When the N64 launched back in 1996 (1997 in the UK) it ushered in a new era of fancy 3D adventuring. The 2D platformers of previous generations were considered old hat, with most developers taking a bold step into the world of 3D either on the N64, PlayStation, Dreamcast, or PC. Thusly, when Yoshi’s Story was unveiled as a 2D platformer… people thought Nintendo had lost its mind.
Some developers, such as Treasure – the Mischief Makers lot, still thought there was a market there, but Nintendo’s shift forwards with Super Mario 64 (a colossal statement to the industry in 1996) was followed by what appeared to be this anti-climax. Reviews were a bit snippy at the time, not helped by the game’s apparently short length, but 20 years on we’re still rather fond of it. Indeed.
Yoshi’s Story launched in December 1997 in Nippon and March of 1998 in America and Europe. A sequel to one of the SNES’ finest classics, Yoshi’s Island, there was as a result a great deal of anticipation for Yoshi’s next adventure, especially since Super Mario 64 had been such a monumental achievement and critical darling.
Whilst its vivid pre-rendered 3D graphics have helped the game age well compared to many of its N64 peers, at the time a lot of the press (and gamers) were befuddled by the decision not to make Yoshi’s latest experience a 3D adventure romp.
Hideki Konno directed the game (he’s most famous for leading the Mario Kart series), Nintendo first envisaged this one being a good launch title for the, innovative but ultimately rather pointless, 64DD (which did eventually turn up, but in Japan only).
Once it hit the shelves, the reaction from the gaming press was muted. The “too easy” and “too short” criticisms flew around all across the world. There’s no denying it didn’t turn out to be the timeless classic people were hoping for, but to dismiss its shortcomings is to miss out on a game which has many fantastic features.
That’s One Adorable Soundtrack
The sense of fun the soundtrack and graphics create is remarkable. The soundtrack is bloody adorable and somewhat similar to Rayman Origins, which was released in 2011. It’s got real joyous heart and creativity behind it, although it’s potentially divisive – the game is so goddamn adorable, it does threaten to overlap into life threatening nausea at times.
The game’s opening music is so overwhelmingly cute we’ve decided not to add it here (we later realised whilst editing this, the music is in the trailer at the top… whatever). We’re a family blog, dammit, we’d never destroy your lives like that! The Yoshis are also insanely cute and do too much likable stuff to go into detail here – so it’s a VERY kid friendly game. Nintendo often get, inaccurately, accused of being “for kids” only, but this one definitely does have a children friendly air about it.
Was that the misstep? Nintendo’s games are for all ages and you’d have to be a halfwit to deny yourself reveling in some of the company’s other titles (Zelda, Mario Kart, Metroid etc.), but this one is just too easy. However, the “it’s too short” argument doesn’t do the game justice and misses the point of what Yoshi’s Story is intended to be.
Okay, so we decided to include the intro music. What sadists we are. Now, you see, between reading incredibly serious, bleak, existential novels and watching challenging films, we often kick back in the most bizarrely happy way possible. Nintendo’s games are just bloody good fun. Yoshi’s Story certainly did push the realms of cute-overload, though.
Anyway, returning to the “it’s too short” thing – similarly with the recent Super Mario Odyssey (where collecting stars is the main part of the game, which does give the impression it’s too short, a criticism we levelled at it), this one is really about opening up all the stages (there are a lot of them), revisiting them, and perfecting a high score.
We dedicated quite a lot of time to doing so in 1998 and found a rewarding and enjoyable title as a result. It was certainly quite an odd route for Nintendo to take, as many gamers simply blasted through it and thought they’d been conned of money, so it’s interesting to note subsequent Yoshi titles have veered well clear of the Yoshi’s Story approach. Rather.