Game Review Data
Game Title
Yoshi's Island - Super Mario Advance 3
1 - 4 Players. Battery Save.
Andrew Blanchard



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Yoshi's Island appeared as one of those very early technical demos that surfaced even before the GBA's official release and was generally greeted with absolute amazement by those who encountered it. Obviously we're going back well over 18 months here and in addition to two previous Mario titles, we've seen a fair few games that have pushed Nintendo's new handheld to limits even the hardware manufacturer thought impossible.

Outside of its technical merits, however, there is one aspect of the Mario series that's always stood out above everything else - playability. Given the consistently good track record of these games there's no reason to believe that Yoshi's Island wont live up to the hype. Or does it?

Screen Shots


After the usual 'highly original' Nintendo story line you'll find yourself as a baby Mario astride a rather bemused looking Yoshi. This is due to the fact that you've just tumbled from the great blue yonder following a failed kidnap attempt on you and your brother. Luigi has been snatched by the Koopa family while being delivered by a stork and it's now up to you and Yoshi to discover his whereabouts.

You remain with Yoshi (although not the same one) throughout the island, which is a real plus as not only is he more effective over the terrain than you but he renders you almost invincible. He also brings lots of additional combat moves to the Mario franchise. The first of these is the incredibly powerful stomp, which flattens even the most persistent of enemies instantly. Then you can fire at other objects using a variety of projectiles, which really are very precise and can be fired in almost any direction.

Yoshi's most intriguing, not to mention unique, skill though is his ability to morph into a variety of different vehicles depending on your needs at that time. You may wish for a helicopter in order to reach greater heights or a mechanical digger for... well digging. This is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the whole game and really gives this third installment an original and dynamic theme separating it from the previous Mario titles.

The whole game takes place over six different worlds which in turn are split into eight levels but while you're still faced with challenges you never feel overwhelmed by the learning curve which is, as usual, pitched just right. A Nintendo title would be nothing without collectibles and Yoshi's Island has loads of them. It's always worth searching them out as they not only give you the usual power ups and extra lives but finding them all opens up an exclusive secret level.

There are also various mini games, which break up the platforming action nicely and usually take the form of simple single screen puzzlers. Nintendo products have an unparalleled track record of tying up many of the loose ends, which seem to plague some third party developers. For starters you get a battery save (with three slots) and a limited multi player option from only a single copy of the game. Bagging yourself another copy of the game however opens up a whole new multi player experience.


As you'd expect with any Nintendo product the collision detection is pixel perfect which is more important than usual because of the amount of action going on in some of the areas. Yoshi is an incredibly maneuverable lead character but the control design is such that it always feels very intuitive so what could be an incredibly frustrating gaming aspect becomes a real pleasure, allowing you to concentrate on the gameplay.


The various environments you encounter throughout Yoshi's Island are truly outstanding and are constructed with a subtle mix of watercolour and pastel effects. This contrasts extremely well with the harshly outlined sprites and gives a greater illusion of both depth and perspective to the whole game.

You're also treated to the famous Nintendo design where everything you see brings a unique inventiveness to the proceedings whilst retaining a comfortable familiarity. There are, unfortunately, some screen update issues where the game designers have become perhaps a little too ambitious but these are few and far between and never really hurt the gameplay. Overall, this latest offering from every GBA owner's favourite developer is as close to a visual feast as I've seen for some time in handheld form.

Sound & Music

As you'd expect most of the sounds have been transferred from the original and they actually stand up rather well considering they're a decade or so old now. One audio aspect that has been improved (although it's unlikely to be to everyone's taste) is Yoshi's voice and ‘cute' voice samples now accompany his every move. Because of Nintendo's tight quality control it even sounds good on the GBA's limited speaker capacity though, if you really wish to cut off the rest of the world and immerse yourself in Yoshi's Island, headphones are still best.

Final Comments

Yoshi's Island has been a long time coming and the GBA has already seen its fair share of great and not so great platformers. Nintendo, however, have always reigned supreme in this area and this latest Mario outing will remain an unmistakable blueprint of just how it all should be done. Everything's good here, from the tight control and design to the wonderful sounds and visuals. It is undoubtedly the best handheld platformer Nintendo have produced to date. If you're upgrading to a GBA this Christmas and can only have one game you can't go far wrong with Yoshi's Island and there's enough varied gameplay here to keep you going until... well New Year at least. An instant classic and dare I say it 'platforming perfection'.

@ EAGB Advance 2002. All rights reserved.