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REVIEW: Yoshi’s New Island (3DS)

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  • Nintendo 3DS / Rated E / $39.99 / released March 2014
  • OFFICIAL SITE: yoshisnewisland.nintendo.com
  • FINAL: You can SKIP this game. 2 out of 5 stars

Back in the 1990s, the fans of “Super Mario Bros” grew up a bit and wanted something a little more challenging than Mario’s run-to-the-right-and-jump style. Nintendo responded with “Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island” in 1995, taking that simple concept and plussing it up with a pile of complicated moves and attacks. With Yoshi the dinosaur’s fluttery jump, extendible tongue, and unexpected ability to create and throw eggs, it was a whole new “Mario World.”

Yoshi’s New Island,” now out for Nintendo 3DS, is the latest in the core Yoshi series, once again taking gamers back to piloting Mario’s dinosaur buddy. The story is still the same: the baby brothers Mario and Luigi have been separated just as the stork was set to deliver them to their parents. Yoshi – more accurately, an entire tribe of differently-colored Yoshis – takes up the task of carrying Baby Mario to safety while searching for lost Baby Luigi.

Yoshi’s bag of tricks are also the same as before, with the addition of the impressive Eggdozer. Every now and then a giant-sized enemy will appear, which Yoshi can turn into a massive metal egg that can be rolled forward to smash through barriers.

Nintendo is aware that “New Island” has a lot of complexity in it. Hint boxes appear all over the place, happy to remind you of how to progress through the next section. It’s unfortunate that most of what Yoshi does is not intuitive. Even something as outwardly simple as defeating a large baddie is prefaced with a text hint suggesting you “hit this enemy three times!” “New Island” sits in an uncomfortable place where it knows you have a lot to do, but it is sure you won’t be able to figure it out.

Similarly, it does not want to tax you. If you come across an area where you need to throw eggs, the game will have an egg box there. Normally, Yoshi is expected to swallow enemies to turn them into eggs. But if you run out of eggs, well, there’s the free egg box. Again, it’s this whole weird thing where the game doesn’t want you to get stuck, so it helps you out whether you need it or not.

The Eggdozers are treated in the same way. When you need one, there it is. The game does not generate a natural feeling to explore and discover, instead it funnels you from one scene to the next and tells you how to get through it.

The overall picture is that “Yoshi’s New Island” is very methodical and very dull.

The situation is not helped by a scribbly art style which is not done any favors by the 3DS’s small, pixelated screen. A sharper resolution would go a long way towards making this Kindergarten coloring book more palatable, but the 3DS hardware just does not have the chops to pull off smooth watercolors.

Yoshi’s New Island” paints by the numbers, ticking off all of the franchise’s classic elements without ever finding a cohesive path in which to present them.

This review is based on product supplied by the publisher. Image courtesy Nintendo of America.