Yoshi
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Developer:
    • Game Freak
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    NES
    • JP 12/14/1991
    • US 06/01/1992
    • UK 12/10/1992
    GB
    • JP 12/14/1991
    • US July 1992
    • UK 12/17/1992
Score: 65%

This review was published on 02/06/2015.

Yoshi is a puzzle video game developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System and original Game Boy. The NES and Famicom versions were released in Japan on December 14, 1991, North America on June 1, 1992, and Europe on December 10, 1992. The Game Boy version was released in Japan on December 14, 1991, North America in July 1992, and Europe on December 17, 1992. In Japan the game is known as Yoshi's Egg and in Europe it's called Mario and Yoshi. Game Freak is known as the creator of the wildly popular Pokemon series, but way before they made those games, they made other games that were far less successful. This is one of them. Yoshi is the first puzzle game to feature the green dinosaur from Super Mario World, with the second one being Yoshi's Cookie. This game is a slightly different take on the falling blocks puzzle genre, but it's not quite as good as Tetris or Dr. Mario. The game lacks depth in its mechanics and is a bit too basic.

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Despite being centered on Yoshi, the game has you playing as Mario. It's a bit misleading, to say the least. The way the game works is that there are various enemies from the Mario series falling from the top of the screen; Goombas, Cheep Cheeps, Bloopers, Boos, and so on. These falling enemies will eventually form stacks, for up to four stacks total. Mario, whom you control, is holding two plates at the bottom of the screen, and he can move left and right. The portly plumber can flip the stacks around using his plates, though it's not necessary for him to hold the stacks at all times. If two enemies of the same type are stacked together, they vanish into thin air. It's Mario's mission to make sure that none of the stacks get too high by manipulating them in a way so as to continually facilitate the destruction of his foes. It's as simple as that, really. While these mechanics are unique, they're not flexible enough to allow for much in the way of experimentation. You can't match stuff horizontally or diagonally; it's all vertical. As a result of that, you pretty much do the same thing repeatedly, leading to somewhat shallow game play.

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The only things that change up the basic game play are eggshells. Occasionally, eggshells will fall from above instead of baddies. In particular, there are two specific types of eggshells; a top eggshell and a bottom eggshell. If a top eggshell spawns first, it will instantly vanish the moment it touches anything. However, if a bottom eggshell spawns first, it will remain there until you complete it by allowing a top eggshell to fall on top of it. Completing eggshells will make them vanish and award you with some points, but that's not their main point. What you're actually meant to do with eggshells is make an enemy sandwich. Basically, you put enemies in between two eggshells to brutally kill them all. The more enemies that are placed between the two eggshells, the more points you get, and they don't need to be matched or anything. In addition to getting lots of points, this can be used to very quickly eliminate a huge amount of enemies, so it's pretty handy. A Yoshi also hatches out of the fully formed eggs, which is cute. This is, by far, the most enjoyable part of the game.

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There are two game types to choose from; Type A and Type B. Type A is the standard fare endless mode where you go for as long as possible to see how high you can get your score before losing. It gets faster and harder as time goes on, which makes it increasingly likely that you'll lose the longer you go, but also makes the score increase faster, too. Type B is a bit more interesting. In this mode, you start out with a stack of enemies already present on the playing field. The objective here isn't merely to get a high score, but to clear the screen of enemies. Every time a screen is cleared, you progress to the next level. The level-to-level progression makes this mode a bit more enjoyable than the standard one, though it does have a major problem. What's wrong with this mode is that the level sometimes doesn't give you the necessary enemies to clear the screen for a long while, which can result in a single level lasting for far too long. Additionally, aside from the increased difficulty of each level, only the start is truly different. Once you clear the initial barrage of foes, this mode becomes just like Type A.

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In addition to the single player mode, there's a competitive two player mode. This mode, like everything else in the game, is pretty simple. Both players will have a section of the screen to call their own, and they must deal with falling baddies just like in the regular game. The rules are basically the same as the single player, with the only difference being that the two players are competing to see who can eliminate all enemies first. Also, if a player loses by having too many enemies fill up his or her screen, then the remaining player will win by default. Whoever gets three victories first will win the overall game. Because of the way the rules are set up here, these matches can either be over in a flash or last an eternity, depending on the players. If neither player is able to clear their screen in a timely fashion, then it can result in an endless stalemate. This mode would have been a lot better if it weren't for that massive oversight. There also doesn't appear to be a way to send garbage blocks over to your opponent's side like in other similar puzzle games, which is disappointing, because that probably would have fixed this problem.

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Yoshi may be a loveable dinosaur, but his first outing in a puzzle game didn't go too well. The mechanics to this puzzle game are innovative to be sure, but they weren't too well thought out. Many of the superior puzzle games out there have mechanics that accommodate both beginners and experts, with skilled players being able to eke out more play time by using advanced techniques to get high scores. This game, on the other hand, fails to do that. With Yoshi, what you see is what you get; there's no complexity hiding beneath the simple exterior. The two player mode has the potential to be fun, but the awkward mechanics result in overly lengthy matches that will likely put both players to sleep from boredom. There's nothing wrong with simplicity, but this game doesn't have the substance to stand alongside Tetris as a truly great classic. Having said that, this game still isn't bad. It's just nothing special.

Word Count: 1,165

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