The game starts off with an entertaining intro set in a very childish, even baby setting and style. This style will follow throughout the game and on first glance will make you think you have put the wrong cartridge in, however the unique style of the game adds depth and character on a whole different level. The story starts off showing poor baby Mario is helpless to a constant threat from the enemy, knowing this the Yoshi's of the island have decided its there duty to protect baby Mario on the voyage ahead.
A Mario game without Mario leading, madness I hear you cry. Whilst such an idea should be frowned upon in most conditions, this is one case where Yoshi shines as the lead role providing entertainment for hours to come. As with most Mario titles the game is extremely straightforward, with tutorials for each and every new situation that you will encounter. The typical abilities are maintained in this title with the usual jump, eat and spit abilities of Yoshi, there is however a new and interesting ability to consume the enemy you have just eaten, producing an egg that can be thrown in all directions for use in puzzles and as an attack.
These simple controls help to keep the game simple and suitable for all age and skill groups. As you progress through the levels your main target is to get to the end. Whilst that would be entertaining enough there is a points system which is truly magnificent added on top. The system works by providing collectable items throughout the level that the player must try to collect, be it in hidden locations or just out of reach areas. Upon completion of the level, your items are counted and points are given.
The points system is simple yet genius. Not only do you have the fun and simplicity of completing a level, you also have a requirement to collect a specific amount of items on your travels. Simply skipping the need to obtain points will leave future levels locked, needing you to return and obtain more points. Such a basic system steps the game from enjoyable gameplay to rewarding, achieving and enjoyable gameplay with added replay value of obtaining a higher rank of points.
Lastly on the level system in place, levels are split into short varied environments with a ranged of tasks needed to complete, these levels have checkpoints to help ease the annoyance of failing. Failure comes in two forms. Every time Yoshi is attacked he loses Baby Mario who will slowly float off, you will have a countdown to obtain Baby Mario before he has been kidnapped. Alternatively you can also simply die if you are hurt in specific conditions (i.e. falling off a cliff or landing on a spike).
The levels themselves are often varied in style and landscape, but usually feature the same type of techniques needed to progress. After a certain number of levels have been completed you will progress onto a Boss Stage which provide some entertaining dialog and well thought boss creations to defeat. These battles are usually epic in size requiring unique methods to complete. You will also find that the boss's are familiar faces from the levels, often normal enemies that have been altered to 10x there original size.
Whilst the levels are entertaining they are admittedly rather easy to complete, this could be compensated by a lengthy game but this is not the case with Yoshi's Island, the game can easily be completed within 5hours. Although there is replay included in the form of the points system I find it a shame that the length of the package can spoil an otherwise fulfilling experience.
Graphically the game is fantastic featuring a unique style for the game using etched cartoon style graphics and flawless animations. The levels were varied in theme and colour, changing from lava to grass to snow. I specifically took note of the fantastic enemy sprites, being original and well animated providing little re-use as compared to most sprite based games of the same time.
Lastly the sound and music provided was of excellent quality. Whilst there are not too many music tracks included in the game they have been beautifully composed and resemble the best in music creation to be expected with most first party Nintendo games, rememberable and well suited to the current situations and environments. The sound effects are also of great quality
All in all, this is a fantastic platform adventure that should not be missed. I am glad to return to such a fantastic Mario adventure. Back in his time the plumber himself could do no wrong, anyone to view Mario titles in their current state should take a look at how amazing they used to be.