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Monday, May 23, 2011

Retro Review: Yoshi (Virtual Console)

AKA Mario & Yoshi

When the title of a game is as vague as “Yoshi”, it’s tough to speculate what you’re getting into. Players take control of Mario and flip panels with the intention of using eggshells to form baby Yoshis. Yoshi was originally released for the NES after its successor was launched, so the game went largely ignored. Thanks to Nintendo’s Virtual Console, though, gamers can now experience one of the definitive classic puzzle games on the service.

This game is unbelievably addictive, even now


As stated earlier, your goal is to hatch baby Yoshis by connecting eggshells together, but the gameplay is deeper than simply that. Famous enemies from the Mario series such as Goombas and Boos descend from the sky and land on one of four tiles. To clear them, you simply match up two of the same species and they will disappear. Should even one of your columns be filled with foes, the game is over. While you could simply make small Yoshis to your heart’s content, the authentic challenge is to stack up mass quantities of enemies inside the eggs to rake in the points (thus making new Yoshis of ridiculous proportions). There’s an astounding sense of accomplishment to be derived from giving birth to the largest Yoshi possible at a blazing-fast pace.

All of this is performed by controlling either Mario or Luigi to flip panels around. It is trickier than flipping around and navigating blocks in a game like Tetris, but it manages to feel fair and you instantly develop a sense of how to control the enemies. Some will immediately criticize the level of repetition (which is a questionable complaint considering this is a puzzler), but the game actually has two modes.

Gogo multiplayer


The main game is based on racking up a score, whilst the other focuses on progressing through levels by clearing the stage entirely of enemies. The additional two-player mode in which opponents rival to survive and earn a good score also contributes to the title’s longevity.

Musically, Yoshi is far from outstanding, but the ability to choose one of three tunes before beginning a play session certainly elevates the experience. The soundtrack could have been more expansive, however, considering how late it was released in the lifespan of its original system. The tunes are never ghastly enough to warrant turning down the volume, but there’s even an option to turn off melodies and use only sound effects if such a concept floats your boat. Graphically, the game sticks to the basics, but few would dispute that the heart of a puzzle game is its gameplay.

Yoshi is not the best puzzle game available on the Virtual Console, but when you take its price of 500 Wii Points into account, the deal seems much sweeter. The game will appeal to puzzle aficionados and newcomers alike with its adjustable difficulty and sheer accessibility. To this day, Yoshi is overshadowed by classics like Tetris and Dr. Mario, but you can rest assured that it rivals them in quality.

- Clark A



Retro Review: Yoshi (Virtual Console)
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