A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this colorful, charming game has a lot of youth appeal, but may be challenging for the youngest players drawn to its visual style. The game demands a lot of precise jumping while dodging, stomping, and shooting eggs at enemies. Many levels require strategizing and puzzle solving. The touch screen on the DS rarely comes into play; instead, gameplay spans both screens (leaving a small missing region in between that can hide important visuals).
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What's it about?
YOSHI'S ISLAND DS is a follow-up to the beloved Super Nintendo game Yoshi's Island from 1995. The story is simple: An evil wizard is kidnapping babies, and the Mario Bros. second-fiddle Luigi is among the missing. The Yoshis, a group of dinosaur-like creatures with sticky tongues and the ability to transform enemies that they eat into eggs, decide to help some other Mario-world babies in a rescue attempt.
Players guide the Yoshis (with a baby on board) across 50 colorful levels. Different babies give the Yoshis different abilities: Baby Mario can dash and smash hidden blocks, Baby Peach can ride gusts of wind, and Baby Donkey Kong can climb vines and swing on ropes, etc.; many levels have puzzles that require players to strategize and switch babies back and forth. If a baddie hits a Yoshi, the baby is thrown from its back and a countdown begins -- players have a short time to rescue the baby before losing a life.
Is it any good?
Don't be swayed by the images of pacifiers and diapers -- mastering Yoshi's Island DS is not child's play. The game makes good use of its two screens, although the touch sensitivity rarely comes into play: The screens work together to create a tall window into the jungles, deserts, and haunted ships that constitute the Yoshis' world. This trick complements the action, letting players see platforms high above or toss an egg from on high. Players can expect to spend a lot of time airborne, moving between floating platforms and using the Yoshis' ability to flutter kick and float.
The gameplay is top-notch, but the game stumbles in a couple of areas. Although the double-screen view looks nice, there is a missing section of space between the screens that can hide treasure and enemies. Also, some of the levels are punishingly difficult, and players may die dozens of times, particularly if they want to collect most or all of the treasures. But even when Yoshi's Island DS becomes frustrating, it's hard to put down.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Nintendo remade this game, which is similar to a game from an old system. Are such remakes good for introducing young gamers to old games? Or are companies just recycling old material? Are you more likely to want a game simply because it features Mario or one of his pals? Do you like the challenging parts of the game or are you sometimes too frustrated with them?
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