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Super NES Classic Reviews Game by Game #18: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

Join us as we review every Super NES Classic game. Next up: We encourage you to pick random babies off the ground and run with them.

Review by Nadia Oxford, .

Join us as we review all the games on the SNES Classic Mini Edition in chronological order!

Mario brought the SNES into the world, and Mario held the console's hand as it started its journey into obsolescence. Uh, except Mario was an adult when the SNES was born, and he was a baby when the N64 began opening its mouth to swallow up its predecessor. It's complicated.

Nowadays, the Yoshi's Island games are considered a spin-off of the mainline Mario series, but Nintendo rocked the "Super Mario World 2" title extension on the box of the premiere Yoshi's Island. Looking back, that decision was a bit of a risk: Released in the latter half of 1995, Yoshi's Island plays differently from popular platformers at the time, e.g. the Donkey Kong Country series. But anyone who takes a chance on this indescribably charming sequel (prequel?) to Mario's first SNES adventure is guaranteed to be smiling within five minutes.

Mario is an infant throughout the entirety of Yoshi's Island. The man's name is right there in the game's title, but he probably can't even read it. Our future hero is incapable of doing anything except staring and screaming through what's canonically his "first" adventure (and pooping, I guess – woe to the Yoshis carrying him on their backs). Though I doubt the Yoshis who find baby Mario have any rules against barbequing babies that fall out of the sky, the plucky pack of dinosaurs instead pledges to reunite Mario with his kidnapped twin brother across the island. Yoshis are good people.

If a bad guy is holding something, that's your cue to serve them an uncooked omelette.

Controlling the Yoshi Rescue Squad (one dinosaur at a time, thankfully) comes naturally to anyone who's ridden a Yoshi in other Mario games. But the Yoshis living on Yoshi's Island are better-equipped than the critters native to Super Mario World. They can flick their tongues upwards as well as sideways. They can flutter-jump over big gaps. They can eat fruits that give their breath a devastating kick. Most importantly, they can suck down foes and turn them into eggs, then lob the protein-rich projectiles at objects, event triggers, and other enemies. When you think about it, Yoshi's Island is full of Shyguys who watched their brothers get eaten by dinosaurs, then had the remnants of their loved ones literally thrown in their face. Brutal.

Speaking of brutal, Yoshi's Island isn't nearly as forgiving as the first Super Mario World title. Completing a vanilla run of the game isn't too tough, but if you want to find everything each stage offers – Red Coins, Stars, and Flowers – start cracking your knuckles. Even the game's earliest stages take a lot of work to complete fully. You need to attain a sharp eye for anything that looks slightly out-of-place in your candy-coated surroundings, and you also need to become a crackshot. Eggs collect items as effectively as bodily touching them, and there are a whole lot of goodies that stay out of reach unless you're adept at angling your bullets.

If you don't talk to your kids about Touching Fuzzy and Getting Dizzy, who will?

Unlike most collect-a-thon games, however, Yoshi's Island rewards you well for your efforts. If you get 100% on every level in a world, you gain access to a secret level (two secret levels if you happen to be playing the Game Boy Advance port of the game). It's tough going, but it's ideal post-game content for anyone who's up for a hearty challenge.

Luckily, it's no chore to re-visit Yoshi's Island; getting sucked into the exotic locale is easier than swallowing a Little Mouser. Yoshi's Island might be the liveliest-looking place Nintendo's ever designed thanks to its storybook-inspired graphics. Everything in this game moves, breathes, dances, sings, and walks on stilts. Crystal-studded caves are complimented by tall waterfalls, and even familiar death traps like mini-fortresses surprise you with hazards that pop out of the background. And then there's the epic boss fights with huge enemies that squash and stretch across the screen thanks to the Super FX2 Chip. Though Nintendo revisited Yoshi's Island again and again on its other consoles, it couldn't rekindle the first game's visual spark until Yoshi's Woolly World for the Wii U.

"Not it." Not it." Not it." Not it." Not it." Not it." Not it." "Not -- dammit."

Ironically, Mario is the weakest link in his own sequel. The little squirt doubles as Yoshi's life bar, and if the dino gets hit by a foe, Mario falls out of the saddle and screams like all the devils of hell are after him. And, well, I guess that's not an inaccurate simile: A timer counts down as soon as Mario gets separated from Yoshi, and if that timer hits zero, Mario is whisked away by Kamek's goons and Yoshi loses a life.

If you ran a cheese grater across your scalp, you'd have a physical equivalent of enduring Baby Mario's cry. I get it: You're supposed to be prodded into action when he starts wailing. A baby's cry is biologically engineered to make people react. Still, talk about the one video game sound effect that's more capable of stressing you out more than Sonic the Hedgehog's underwater suffocation countdown. It's a good thing I never played Yoshi's Island when I still lived at home. Mario's cry has surely driven some parents to say, "OK. Turn that off. Now."

In other words, make damn sure you play Super Mario Bros 2: Yoshi's Island if you haven't already, but make sure you play it well enough so Mario stays planted firmly on Yoshi's back. I'd say, "Just turn down the volume," but then you'd miss out on one of the best Mario soundtracks of all time. Man. Life's rough.

Nintendo's tried to re-capture the charm of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island again and again, but the dinosaur's SNES adventure is still his best one, hands-down. Yoshi's Island is lively, clever, challenging, and fun – even though Baby Mario's scream can peel paint off walls.

5 /5

Super NES Classic Reviews Game by Game #18: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island Nadia Oxford Join us as we review every Super NES Classic game. Next up: We encourage you to pick random babies off the ground and run with them. 2017-09-06T21:40:00-04:00 5 5

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Comments 13

  • Avatar for MetManMas #1 MetManMas 2 months ago
    For some time after playing Yoshi's Island on GBA, I thought Baby Mario's crying wasn't as bad as people made it out to be. But then I tried replaying the SNES original via emulation. And quickly realized that the crying was higher pitched in the SNES original.

    Oh well, Baby Mario still ain't got nothing on Baby Peach.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #2 riderkicker 2 months ago
    @MetManMas Like many people, Yoshi's Island on the GBA was the first and only time I ever played this game. I hadn't yet discovered emulation, and if I did, the emulators then probably couldn't handle it. I had a lot of fun, but didn't really turn on the sound as with other GB games. Played it on TV, definitely got annoyed at Baby Mario. Still love this game.
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  • Avatar for Woogity #3 Woogity 2 months ago
    Best platformer of all time. Totally worth suffering through Mario's crying.
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  • Avatar for MARl0 #4 MARl0 2 months ago
    This is the best 2D platformer of all time. Without question. When this game originally released on the SNES, it felt unreal just how good it was. And to this day, it's also still absolutely gorgeous.
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  • Avatar for StrwbrryJams #5 StrwbrryJams 2 months ago
    As someone who only ever Hyderabad the GBA version growing up (and I don't think I finished that one), I am greatly looking forward to this!
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  • Avatar for moochan #6 moochan 2 months ago
    Would say Yarn Yoshi on Wii U was great. Maybe not as amazing as Yoshi's Island but that's an insane bar to clear. I say everyone should give it a shot. As for the original yeah it's amazing. I get why some people hate the controls but they work beautifully even if a bit on the complicated side at times (run, pick up egg, throw egg in a jump hoping to hit that one shyguy!). But as a whole everything feels new to you or nothing is redone enough that it feels bored. Nice surprise of the bringing it to the SNES Mini and I guess this also means Switch VC (if we ever get it).
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #7 LBD_Nytetrayn 2 months ago
    @moochan Definitely the first truly worthy sequel.
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  • Avatar for yuberus #8 yuberus 2 months ago
    Oh man. I 100% completed this game back in the day. And then my brother had a friend over and they saved over my file. Yes, the game has two other slots, but for some goddamn reason that didn't stop them. I haven't been able to play all the way through it since - too disheartening.

    Also, I've found that while it's still technically good and fun and everything, it just doesn't click with me like it used to. It's kind of... boring? Especially if you're looking for all the secrets. And hey, it's a slower paced game than even Mario World owing to the lack of a timer, I get it. But it needs a certain mindset to really sit down and enjoy, I think.
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  • Avatar for BulkSlash #9 BulkSlash 2 months ago
    Yoshi's Island it pretty good but I do find some of the design decisions annoying, like some levels prevent the player from backtracking to a previous area. When you're trying to find that last elusive red coin or flower and aren't sure which area it's in, it's very annoying having to restart the level just to search an earlier section again.

    Also, the game is often too miserly with stars. It's not easy to beat a level without taking a single hit! I think Yoshi's Woolly World really got that right by allowing the player to finish collecting the coins, flowers and stars on separate play throughs of a level.

    Visually, Yoshi's Island is still one of the most unique games ever, it's just a shame the requirements to finish a level with full marks can be quite draconian.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #10 SargeSmash 2 months ago
    I remember seeing this set up in a Walmart, and playing it for a bit. I knew right then and there that I had to have the game. Of course, being a kid with very little money made that tough, but I ended up finding it at a pawn shop for $15, so yay! I think it's the best platformer on the SNES.
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  • Avatar for Vonlenska #11 Vonlenska 2 months ago
    This is my favoritest platformer and one of my favoritest games. I think it's perfect. I'm trying, and can't really come up with any flaws worth criticizing. I was just like, "Hmm...wait, was there a pink yoshi?" and scrolled up and yes, indeed, there was a pink yoshi. And purple. Gold. Aqua. Indigo. Dang. Can't even dock it a point for not having a particularly colored dinosaur in it. 110/100
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  • Avatar for Thad #12 Thad 2 months ago
    I bought a copy on ebay recently and I've been enjoying it. Great level and boss design, and truly gorgeous graphical style.
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  • Avatar for mganai #13 mganai 2 months ago
    The one that EGM amazingly never did a review for.

    Not that it needed one in hindsight.

    Like Super Metroid, it was perhaps too good to followup.
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