Yoshi's Story
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Nintendo 64
  • Developer:
    • Nintendo
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 12/21/1997
    • US 03/10/1998
    • UK 05/10/1998
Score: 65%

This review was published on 03/07/2016.

Yoshi's Story is a side-scrolling platform video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It was originally released in Japan on December 21, 1997, North America on March 10, 1998, and Europe and Australia on May 10, 1998. This is the sequel to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, which was a Super Nintendo Entertainment System game released in 1995. To that end, Yoshi's Story was initially titled Yoshi's Island 64, but it got a name change later on in development. Yoshi's Island was and still is considered by many to be one of the best games of all time. Due to that, there was a lot of hype for Yoshi's Story prior to its release. The astronomically high expectations led to massive disappointments across the board when the game finally came out. During its initial release, the game was critically panned and countless fans were enraged. To say that this is the black sheep of the Yoshi series would be an understatement. Does the game deserve all the hate? Personally, I'd say yes. As the follow-up to Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Story is downright offensive.

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On an island known as Yoshi's Island, there existed a group of colorful dinosaurs called Yoshis. The Yoshis lived together in harmony, all thanks to the Super Happy Tree. From this tree grew a limitless supply of delicious fruit, which kept the Yoshis in a perpetually joyous state. Baby Bowser caught wind of this and became very envious of their happiness, so he casted a magical spell to transform the island into a pop-up storybook. Not only that, but he also stole the Super Happy Tree, which further plunged everyone into despair. That's so mean! Luckily, there were six eggs that hadn't hatched yet, thereby protecting the Yoshis sealed within them from the ordeal. When the eggs finally hatched, the baby Yoshis were startled by the dismal state of their environment. The young Yoshis then set out on a journey to reclaim the Super Happy Tree from Baby Bowser and bring back happiness to the island. It's a cute story, albeit disgustingly so.

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Despite 3-D graphics being all the rage on the N64 at the time, Yoshi's Story opted to go with mostly 2-D visuals. Specifically, Yoshi's Story has pre-rendered graphics similar to those seen in the Donkey Kong Country trilogy on the SNES, except they're way more cartoonish. The visuals in this game are rather creative, as they consist of environments that have been crafted out of various materials, like cardboard, wood, plastic, and different fabrics. It's all highly stylized stuff and the detail is impressive. Yoshi himself is fairly well animated, and his sprite stretches around depending on his actions. There are some cute contextualized animations, too, like how Yoshi may growl at nearby enemies, or how he looks sad and tired when low on health. All the enemy sprites also look nice, sporting similarly decent animations. The graphics are easily the best thing about this game, so you best savor them as much as you can.

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This is the first game to give Yoshi an actual voice. And what a big mistake that was. Unlike Mario's endearing lines in Super Mario 64, Yoshi's voice in Yoshi's Story is insufferable. When performing certain actions, Yoshi will frequently spout gibberish in a vain attempt to sound cute. He'll even begin to hum an annoying tune if you leave him alone for a while. Every single time he jumps, he makes an irritating yelp sound. There's just no way to shut him up. This is the game that ruined Yoshi as a character. Unfortunately, Yoshi's Story went on to corrupt many other titles with its gross influence, as almost all of Yoshi's future appearances in later games use the same voice. The music in Yoshi's Story also mostly sucks. There's one bad song in particular that sounds like rap music, except with nonsensical voice samples instead of actual lyrics. Another song literally sounds like a caveman grunting repeatedly into a microphone. The only music worth its salt is the track that plays in the final stage, but everything else ranges from bad to mediocre. If you insist on playing this game, you may want to do it with the sound muted.

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Retaining most of his abilities from Yoshi's Island, Yoshi can eat enemies to make eggs, throw eggs as projectiles, kick his feet in the air to hover briefly after a regular jump, and pound the ground with his butt. One thing he can do in this game that he couldn't do previously is sniff out hidden items, but this isn't too useful outside of locating secrets. While the controls are simple, they feel sloppy. Part of the reason for that is because you're forced to use an analog stick to play a 2-D game, which is less than ideal. The analog stick works well for aiming eggs before you throw them, but that's not the case for movement. Speaking of, Yoshi's movements are too erratic. The flutter jump is particularly troublesome, as it makes Yoshi wildly swing about, making it tough to land on tiny platforms. The controls aren't the worst thing ever, but they're definitely less precise than in Yoshi's Island.

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Even though the majority of stages in this game are linear, the objective isn't a simple matter of getting to the end alive. Instead, the goal of every level is to eat exactly thirty fruits. Anything will do; apples, bananas, grapes, watermelons, etc. Once that's done, you'll beat the stage and move on to the next one, where you'll repeat the same process. This is, by far, the biggest problem with the game. Almost every stage is loaded with fruits, meaning you'll reach the thirty fruit limit before seeing the end of the current level. Due to this system, you barely have a chance to explore any of the stages. If you play the game normally, you'll probably only get to see around ten percent of each stage you do. The stages themselves aren't actually that bad, but you wouldn't know that because you don't really get to play them. This is seriously some bad game design. I mean, why go through the trouble of designing a game if you're going to encourage players to skip past everything? It makes no sense.

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Depending on the color of the Yoshi you're using, they'll each like a different fruit. There's also a roulette you play prior to starting each stage that randomly picks another fruit they'll like. Eating these specific fruits will give you extra points, which doesn't serve much of a purpose beyond boosting your score. Melons are desired by all Yoshis and give the most points, so if you want the highest score possible, you'll have to go for all melons. However, melons are quite rare, often being hidden in very devious ways. Because of that, going for all melons means you'll have to search every nook and cranny, giving you an excuse to explore the stages in their entirety. In the event that you make it to the end of a stage without eating enough fruits, you'll be forced to warp back to the beginning to search for more. You'll probably have to use the warp to run through a single stage multiple times to find every single melon. Needless to say, that can be extremely frustrating. Hunting melons gives you the opportunity to see more of the game, but it's not worth the frustration.

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There are six worlds with four stages each, but you're only able to play one stage per world in a single play through. Coupled with how quickly most stages can be completed, this means the average play through won't last long. Therefore, you'll have to beat the game a minimum of four times to play all the stages. For the first world, you can choose whichever stage you want, but for every other world, you'll normally only have the first stage available. In order to change that, you'll have to collect Special Hearts. The amount of Special Hearts obtained in a previous world will influence the available levels for the next one. For example, getting two Special Hearts in the first world will unlock levels one through three in the next, whereas getting three hearts will make all four levels in the next world available. This will have to be done every single time you play the game, though, as you don't get to keep Special Hearts. You can replay individual stages at any time in Trial Mode, but you can't unlock new ones from there. If that sounds confusing, that's because it is. Structurally, this game is a mess.

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After beating certain stages, you'll be magically transported to a boss. The bosses in Yoshi's Story are absolutely pathetic. Bosses literally die in a matter of seconds in this game, typically posing no threat to the player. One boss is a giant cloud entity that resembles cotton candy, and you kill it by licking it a whole bunch. That's kind of an original idea for a boss, but the fight ends so prematurely that it doesn't matter. Beating most of the other bosses simply comes down to chucking eggs at them until they die. The only boss fight that's halfway decent is the one against Baby Bowser, who's the final boss, but all the rest are atrocious. There aren't very many bosses, either. This is a major slap in the face to fans of Yoshi's Island, as the bosses were one of the best parts of the original game.

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Save for the graphics, this game does everything worse than Yoshi's Island. Perhaps if you were to judge this game purely based on its own merits and not compare it to Yoshi's Island, then it would fare better. However, even then, Yoshi's Story suffers from far too many fundamental flaws. Levels are cut short by the stupid fruit eating system, the overall structure of the game is nonsensical, and the bosses are a joke. This isn't the worst game of all time, but it could very well be the worst sequel of all time.

Word Count: 1,693

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