earlier this summer i finally finished playing through kirby tilt ‘n’ tumble, a late GBC game and nintendo’s earliest foray into motion-controlled gaming, thanks to its built-in accelerometer. nintendo waited until the end of the GBA’s life span to release its second accelerometer-based game, warioware: twisted!, which i thoroughly enjoyed. this was almost immediately followed by the similarly controlled yoshi topsy-turvy, also for GBA. (incidentally, for all those trivia buffs out there, in the US that game was actually released after its DS cousin, yoshi touch & go, and the very same thing had happened to warioware touched! which was released on DS before twisted!.) also, topsy-turvy has the additional advantage of supporting the original orientation of the GBA (cartridge is oriented the same way as the console), as well as the orientation of the GBA SP and DS (cartridge is upside down).
topsy-turvy, being a platformer, is more similar to tilt ‘n’ tumble than twisted, although the gameplay is very distinct. whereas in tilt ‘n’ tumble you guide the pink puffball through pinball-like stages, topsy-turvy plays like a more traditional platformer and you use the tilting mechanism to activate environmental objects, such as making platforms extend or boulders roll. the pacing is more enjoyable than tilt ‘n’ tumble and tilting to affect the environment doesn’t usually bring the action to a grinding halt the way that it did in that game. also, being able to play on my GBA SP did help keep the motion sickness to manageable levels.
the uniqueness of topsy-turvy isn’t just the controls, however. as with yoshi’s story the game has a surprising structure (not to mention a similar storybook aesthetic). the game includes six worlds, but the number of levels in each world increases from the first world’s three to the final world’s twelve. although you’re required to finish every stage, each stage comes with a mission: eat a certain number of fruits, collect a certain number of coins, get to the exit within a certain time, defeat a certain number of enemies, don’t defeat more than four enemies, and avoid getting damaged by the auto-scrolling screen. at times two missions are combined, and the game taxes you with successfully completing the missions (which earns you medals) for a certain fraction of the stages within the world before you can progress to the next.
this focus on missions is unusual for a platformer, and although i never really actually enjoyed that structure i appreciated its pacing: each mission type is introduced one at a time, one for each new world (each world includes the previous mission types as well). the game doesn’t particularly impress when judged as a platformer, though. the graphics are excellent and rival those on the DS, but aside from the motion controls the level design is fairly ho-hum and none of the stages really offer much in the way of a “wow” factor. the game does incorporate some transformations (yoshi transformations were last seen in super mario world 2, but the ones here are completely new) but most of them are more frustrating than fun. the game’s also a bit on the short side (which was fine by me since it wasn’t really keeping my attention) and only includes one real boss battle, although trying to earn gold medals by completing a mission perfectly could extend your game time, at the expense of your sanity.
all in all this was a game that was an interesting entry in nintendo and video game history, but not that much fun. overall i’ve enjoyed the yoshi series more than the kirby series, though, and am looking forward to playing more of the remaining two, both for DS.
orient on these yoshi topsy-turvy links:
– apparently no one’s bothered to write a complete FAQ, but there are a couple of partial FAQs on gamefaqs
– succesfully completing all the missions unlocks some useless bonus modes
– entry at mariowiki.com
– entry at wikipedia