Yoshi’s New Island – London Post-E3 Hands-On Impressions

The inventiveness of the original Yoshi’s Island is impossible to deny, and it is something that Nintendo has always sought to replicate in subsequent entries into the series. They’re certainly at it again in Yoshi’s New Island for the Nintendo 3DS, which aims to replicate the nostalgia for new and old fans alike — and we got our hands on the game at the same exclusive Nintendo event where we had such a jolly good time with Mario Kart 8.

The crayon art style that the SNES game of yore is known for has evolved into a 3D direction, although the game certainly remains a sidescroller. It’s a neat look, although opinions still remain divided on Yoshi himself — he’s meant to be as cute as a particularly endearing button, although we can’t shake the feeling that he just moves and appears a little… charmless.

The game itself does little to change the formula of Yoshi’s Island games as a whole, either. Shy Guys are scoffed, you’re carrying a baby on your back who must be protected at all costs, there are red coins to be sought, little happy stars fly out of clouds with question marks on them, and there’s a tremendous amount of throwing eggs you’ve just crapped at unsuspecting but nevertheless dangerous members of the Yoshi’s Island public.

That said, the enormo-eggs are an interesting new addition; giant ovular behemoths that crush all and sundry, bouncing about after being dragged into place by Yoshi himself. These hulking monstrosities are certainly no yolk, and can decimate areas of the level with ease — but there’s a strange sense of everything else being by the numbers.

We’re hoping that this is simply due to our limited time with the game, but a combination of Yoshi’s own bland sprite art (compared to a world packed with personality), coupled with a sense of over-familiarity with both the franchise and Nintendo platforming in general, meant that we didn’t really get hooked or engaged in the same way. Think back to those staggeringly inventive moments in the original Yoshi’s Island — the bit where the Chain Chomps jumped at you from the background and ate the level in chunks, or the part where you first realised you could turn into a helicopter and that this was supposed to make sense, or the infamous ‘Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy’ level, wherein Yoshi  turned into a staggering drunkard if so much as touching one of countless hallucinogenic dandelion puffs drifting across your screen.

The demo that we played demonstrated no such ingenuity — great level design, fantastic sounds, nicely layered 3D effect and a vibrant world, sure. Nobody can argue it’s not Nintendo doing what Nintendo does well — but we didn’t witness Nintendo doing what Nintendo does best. We ache for that same freewheeling invention that so shaped the SNES’s Yoshi’s Island, and you can call us fussy nostalgia hounds if you wish… but nobody can deny that a platformer as inventive as that would stand out tremendously on the 3DS, and would certainly be a flagship title for the Yoshi’s Island series as a whole.

However, the demo we played was short, and we feel certain that a greater amount of time with the game could prove our initial doubts wrong. There’s certainly no bad gaming design in effect in Yoshi’s New Island — but for the plucky green reptile’s true 3DS debut, we’re nonetheless hopeful that it’ll turn out truly special after all. Colour us cautiously optimistic, and keep an eye on PopBucket as we reveal more of the treats we got to play in London soon enough!

Author: Tony White

Narcissistic manchild Tony is known for his penchant for red and black, and was the accidental but grateful namesake of a sandwich in a Norwich coffee shop. He appreciates any media that doesn’t take itself too seriously. He doodles, does a weird webcomic and self-publishes comedy novels despite popular demand.

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Mario Kart 8 – London Post-E3 Hands-On Impressions