Yoshi's Story Review
October 8, 2018
Yoshi's Story is a weird game, especially on the Nintendo 64. The system had so many 3D platformers, but 2D games were rare. It also fits weirdly in the Super Mario timeline as a "sequel" to Super Mario Land 2: Yoshi's Island. Despite its weirdness, it is a fun game.
Yoshi's Story released in 1997, at the height of the Playstation and Nintendo 64 era as 3D games were the rage. The first thing you notice is that Yoshi's story plays like an older 2D, sidescrolling, platformer. I used to write Nintendo with game ideas as a kid, asking for more 2D Mario games to go with the 3D games (I guessed they finally realized my idea was good and made New Super Mario Bros years later), so I was psyched for a side-scroller on the N64. In Yoshi's Story, you control a yoshi, running around levels eating fruit with a huge tongue. There is no "end" to each level, rather you finish the levels by eating 30 fruits.
I really like this fruit system. It makes the game easier for kids--I really enjoyed this game as a kid. It also keeps the game simpler, as the fruit doubles as the yoshi's health. Now that I am older and slightly better at the game, I really like trying to eat as many melons as possible. They are worth more than standard fruits, and adds a fun and major challenge to each level.
Levels and Graphics
The levels in Yoshi's Story are excellent. There are 24 total, each with a different setting and theme. The game takes place within a "story book", so some of the levels seem like they are made out of cardboard, or yarn, or even newpaper clippings. It sounds weird, but it is really cool and looks really good. I remember thinking how amazing the Nintendo 64's graphics were on the yarn levels. The style is kind of like Donkey Kong Country's pre-rendered 3D-ish graphics. The level variety is good too. There are levels in the clouds, under the ocean, in a lava cave, bowser's castle, and most terrifyingly, in a jungle river, and all of them are very open-ended.
Anyone who played the game will remember the fear that came along with "Jungle Puddle", the river level in the jungle. The level has giant fish called "blurps" who eat yoshis. They can jump way out of the water, and spit water at the yoshis as they jump, knocking them back. It takes one wrong move and you're eaten. Adding to the fear is the music--it is completely crazy. Going back and playing this level now I really love it. The vibe is great. It is fun trying to carefully eat fruit, knowing that a fish may jump out at any moment. The level background looks great and has a jungle vibe. All the levels have a good vibe.
My favorite part of the game is the hidden secrets. Each level has three big hearts to find. You can hear them from a distance (like a Fortnite treasure chest), and then have to figure out where it is and how to get there. For each heart you collect on a level, you have that many new levels to pick next time. So rather than rush through each level, you might want to carefully find the hearts before winning. The next thing to find is melons. As I said before, melons are worth more than the standard fruit. (I have no idea what the melons are supposed to be, they are turquoise. Maybe they're Japanese.) But they are often hidden throughout the level, requiring thorough searching to find them all. And then there are unlockable yoshis and shy guys. Hidden around the levels are: A white Shy Guy, the black Yoshi, and the white yoshi. The Shy Guy lets you revive a dead yoshi, and the black and white yoshis are slightly better than the regular yoshis. They are all difficult to find, and it is fun searching for them.
Overall I really like Yoshi's Story. It is not a typical platformer, but is still really fun. Kids would really like it, and adults will too. If you are into Yoshi's Wooly World, definitely give Yoshi's Story a try. It is a fairly short game, but I definitely recommend it if you can get it for N64 or on the Wii U Shop.