Review: Super Mario World 2 – Yoshi’s Island (SNES)

In this review, we get ready to rescue Luigi in the Super Nintendo (SNES) game Super Mario World 2 – yoshi’s Island. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1995. It is a somewhat unique game in the series as it features Baby Mario for the first time at this point.

We are already quite familiar with the Super Mario franchise. We previously reviewed Mario Brothers. We found the game to be half decent, though nothing huge. We then reviewed the much more famous early game, Super Mario Bros.. That game got a great score here. We also reviewed an additional port of the original Mario Bros. That game didn’t fare so well thanks to its dated nature. We went back to the classic NES trilogy with Super Mario Bros. 2. that game also got a great score and would be the best score yet. We then finished off the classic NES trilogy with Super Mario Bros. 3. That game ended up being the best game yet with a near perfect score.

We then tried some spinoff games with Dr. Mario for the NES. That game got a decent enough score. For kicks, we also tried the Game Boy version of Dr. Mario. we found that game to be decent, but nothing huge.

Continuing on with the franchise on a new system, we tried Super Mario World. That game got an incredible score, as it adds another big score notch to the franchise. In addition to this, we tried Super Mario Kart which was also released on the same system. That game too got a great score. We also tried Mario is Missing! on the same system. That game was the poorest showing in quality on the system we’ve seen so far. Then there is the game Super Mario RPG – Legend of the Seven Stars. That game turned things around and got yet another fantastic score.

We also tried the Game Boy game Super Mario Land 2 – 6 Golden Coins. That game proved to us that Mario can look great in a Game Boy game as it got another fantastic score.

Moving onto the next systems, we tried Super Mario 64. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, that game got a near excellent score. This was followed up by Super Mario Kart 64. That game continued to show this franchise is on a roll with another great score. We then tried Super Mario Advance. That game ended up not faring so well with only an average score. This was followed up by Paper Mario. While that game was pretty good, it wasn’t an amazing game that many seem to think it is.

Rounding things out, we tried Super Mario Sunshine. That game surprised us with such a poor showing as it barely garnered a passable score. We then played Super Mario 64 DS. That was OK, though a significant step back considering the origins of that game. Finally, we tried Dr. Mario & Puzzle League. That game too merely got an OK score.

So, suffice to say, we know the Mario franchise quite well. Today, we decided to step back a bit and play one of the games we missed on the SNES. Going into this game, this is yet another game that received universal acclaim and has been showered with praise with many retrospective reviews. So, naturally, we wanted to give this game a try as well.

The game follows a stork which is delivering twins to expecting parents. Along the way, the stork is intercepted by Kamek who attempts to kidnap the both of them. The motive, of course, is that Kamek foresees the two wreaking havoc on the Koopa Kingdom (in a way, accurately so). So, his plot is to kidnap the both of them so they will never grow up to be hero’s.

Unfortunately for him, he only manages to snatch Luigi. Mario, meanwhile, plummets down from the sky and lands on Yoshi’s island. Yoshi manages to catch Mario while a map falls down next to him. Unsure what to do, Yoshi takes Mario to the other Yoshi’s. Although the Yoshi’s can’t really understand the map, it is determined that Mario knows where he wants to go. So, they enact a relay system to get him to his brother. This is in spite of the numerous enemies trying to kidnap Mario in the process.

One of the said features this game has is the fact that, regardless of where you are in the game, there is always something new to encounter. This is largely accurate because I could probably fill an entire encyclopedia of things you could encounter. So, we’re in no way going to even attempt to be exhaustive in our description here. Instead, we’ll just offer some highlights.

A great place to start here is the health system. It is quite unique in how damage works in this game. There is a star system set in place. You start off with 10 stars. If you get hit, Baby Mario will float around in a bubble. For every second Mario isn’t on Yoshi’s back, you lose a star. If you fall to zero, then Baby Mario is kidnapped and you lose a life. If you touch Mario after getting hit, you’ll get a hold of him and stop the count down. If you fall below 10, then your stars will regenerate on their own all the way back up to 10.

Along the way, you can encounter stars. If you collect any, you’ll recover even more star points for a maximum of 30. Stars can be found by hitting enemies with a specific color egg, by popping question mark clouds, or passing through a star ring. Star rings act as checkpoints. If you die, you can continue from the star ring. A star ring will grant 10 star points. In addition to this, the star ring can turn any enemy on screen into a walking star. Collect them for additional star points.

Another critical item in this game are coins. Like other Mario games, if you collect 100 coins, you get a free life. More critically, however, are the red coins. Hidden among the yellow coins are red coins. You can almost tell which yellow coin is a hidden red coin because it has a slightly different hue sometimes. Useful for assessing risk.

A final critical item are the flowers. In total, there are 5 flowers per stage. For each flower you collect, you can get an additional chance at a bonus level.

At the end of each stage is the final ring. Pass through the ring and the game will “spin” you a chance at a bonus level. You have to land on an active flower to win. With all 5 flowers, you seemingly earn a 50/50 chance at it.

After a level is complete, you’ll get to tally up your score. For every star point you have at the end of the level, you earn a point (maximum 30). For every red going, you earn a point (maximum 20). Finally, for every flower point, you earn a whopping 10 points (maximum 50 points for 5 flowers). You’ll earn an additional fan-fare for a perfect score.

There are a number of bonus games you can find yourself playing. There are slots, a scratch-n-win game, a concentration style game, a tile flipping game, and a duel wheel betting game where you can earn lots of free lives. In short, these are games of chance. While some games focus on you getting free lives, others allow you to collect items. Like Super Mario Bro’s 3, you can collect a number of items including a full arsenal of eggs, extra star points, a magnifying glass for revealing red coin locations, seed melons, ice melons, and fire melons. Items can be used when you pause the game. So, as long as you are taking on a level and not a boss (you’ll notice “x”s over all your items during boss fights), you can use these items at any time.

The level system is pretty straight forward. For every world, there are 8 levels. In total, there are 6 worlds to go through. Every fourth and last level is a “castle” level which means you take on a boss at the end of the stage. The final castle level also has a key at stake (with the exception of the last world of course). Earn the world key and you’ll unlock the next world. At any time, you can select between the tabs along the top to replay a level. For every world you beat, the level select music also progresses by adding subtle layers. It’s not immediately noticeable, but you’ll notice by the time you get to world 4 for sure.

Where the huge amounts of variety is located is within the levels themselves. You can encounter numerous obstacles and puzzles. This includes bottomless pits, blue (destructible!) spikes, yellow spikes, bridges, teetering logs, moving platforms, disappearing platforms, destructible dirt walls, cracked bricks, item carrying blocks of ice, buckets, lakes, lava, falling walls, rotating platforms, and one way paths that look like pinball flippers.

One feature many levels have are keys and locked doors. There are a small handful of levels that have more than one locked door and key, but most only have one. The key is typically well hidden, but unlocking these doors can reveal a host of different things. Some of these are simply rooms where you defeat all enemies to collect a prize (flowers mostly, but sometimes other items like a red coin). Other times, you might find yourself taking on an additional bonus level. Most bonus levels give you a chance for a bonus item if you win. These bonus challenges include button matching, balloon popping, and coin collecting. More often then not, it is worth hunting down those keys and unlocking those doors.

While there are countless dangers, Yoshi has a few abilities to survive each level. The basic ability is being able to jump and stomp on enemies. In addition to this, Yoshi can slurp up most enemies and either turn them into eggs or spit them out at enemies. In addition to this is the throwing ability. Throwing can allow you to kit certain things as well as enemies. Sometimes, you can knock down buckets, but most critically, you can collect items this way. You can hit the question mark clouds for additional bonuses or collect coins or flowers that would otherwise be unreachable.

Trying to stop you are numerous enemies. These include Shy Guys, Shy Guys on stilts, fire Shy Guys, penguins, birds, water monsters, lava monsters, water spitting fish, hopping fire monsters, baseball enemies, karate enemies, goo type enemies, and who knows how many other enemies. Most enemies can be turned into eggs. Others can end up just being a delicious snack for Yoshi. A few enemies can’t be slurped up at all.

A big strength in this game is the huge variety of things you can encounter. Like others have suggested already, you are going to be finding something new in each world. Sometimes, you’ll find something new in almost every level. The inherent risk in all of this is the fact that you risk losing your players in a sea of variety. While some games can be overwhelming because of this variety, this game manages to avoid this problem. What is likely the reason is the fact that there are core themes running through the whole game. This is the scoring system and Yoshi’s ability. While the game brings a lot to the table, it doesn’t try to excessively challenge you with each individual feature. It, instead, adds concepts just for flavor instead.

One caveat is the fact that some of these ideas (such as the lifts and platforms with a countdown) seem to be borrowed from the original Mega Man NES series. While it is borrowed, the concepts are seemingly re-purposed and made into new concepts. Because of this, I would say this game was more likely inspired by Mega Man more than anything else. It also brings to the table numerous ideas from previous Mario games.

That said, I do have some actual criticisms towards this game – even if they are minor. One criticism I have is the control responsiveness. Most of the time, they are fine. Unfortunately, from time to time, they seem to just briefly stop responding. The most often I encounter this is when I’m trying to hover with Yoshi. Sometimes, I press jump a second time and it seems the game stops responding to the jump command. This issue sometimes has fatal results as you lose critical altitude trying to reach another platform.

Another criticism I have with this game is that world 4 and 5 seem to have the weakest levels of the game. While I still didn’t mind them, the fun factor for me dropped when I hit these worlds. It does pick up at world 6, but there is that lull in the gameplay. Again, this is a more minor problem for me as there are interesting things you can encounter in these worlds.

Still, I don’t have very many criticisms to wage against this game. It was a very enjoyable game. It has a huge variety of things to do. There are plenty of levels to work your way through. While the controls may from time to time be less than perfect, it was a real treat to see the creativity here. While I can’t say this game is incredibly strong from beginning to end thanks to a bit of a lull, the other worlds were very well done. The difficulty curve was well thought out. It allows you time to learn things in the game while not insulting your intelligence. So, a great game to play.

Graphically speaking, many games in this era allow you to nitpick the tiling textures and whatnot. In this game, there is such a well conceived artistic style, you can forget you are even playing a SNES game. The Pseudo 3D graphics, special effects, and dynamic objects help give this game such an amazing reputation. My only criticism is that some of the ink lines and platforms are hard to maneuver on. This can result in you accidentally slipping off the edges you thought were more platform. The worst examples of this were both the horizontal moving balloons and the vertical moving ones. It’s next to impossible to tell where the platform begins and ends. Still, that is the only criticism I have on this front. It is otherwise incredibly well done.

The audio was also a treat to hear. The sound effects were where this game really shines. Though some effects were recycled, the sounds were so expertly crafted, it works in every instance. The vocal-like samples really help give this game such a unique feel to it. The music was also very well done. Each composition just worked so incredibly well. My criticism in this department is directed at the music, though. As mentioned earlier, this game has a lull by world 4 and 5. This was thanks to a limited music library. If this game had a few more tracks, this lull may have been less noticeable. Unfortunately, some of the tracks do become a bit repetitive by the end of the game. Otherwise, I have no complaints here.

Overall, this was a very well done game. It has a massive variety in its game play. The systems are simple and easy to understand. The bonus levels help spice things up. The menus are easy to follow along. The obstacles and enemies always stayed fresh. The game isn’t flawless thanks to the occasional control issue as well as the lull part way through at around world 4 and 5. Still, these end up being minor nuisances. The graphics occasionally make it hard to land on certain platforms, but are otherwise marvelously laid out. The 3D effects, the special effects, and the artistic designs really give this game a unique feel to it. The audio was a treat to hear with the sound effects. While the music was also nicely done, the limited library does get a bit repetitive after a while. Overall, a highly recommended game despite the minor flaws.

Overall

Furthest point in game: Beat the game.

General gameplay: 22/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 86%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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