Yoshi’s Island is Really Messed Up: but only if You Think about It

March 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Inevitably my quest to complete (or at least play) every single game on Edge’s Top 100 Games to Play Today has this week brought me to Yoshi’s Island, the follow-up to Super Mario World on the SNES. If summing it up briefly I’d probably praise and condemn its lower difficulty level than the other Mario games I’ve played, praise because the series has at points brought me to tears, and condemn for almost the same reason.

Any comments I make with my reviewers hat on however, are simply going to feel outdated and a little redundant at this point in time, so instead allow me to wax lyrical about some of the finer points of the game, namely how messed up the whole thing is.

From what I can gather, the art style has divided opinion since the game’s release. For what it’s worth I like it. The hand drawn colouring-book art style is appealing to me just because of how unique it is, and whilst I could do without having to listen to Mario bawl his eyes out whenever I lead Yoshi astray I think the idea of a baby Mario is – in itself – not a bad idea.

In places however, the art style raises very important philosophical questions that I feel need answers. Firstly, why did Yoshi’s Island change so much whilst the Mario brothers were growing up? According to this game, there was a time when the whole thing looked like it had been drawn by a four year old (albeit a very competent one), what happened? Did Bowser or one of his maniacal crew turn up in Mario’s absence and bully the island into growing up?

If this was the case then why did Bowser leave? I can’t believe that he would just redraw an entire state of dinosaurs and then bugger of from whence he came. Does this mean there is more than one saviour of Yoshi’s Island? Is there some other blue-collar worker who works in tandem with Mario to keep the kingdom safe? Actually come to think of it, we don’t know if the Island is a monarchy, or even if it’s its own state. The Yoshiss clearly rule it judging by the name, but is there a head honcho who tells all the others what’s what?

It could also be the case that Yoshi’s Island is a living thing, and has over the years grown up exactly as Mario has. The mountains in the background have faces on several occasions, which frankly raises further questions. The fact that they have eyes I can deal with, but the mouths suggest two things, firstly that they can talk, and second that they can eat.

Now I don’t know about you, but the concept of a mountain needing to eat is terrifying to me. Does it simply open its mouth and wait for unwitting hikers/Yoshis/Mario to fall in? Or is a more active roll necessary? Are there Yoshis who’re tasked with the job of feeding these leviathans? What do they even eat? Are they carnivores? Also WHY ARE THEY SMILING? What could a mountain possibly have to be happy about?

I don’t know about you, but the existence of narcotics in the Super Mario world simultaneously shocked me whilst confirming within me suspicions I’ve held about the games for quite some time now. You know the levels I’m talking about; the ones where if you touch the huge floating dandelion seeds the screen starts to pulse, and Yoshi finds it hard to control himself whilst his stomach bulges comically. Now I’m no politician Nintendo, but is comedy really something you want to derive from casual drug use?

Unquestionably the most messed up thing about Yoshi’s Island is your ability to suck up enemies and then immediately turn them into eggs. I can only think of two ways Yoshi may be able to achieve this. The first involves him pushing the creature through his system at phenomenal speeds, and propelling him into an egg waiting happily in Yoshi’s colon (another interesting point, is every Yoshi called Yoshi? Or is there one dinosaur called Yoshi, with all the others belonging to the same unnamed race?). The second, more disturbing explanation is that eating animals provides Yoshi with the energy needed to produce an egg. If this is true, it means that Yoshi’s throwing his own eggs at enemies in order for baby Mario to pass safely. That’s commitment, it really is.

Actually it could be the fact that this game reveals the existence of more than one Yoshi that bothers me so much. In retrospect it was crazy to think that every Yoshi you encountered in Super Mario World was the same guy, but why is he always the same colour? Was there some sort of plague that wiped out all the non-green Yoshis? Perhaps more disturbing is the thought that maybe the Yoshis had some sort of racial uprising in the time between Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario World in which all the non-green creatures were removed from the island.

In any case I’ll freely admit to having next to no knowledge of Mario lore, or at least not as much as someone who’s prepared to write a 900 word article should do. If anyone has any answers to my questions, please do post them below. Admit it though, this game is really weird.

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