The follow-up to one of the best platform games of all time (Super Mario World), is – unsurprisingly – also one of the best platform games of all time!
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was released by Nintendo in 1995 to much anticipation, and it didn’t disappoint.
For starters: the graphics are a real mix of visual styles in this sequel and they are nothing short of wonderful. There are crayon-drawn backgrounds, shaded 2D graphics, and even some pre-rendered 3D. It is much more varied than the original and some of that is down to the fact that the cartridge has a Super FX2 chip inside it – version two of the graphics co-processing chip that was famously used in Star Fox.
Secondly, in this game you mostly play as Yoshi, with Baby Mario on his back, which gives you a variety of different options in terms of moves. Yoshi can jump of course, but if you hold down the jump button afterwards he paddles his feet in mid air and stays aloft for an extra bit of time, which is very useful. If Yoshi gets hit by an enemy, Baby Mario falls off and a countdown timer starts. Yoshi then has a short number of seconds to retrieve Baby Mario before he’s carried off by a floating mob of Koopas, losing you a life. Falling off the bottom of the screen also instantly loses you a life, as is the law in pretty much all Mario games.
Thirdly, the game mechanics are more detailed than previously. In this one Yoshi can eat enemies like before, but this time he can also makes eggs out of them, then use the eggs to throw at things. This alone adds a nice shooting element to the game, and there are two different ways of shooting eggs (press twice, or hold down and let go), which you can switch between at any time.
A World Map shows progression through the game and every now and then you’ll get an impressive boss fight to contend with – usually a mid-level boss, and an end-of-level boss. Stages can be replayed for higher scores, and the combined score of each of your stages can unlock secret levels if it’s high enough.
Every stage in Yoshi’s Island is an endless stream of clever tricks and ideas. There are rocking seesaws, carousels, springs, rotating barrels, running on walls and ceilings, seeds that make plants grow with leaves that you can climb up. Yoshi can sometimes turn into a helicopter (!) if the stage demands it. There are stages with ‘Fuzzies’ – cute-looking fuzzy things – that when touched make the screen go weird and Yoshi becomes drunk and hard to control. There’s a friendly dog-like creature, called “Poochy”, who you can hitch a ride on; a scratchcard game; actually a host of minigames to find as you explore. There’s even a bit that pays tribute to Tetris, with falling blocks…
What I’m getting at is that Yoshi’s Island is so jam-packed with ideas and content that it is guaranteed to please pretty much everyone but the cold-hearted.