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Retrospective: Yoshi’s Story

Today’s Smash Bros. update reminded of that quirky N64 platformer, Yoshi’s Story, one that was not taken too well by critics.


IGN – 7.0

Yoshi’s Story is a fun 2D platformer that is a joy to look at and provides a fair challenge if you’re into competing for high scores. But nobody can deny that when you leave away the better control, vibrant graphics, and quality sound, Yoshi’s Story is in essence just a stripped down version of Yoshi’s Island.

GameSpot – 5.3

It’s probably unfair to try to compare this title with Super Mario World and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, the company’s last – and fantastic – 2D forays into the wonderful realm of Mario. It’s likewise also wrongful to expect every successive game that appears from under master designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s wing to be even more impressive than the last (especially since he left this one to his right-hand man, Takashi Tezuka, to act as the main producer). With that said and done, taken to heart and judged on its own merits, Nintendo’s Yoshi’s Story still comes off as a very disappointing experience indeed.

It has an average of 63% on Game

I actually enjoyed the game quite a bit. In a time where everyone was making the shift to 3D, Shigeru Miyamoto gave his right hand man the reigns of the Yoshi franchise, and while many may not have liked the game very much, there’s no denying its influence on the Mario series. Yoshi’s Story has had influences on a lot of games since its release, including Yoshi’s current appearance–probably the most notable. Yoshi never stood upright until this game had him doing so.

The infamous fish that pounced from the depths and swallowed you whole…

The game’s controls were tight and responsive, allowing for maneuvers not possible with a D-pad. Yoshi could sneak, fling his tongue at any angle, and swim in 360 degrees of motion. The gameplay was very simple and mostly uninspired, perhaps, but it had a lot of style. The storybook worlds made of paper, wood, and cloth were unlike anything on the market at the time, making a 2D game look great. The animation was slick and smooth for sprite-based stuff, and the overall atmosphere was put together excellently.

Too bad image capturing tech sucked at the time…

The gameplay seemed shallow at first–you only needed to beat 6 stages to complete the game and there was only a total of 24–but the mechanic of a score was what added play value. If you had a drive for getting high scores, the game could last you a long while. You couldn’t just eat any fruit you wanted, you had to eat strings of fruit, preferably melons. Finding all of the melons in a stage proved to be quite the task for myself back in the day–it look a good long while.

Yoshi’s Story had great graphics, catchy songs and vibrant sound effects, but what it lacked was real challenge and originality in its gameplay. Getting all of the melons and topping off your score could take a long while and was a challenge to some extent, but for the most part, the platforming was uninspired and like many things before it. Level design was a but lax most of the time, with a few stages sporting some sweet designs–a few. Despite all of this, a child (as I was at the time) could really enjoy the game for a long time, and while the gameplay may not have been as up to snuff as Yoshi’s Island fans were hoping, it was a fun game, and its colorful atmosphere and style has lived on in the Smash Bros. series.

The Yoshi’s Story renditions in Smash Bros. 64 and Smash Bros. Melee.

Oozing more personality than most games out at the time, Yoshi’s Story was a unique and memorable endeavor that lives on in the memories of 64 gamers, and holds a special place in my childhood.


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