Yoshi's Island DS (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 04.12.2006 24

Review for Yoshi

The sequel to Super Mario World came in the form of more of a side-story than true follow-up. Yet Yoshi’s Island became an instant classic and massive hit with Nintendo fans on the SNES and a very strong seller in its GBA port form years after the shaky Yoshi’s Story appeared on the N64. Now Nintendo has entrusted Artoon, the team behind Yoshi’s Universal Gravitation (which Cubed3 actually liked…), with a new DS version…but is it anywhere near as good as the legendary first outing? Can Artoon keep the dream alive for all those fans? You certainly have to hope so…

This time round, poor Luigi has been baby-napped by the pesky magician Kamek. In fact, it is not only baby Luigi that is lifted away to the mysterious floating castle in the sky, but lots of other young tots as well. Thankfully, Mario, Peach, Donkey Kong and even baby Wario manage to escape his wicked clutches. With the multi-coloured Yoshi family on-hand to offer transportation, the four set about their rescue mission in this new, colourful adventure.

And when I say 'colourful' it is no lie, as Yoshi's Island DS is bursting with over-exuberant flair, bright shades and wonderful charisma. The SNES had to rely on its Super FX2 chip to help squeeze out the gorgeous graphics it had, with its tasty hand-drawn style, but the DS being far more powerful deals with large sprites, multiple on-screen enemies and hordes of flying eggs with the greatest of ease. In fact, because you can tell this is not really pushing the DS, the visual appeal is somewhat negated. Everything also has a far more 'clean' appearance, thus detracting from the original's character to some degree. But the game still succeeds in dazzling gamers in many places; something most Third Party games fail to do.

Screenshot for Yoshi's Island DS on Nintendo DS

Artoon has also done a splendid job recreating the soundtrack's feel as well, re-using snippets of tunes from the 16-bit game, but re-mastering the entire score to give this DS outing its own sense of identity. There are a couple of tracks that seem out of place, such as one country-and-western style, but even these are pleasing enough to not ruin the atmosphere. Other than the peaceful, mellow music, with a few more upbeat tracks mixed in, Yoshi's Island DS does a fantastic job in the sound effects department. Be it the grunting of Yoshi, the cries of the babies when the green dinosaur is hit and loses hold of them, or the various other noises, like eggs being fired, beanstalks growing and the difference between gold and red coins being collected, everything is perfectly fitting for the adventure.

And what an adventure it is! For those thinking that this would merely be New Super Mario Bros. in disguise or a poor man’s Yoshi’s Island, think again. Whereas NSMB struggled at times in terms of variety throughout, YI DS is jam-packed with substance – so much so that newcomers to the platform scene may be overcome with awe. This is definitely not for people who struggled to beat NSMB or even Super Princess Peach. Artoon has crafted a superb entry into the genre, mixing classic gameplay with some extremely nice new elements. The game will prove tough, but not because it is unfair, instead it is due to your lack of finesse in the field!

Screenshot for Yoshi's Island DS on Nintendo DS

For those that missed out on the first game, or its GBA port, you take control of Yoshi and can run, jump, slam into the ground as usual, along with the ability to use his trademark moves – the float-in-the-air and trick of swallowing enemies, turning them into eggs and then being able to fire them off at anything you so desire. The floating comes in very handy when trying to prevent falling off ledges or getting across longer distances. And as for the egg shooting, it can be used in so many ways, for example killing enemies or collecting items that would otherwise be out of reach. He controls just like he did in the past, with no problems at all.

The twist this time round, though, is that depending on the baby a Yoshi is carrying, the extent of his abilities is prone to change. You start off with baby Mario and that is all and when the first change-over takes place and has you in control of baby Peach, you probably will think there is nothing different other than her fetching pink umbrella. That is until you are chased by a large boulder and you fail to out-run it. Yes, it turns out that with Mario, Yoshi can run faster than ever. In turn, though, Peach has her plus points in the form of that lovely accessory – the umbrella. Whenever there is a breeze around, simply hold down the jump button to access Yoshi’s usual float-in-the-air manoeuvre and watch in amazement as you fly in whichever direction the wind is blowing.

Screenshot for Yoshi's Island DS on Nintendo DS

Of course, this means that certain aspects of a level can be only reached using Peach as your baby of choice. And so begins the heart of the gameplay, with each baby adding something different to the adventure. For instance, once Donkey Kong is unlocked you will have the ability to do a strong forward charge that breaks through strong blocks, plus he can climbs vines dotted around stages or swing around whenever possible. As for Wario, well, we all know how much he loves money...and sure enough his specialty is bringing a magnetic ability to the fold. Devious, even as a child child – not surprising in the slightest!

But the fun does not stop there, as Artoon has dragged the classic morph ability back for the ride, meaning that Yoshi can magically transform into such things as a helicopter or digging machine for a short period of time. However, you are never left stuck as if the timer runs out, you merely have to hit the morph box once more and transform again for another attempt at reaching your goal. There has been talk about the gap between screens being a problem – but gamers can scale the screen up or down to see what is going on in most cases. As for those moments where things are ‘lost’ in the gap, it actually adds to the fun, meaning you must simply hone your aiming skills before letting loose with a vital egg. With open levels that let you roam around to your heart’s content, as well as some that are on rails, meaning that should you not progress quick enough, poor Yoshi will fall to his death, as well as numerous mini-games available, this DS outing is miles better than Artoon’s previous Yoshi platform game, Universal Gravitation, and not too far from the original gem.

And, thankfully, it is not an experience that will be over all too soon. Each of the levels in the game is much longer than those found in NSMB, and they all make you work extremely hard to collect all five special flowers, twenty red coins, thirty health stars and the hidden character coin contained within each one – having to use each baby’s abilities throughout a level to gain that 100% score. And there is actually motivation to bother getting a perfect on each stage, since they open up extras as well. The game is not one for putting down quickly, one because it is so much fun and two due to it having so much to offer. Also, as if all of that was not enough, there may well be another baby I have not mentioned that becomes available later in the game…!

Screenshot for Yoshi's Island DS on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

And so here we are, the final score for a sequel to one of the most-loved Nintendo platformers of all-time. It may not be solely Nintendo at the reigns this time, but Artoon has succeeded in keeping the classic feel, whilst advancing the game sufficiently to maintain a fresh feeling all round. Do not hesitate to pick this one up for Christmas...






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (20 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Wasn't expecting that high a score to be honest! Great stuff, I'm waiting til Christmas for this one...

Great review...might pick this up...not straight away because i just got a platformer (NewSMB)

I loved the GBA version

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++

Even GameCentral gave this game 8/10 and them boys don't give them out too often.

Nice review Raz.

Defintely getting this in Feburary or something.

Looks great, hope it get's some good sales.

Has it been released in America or Japan yet?

Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he [Richard Ashcroft] promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."

It's out in the US, but won't be out in Japan for another week or so, because of the Wii launch.

People are expecting it to make a million in Japan, but I'm not so sure because of all the Wii hype. It'll be interesting to see how well this does in the UK...

*Checks* No.14 on the DS chart?!?! WTH?!?! :eek:

Well done Nintendo... :roll:

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Nice review!

Received this from Amazon today, although I am not able to play it until Christmas day. :-(

Still, this review has only heightened my expectations.

I particularly like the idea of the babies, although I read somewhere that baby Wario is not used so much, and seems more like a rushed addition. Is this the case?

King of the 'League of Kings'||My deviantART|| My Photography

The main ones are the first three (of five) - Mario, Peach and DK. The other two are basically like bonus babies...at least that's how I see them.

Oh, and so much for a secret - the last baby's actually shown on the box!

By the way, quick update - No.14 new entry on the DS Top 20 in the UK equates to a No.38 entry on the Top 40 All Format. In comparison, the No.6 PSP game (Medal of Honour: Heroes) only came in at No.39 on the same chart.

So a disaster still, but not as bad as the PSP's performance. I don't understand why YI DS has done so poorly in its first week. It deserves to be much higher!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Hmmm, it has only been out for 4 days though. Give it until next weeks charts are out. I am sure that will show a different picture. Espically after all the parents do a bit of Christmas shopping this weekend.

King of the 'League of Kings'||My deviantART|| My Photography

It's just a shame as I really do prefer this to New Super Mario Bros., and whilst seeing that succeed so much is nice (up four to No.13 on the All Format Top 40), YI DS should have at least d

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Thing about platformers is that I can't justify spending the money...Yet you gave it a 10 for value...hm..

I think it will shoot up just like most of Nintendo DS games, ie All time clasics and pokemon.

No.38 on the Full Price Chart = No.16 on DS Chart whoa!!!!!

Saying that Raz i don't think you can blame Nintendo they marketed this bitch like crazy i have seen as much Yoshi Island ads as Zelda ads, no joke

Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he [Richard Ashcroft] promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."

Really? Okay, then I retract my comment. But seriously, that's crazy then! Hey, at least it MADE the Top 40, unlike Viva Pinata...XBOX 360's saviour from Rare!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Viva Pinata didn't even make the top 40?? :( It looked like a decent game! Bet it would've done better on a Nintendo console :tongue:

Yeah, Yoshi's Island DS has been advertised like mad. In a typical hour or two's TV viewing the last few nights in prime time, I've seen a Zelda Wii advert, a Yoshi's Island advert and a Big Brain Academy advert. They're doing big things...

It's a shame Viva Pinata hasn't made it into the top 40 at all, it's quite good from what I played (though not really a game for demo kiosks, it must be said...Smilie.

Apparently Viva Pinata the cartoon is aiming at very small children (4-8 year olds), whilst the game is typical Rare in terms of complexity...meaning it doesn't appeal to its supposed core audience.

Anyway, Yoshi's Island isn't for kids either, despite its appearance. It's bloody HARD!

But there are cool little references, like little crocodiles that chomp along vines when using Baby DK to climb...Cracking game - all UK C3'ers should pick this up as a warm-up to Wii :-D

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

How would you rate Yoshis Island DS against other DS games?
Just tell how insanely good it is, I really want to get hyped up for it. Will make Christmas day all the merrier when I finally get my mitts on it!

King of the 'League of Kings'||My deviantART|| My Photography

Depends what other games you like...but sticking on the platform genre so far it'd be:

Yoshi's Island DS ---------> New Super Mario Bros. ---> Super Princess Peach

In my opinion... :Smilie It's a tie between this and Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin for my fave DS game of the year (right now), with Kirby Squeak Squad just behind both of them.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Phoenix Wright 2 doesn't creep in there Adam? I am shocked, shocked and appalled. Smilie

Oh crap, yeah - forgot about that! Bloody hell...the Christmas round-up is going to be a bloody nightmare!

Anyway, YI DS seems to have gotten off to a strong start in the US, apparently. I've not heard much else about its Japanese release, though. As for the rest of Europe, I'll update you all as soon as I can find info :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I was watching a few videos on youtube, and, in the videos I saw, it was the same tune in every level, but altered slightly. This isn't the case for most of the game is it?
Do any of the tunes live up to standards of thisbady boy, or perhaps thisclassic?

(I really hope that I have not screwed up those links!)

King of the 'League of Kings'||My deviantART|| My Photography

I'm getting it for Christmas... I am a little disappointed about the art style going out the window, but it still looks awesome... I just love staring at the screenshots and thinking of all the wonderful times I had playing the original ;-;

Still a proud member of the 'omfg amazing water in games' society

Adam i would love to get this to warm me up for the Wii but i ain't got the money i haven't bought a DS game since NSMB

Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he [Richard Ashcroft] promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."

Hurrah! A DS game worth buying!

I'll get it Saturday during my Christmas shopping.

Tom Barry [ Reviewer - Editor - Resident Sim-Racer @ Cubed3.com ] 

Its pretty simple why this won't sell, well, in the first week of release....Wii!

A few people i no who have DS's have said the same thing. Thats

Good to hear :Smilie Hopefully we can get as many C3 readers to give this a go. If you've played NSMB and enjoyed it, then you'll love this!

Ashcroft, I'm the same actually - rather strapped for cash. I've actually had to ask my mum (!) to buy me a Wii for Christmas and my wife's getting me Zelda :roll:

By the way, the music in this game is definitely very impressive, but I'd still say it's a notch below the standard set in the original...Hmm, I'll give those MIDI files a listen and see how the new tunes compare Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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