July 2, 2022

Yoshi’s Island – Why The Hate?

So, with the release for Ambassadors of Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island, lots of people have begun to moan that Nintendo never really does more than push out it’s old games. That Nintendo are resting on their laurels and cruising on past successes.

Which may be a fair criticism, to a point, but when you level it at Yoshi’s Island, you’re in for a beating.

After seven hours in Yoshi’s Island yet again, I am amazed that I haven’t played it for so long. Why don’t I play this game every weekend of my life? Why the heck do I not dig my SNES out more often and enjoy this game?

It’s more surprising when you factor in that this game is sixteen years old – the GBA tweaks in the noughties not withstanding – and it STILL looks crisp, sharp and fantastic. The sound effects, both original and added into the GBA version, give life, breadth and deep meaning to the trappings of this vibrant world drawn in crayon and cloth with a sense of childlike wonderment and impish deviousness.

It’s a game that trounces more than half of new releases; a game that shows that simple but clever design never goes out of fashion; it merely waits for a new generation to discover its charms, it’s nuances, for a new breed of gamer to fall in love with it. And for old hands like me, returning to it and playing from scratch isn’t a chore at all – it’s like a blanket, warm and snuggly and very comforting.

Nintendo re-releasing Yoshi’s Island isn’t really cynical at all – by far and away, it’s one of the ten best games Nintendo has ever made. Why make such a perfect, brilliant, amazing game and not give newer generations the chance to experience it?

And why remake it when it still looks and sounds so brilliant, when it plays so sharply and cleanly, when it has the depth and breadth and volume of content that makes so many others wither in comparison? Why on Earth would you mess around with something so… well… perfect?

I will confess there are games Nintendo do need to do some work on. Mario Kart 7’s new tracks are hardly what you’d call classics, and some DLC and additional tracks wouldn’t go amiss (I will pay MONEY Nintendo for the N64 Rainbow Road track! I WILL BUY IT! HERE IS MY MONEY TAKE IT AND TAKE IT NOW!). Likewise, I don’t think Super Mario Land 3D will be a classic either – not compared to Super Mario 64 (which deserves a re-release as well!). And I am disappointed not to see some of Nintendo’s true classics being thrown out on the Virtual Console on 3DS – games like Plok!, Super Metroid and Super Mario All Stars.

But when you argue against Nintendo re-releasing its classics, sometimes you need to take a step back, breathe and play the game itself before criticising in any way – because once you get under the “Oh no, a re-release!” you suddenly realise, “Oh wait, this is actually a great game!”

Yoshi’s Island is just such a classic, which was tweaked with nothing more than some added stages and enhanced sound effects nearly a decade ago.

That it continues to take my overly-cynical breath away is a testament to how utterly brilliant it was, is and forever will be.

Games like this should never be buried and forgotten – and truthfully, Yoshi’s Island needed absolutely no interference from anyone. It doesn’t need 3D, or higher sound quality, or advanced 3D models doing the work or anything like that. It just needs to exist, to continue to be offered to a new generation of gamers as an example of just how good gaming can be – and for old, embittered and cynical people like me to rediscover a decade later and be reminded that yes, games were good. Are good. And will always be good.

Offering Yoshi’s Island to Ambassadors is like turning up and apologising to a woman with George Clooney beside you offering to make it up to you as well. It’s excessive overkill – but what overkill!

This is gaming nirvana. Yoshi’s Island is utterly brilliant. And if they re-release it in another decades time, it will still be brilliant.

You can’t improve on this kind of perfection… so why bother?


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