although yoshi debuted on the SNES in super mario world in 1990 in japan, he/it actually appeared in two games for the original NES. both are puzzle games, the first being the eponymous yoshi, and the second called yoshi’s cookie. yoshi, the game, has gotten renewed attention recently since it was one of the 10 NES “ambassador” games for 3DS. puzzle fiend that i am, the game had been on my radar long before then, but i sat down recently to give it a closer look and to close out the old year.
yoshi is highly reminescent of hatris, one of the original tetris creator’s less-inspired spin-offs. the focus of that game was to position hats onto heads, whereas in this game the focus is on swapping the stacks (i.e. heads) themselves (although hatris included that ability as a “super” move). yoshi is a less restrictive and thus more entertaining game, although i’m sure many players will brush it off as being overly simplistic since you’re only required to make pairs of matches to clear pieces.
it’s true that the game is very straightforward and that it’s not hard to progress, but as with many puzzle games it becomes much more interesting if you focus on getting the highest possible score. in the original tetris, getting only 4-line “tetrises” definitely increases the game’s challenge, and similarly in this game clearing enemies by only matching bottom egg pieces to top egg pieces at the bottom- and topmost parts of the stage (and thus earning the maximum number of points) is hardly trivial. this isn’t wholly satisfying since you end up having to fill much of the board before you can clear it all, and although that sort of gameplay is akin to many other games such as panel de pon aka tetris attack, and puyo puyo, aka kirby’s avalanche in this game it’s not as easy to “give up the gamble” and recover from the corner that you’ve backed yourself into. the game exacerbates this by dropping top (and bottom) egg pieces in groups instead of completely randomly. also, having to spend much of your time up at the topmost part of the board where one small mistake will end your game and having to mentally switch back and forth between regarding the pieces as “garbage” that will go in between an egg and as pieces you’re trying to clear makes the game feel just a bit too fussy to be much fun.
all in all this is a more decent title than most will give credit for, and although i’d rank it above the mostly mindless dr. mario (which i’ve never really enjoyed) it’s not one for the ages.
well, that about wraps up 2011. stay tuned for the annual recap!
yoshi’s hungry for some yoshi links!
– PDF of manual at replacementdocs.com. there seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around about the scoring, so here’s the info straight from the source.
– good FAQ at gamefaqs
– entry at wikipedia