong game for the arcade, and The Legend of Zelda but when it came to the Super Nintendo he took on the role of Producer. He did this both with Super Mario World and Yoshi’s island. The one big thing about Yoshi’s Island is that it was released eight months after Donkey Kong Country. Donkey Kong Country had a way of rendering sprites in game by pre-rendering them, creating a very unique style. Miyamoto was told to take things in this direction which lead to the, similarly unique style, of a child’s drawing.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was released on August 15th, 1995. It was up against Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Heroes of Might and Magic, and Comix Zone.

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From the mountains with smiling faces to the poorly shaded clouds, the backgrounds look like they’re fuzzied by a child’s memory’s.

Nostalgia

This game and me go way back. I don’t remember when I first played it, I couldn’t have been older than ten. I must have had my parents rent it from Taylor Brook video 30 times. The first time I rented it I ended up so sick the next day that I couldn’t got to school, I thought I had won big. But when I tried to play the game I got so motion sick that I couldn’t continue. I was so upset, I had gotten a taste of it and would be denied the rest. When I did get around to playing it, I’ll admit, I was pretty bad. I still didn’t understand how sequels worked, so I thought that I would just find a mushroom or a feather to fly. I thought that I could jump on enemies to destroy them, and it does, but unless Yoshi eats them then they’ll come back when he returns to where they spawn. I didn’t understand how to throw eggs or what I could use them for. At this point in my career I wasn’t even aware that the controller had buttons on their shoulder areas. But I eventually figured it out fighting the first boss, Burt the Bashful. I ended up so frustrated that I hit every button and touching every part of the controller until I realized that there were shoulder buttons and that these allowed me to throw the eggs. Projectile weapons, what a novel idea. I also never figured out that I could use items from the pause menu, when I figured this out I opened up all the other saves and wasted their items (Kids can be so cruel).

It was quite a trek getting through this game. I got stuck on a bunch of levels, maze levels, locked door fortresses, ice levels, levels that scroll (I still dislike areas like this today), and levels surrounded by bottomless pits. But I did eventually get through them, I was always willing to give them another try (Or go farm some lives and come back for fear of the dreaded GAME OVER. I seriously thought that it would delete my game save [On the topic of game saves, I always felt bad when I had to delete one. I thought the kid with that save would find me and beat me up]). I got all the way to Kamek’s fortress only to find that it’s not Kamek’s! It’s Baby Bowser’s! This blew my goddam mind when I was a kid.This is one of the first games that I got to the end and couldn’t beat. I loved the game so much that I didn’t even care though. I went back to old levels and old bosses and had fun just beating them again (I still go fight Tap-Tap the Red Nosed on my Gameboy Advanced copy every year or so.)

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You and me, round 124 or whatever. This fight has everything, it’s got a pit of lava for goodness sake!

Now, an aside on Baby Bowser. The first part is great, it’s fine. It’s the second part that gets me.

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This scared me silly when I was a kid. I would panic and die every time I faced him. I didn’t even know what to do. I saw the giant eggs  float by and I just thought, “That’s it. This game ends with Yoshi and Mario getting horrifically crushed by a monolithic infantile turtle monarch.”

The Gush

Dear sweet lord I still love this game. Koji Kondo outdid himself with the composition of this game, I’m still humming the tunes at work every once and awhile. From the fun loving mid-boss theme, to the more serious world boss theme, to the pants-wettingly terrifying Baby Bowser fight theme, to the silly and happy-go-lucky-rag-timey tunes, I think they’re all great (It took me forever to notice that the stage select theme gets more instruments the more worlds I had beaten. I always thought, “When did that change?”). The visuals are stunning and have amazing details, like the way the moon has stitches like a baseball or how Raphael the Raven’s eyebrows get angrier the more hits you land on him. That being said, the game does a lot of things to make it less scary. The bat enemies have little dotted lines trailing behind them and the larger enemies are usually shown being unable to reach Yoshi for some reason, Blarggs being bound to bodies of water and such.

The Kvetch

My only complaint is that it’s difficult to understand how Yoshi’s flutter-kick works. It’s a frustrating exercise to spatially comprehend, with my 9 year old brain, whether I’m gaining altitude or losing it when Yoshi kicks his little legs to try to gain more altitude (I was also shocked that it worked at all, even when I was nine). I could imagine it leading to a lot of deaths until it clicks in the player’s head, and I don’t know another way the game teaches it satisfyingly. There are also a lot of indestructible enemies, there are the kung-fu performing fellows that usually attack in pairs and can’t be destroyed. I always remember forgetting this and wasting my time trying to figure out how to destroy them (Actually, I think I do remember destroying them… aw crap…. It’s an infinite cycle.), and that’s super frustrating especially for a kid.

Oh god, I almost forgot. I blocked it out. When Yoshi gets hit he drops Baby Mario and when he does Baby Mario cries. Oh god, does he cry. It’s one of the most annoying thing in all of videogaming history and I think I try to forget it because it’s not just the worst thing in this game, it’s part of my top 100 worst things ever. (Seriously https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0nYKgkFvMM put this on a loop and see how long you can deal with this wailing, it’s awful)

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Did I also mention that Bowser lives in the night Yoshi’s Island in the middle of the void?! I always missed seeing the light world.

The Verdict

I’m totally blinded by nostalgia on this one. Either it’s a great game or I just can’t see its faults. I might venture as far to say that it’s both. I still play this game on long trips on my Gameboy Advanced. I do wish that there had been someone there to tell me how to beat Baby Bowser or something, then again that’s part of the learning experience I suppose. I love this game and I can’t recommend it enough. This game is actually the least selling Mario game, with only 4 million sales and I don’t know why. I don’t know why it’s not as well known as the other titles, I blame the Baby Mario screaming.

Next Week’s game is: Donkey Kong Country.

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