Never Played: SUPER MARIO WORLD 2: YOSHI’S ISLAND
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island released in 1995, four years after its predecessor, the masterpiece Super Mario World. It too was developed by Nintendo EAD. It seemed crazy that the game would be able to match the sales and critical acclaim that Super Mario World did. While Yoshi’s Island didn’t sell as well, it did meet and even exceed the original as far as critics were concerned. The game features a group of Yoshis who work together to carry Baby Mario to Luigi. Platforming is the basis of the gameplay but puzzles are mixed in throughout as well. Like most Mario platformers the player has to complete levels in a pre-set order and levels are divided into worlds which each have a different style or theme. Yoshi uses his tongue to grab enemies and can shoot them at other enemies or at switches in puzzles.
I love the cover art for Yoshi’s Island and it gives you an idea of the watercolor style visual style the game employs. Yoshi’s Island uses a very unique visual style that features backgrounds which resemble basic and colorful hand-painted art and sprites that have a slight blur to their outlines. You really have to see it in motion to understand, I find it hard to really capture and explain it in words. It is so beautiful and unique and it grows on you more and more as you play through the game. The sound is also great. I’m a fan of the sound effects even more than the soundtrack. The sounds Yoshi makes are just over-the-top cute from the grunts he makes when he flails his legs for a bit more jump length to the sounds he make when spitting eggs at enemies. Come to think of it everything in the game is over-the-top cute through visuals, sound effects and even animations. When Yoshi is hit Baby Mario floats away in a bubble while crying and wailing in a cute manner also. Backgrounds and collectibles frequently feature smiling and bouncy flowers, mountains and clouds.
But the true shining feature of Yoshi’s Island is the gameplay. This game has several things that differ a bit from other Mario platformers. After beating a world your collectibles across all those levels are tallied up and you’re awarded extra lives based on that. Scoring a 100 will unlock two extra levels for that world. Each level has five sunflowers, which often require a bit of exploration and puzzles to collect and when all are found will award one life. Several levels have a unique power-up for Yoshi which changes him into a different vehicle for a short time, each of which allow you to traverse in ways you otherwise cannot. All of those mechanics encourage exploration through levels instead of simply trying to sprint through them in the fastest way possible.
Looking at the new Yoshi game Yoshi’s Woolly World, its easy to see the influences Yoshi’s Island played in its development as it is also based around a unique art style and promoting exploration. Yoshi’s Island is one of the best platformers of all-time without a doubt and is my favorite Mario game aside from Super Mario Bros 3. If you have a SNES it is a crime not to add this game to your collection.