The green little egg-laying he/she (I’m assuming it’s a he) dinosaur has been part of the Nintendo stable since his introduction in Super Mario World on the SNES. It did not take very long for the popular sidekick to spawn his own game on the SNES, aptly named Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. This was later ported to the GBA, known as Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 and now you can download it on the Wii U. Questions is – has this dinosaur aged well with time or is it still stuck in the ice age?
Things start off with baby Mario and Luigi’s Stork being attacked by Kamek the wizard. Luigi, the poor sod, comes off worse and is kidnapped by Kamek. Mario on the other hand drops into the woods below and is discovered by an Island of Yoshi’s. Being the positive creatures they are they decide to assist Baby Mario in uniting him with his sibling, and so the adventure begins.
Players will take control of Yoshi, with Baby Mario attached to his back. Your aim is to not lose Baby Mario. Should you be pounced on or touched by a foe Baby Mario goes floating off in a bubble, whereby you have a limited time to collect him before Kamek’s slaves makes off with him. Your general Yoshi skills are at play, with his tongue being one of his most important and crucial weapons. A press of the B button will have him lashing out his tongue and consuming anything that moves. Press down on the D-Pad, once you have a Shy Guy in your mouth, and he converts the little WEEEOWW guy into an egg. With up to six eggs you can do some serious damage to your enemies.
Press the R button to bring up a reticule that aims your egg in an ‘up and down’ motion. It’s up to you to stop the egg by pressing the L button to keep it at a certain angle, or press the R button again to unleash an egg at some foes face. You can also jump on some enemy heads, but be aware that the enemies in this game are clever when compared to Goomba’s of Super Mario. They might have a set of their own tricks.
Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 is made up out of six worlds that comprises of two boss battles and six stages in each world. It might sound as if it’s very short, but you’d be surprised. The stages aren’t your general point A to B scenarios. You’re always on the lookout for hidden locations that brings quite a bit of vertical space into the equation. It’s here where some of Yoshi’s other skills makes this adventure a unique experience. Yoshi can hover in mid-air for a moment by pressing in and holding the A button, but he can also morph into other objects such as a helicopter, mole and submarine. There are only specific stages that activates this morphing feature so be on the lookout for the ‘morph icon’.
Moving about the skies, underwater and through soil really does feel fresh when you first experience it. Keep in mind that you only stay in that form for a limited time, so time is of the essence if you’re after a secret. The good news is that general play is not timed. At no point did I ever feel rushed when trying to solve a puzzle, like trying to find a way to locate an item that’s in sight but can’t be reached. Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 is also a great example of what the clever minds and Nintendo were capable of in terms of graphics. Because of the unique art style it’s aged exceptionally well. Press your left stick in on the Wii U Gamepad and you can jump between crisp and smooth graphics. (I recommend that you keep it to smooth for your telly and to crisp if you’re playing it on your Gamepad).
Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 is an absolute joy to play so many years later. There is so much for you to discover and enjoy. Every stage brings with it a new challenge and the tutorial throughout the game gradually guides you through the game. If there’s one Virtual Console game you buy this should probably be it.