bowser's first defeat

I didn’t stay very stuck in Yoshi’s Island, in the end. Over the twenty-four hours following my last update, I sat down and focused on Hookbill’s Castle. I died a whole lot, and then gave up. Then I went through another session like that, but it ended with me beating Hookbill. I tried the next level, but only once.

This was the pattern I decided to stick to for the rest of the game, and it worked pretty well for me. I’d play a level over and over until I beat it, then I’d have a quick look at the next level, then I’d put the game away. I got stuck on one or two more levels, but only briefly. The last level to give me any real trouble was the second-to-last, “Keep Moving!!!!” It’s nicely designed with a lot of platforms that can only be stood on once, so there’s no going back.

Like many platformers, there are checkpoints in the levels in Yoshi’s Island. I just had to get to that first one (which took me about fifteen lives) and then I was set. The rest was tricky, but not hard.

Bowser’s castle was a piece of cake, and Bowser wasn’t much tougher. In fact, none of the bosses in Yoshi’s Island were very difficult at all. They were all very neat, and I liked the way the battles worked, but I don’t think any of them took more than three or four tries.

When I was deciding whether to get SMA3 or SMA2 (I ended up getting both), I found a review that called Yoshi’s Island one of the best 2-D platformers ever. When I started playing, I decided that was hyperbole. Now, though, I’m not sure. The art style is great, the gameplay is really tight, and the level design is absolutely fantastic. While the /actual/ Mario games are fantastic, I think Yoshi’s Island might have them beat. Now, it’s been a long time since I last played SMB3, so I hesitate to just make a clear decision. From playing SMA3, though, I’ve got to say that this was an absolutely awesome game.

As I said, the level design is great. It’s probably the best thing about the game. It manages to encorporate that Metroid need-to-explore. I think, “Look, a door! I want to get through it!” The need to explore, though, can be gratified within minutes, because ever level is a complete package. There’s no backtracking needed, unless you’re shooting for high scores on every level. The designers really succeeded in using enemies as part of the level design. They never seem random; instead, they’re a specific kind of problem that needs solving.

This gets interesting during the boss battles; the bosses are (basically) giant-sized versions of familiar enemies. While the /exact/ same tactics don’t always work, you have a good idea how to go about solving the problem. Only one or two of the boss battles don’t really follow this principle. (The giant frog leaps to mind.)

Finishing Yoshi’s Island has made me want to break out my N64 and pick up Yoshi’s Story, which I just might do.

Failing that, though, beating Bowser unlocked an extra level on each world. If I can’t bring myself to keep playing SMW, at least I have six more levels of Yoshi to play.

Written on June 7, 2003
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