A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn a bit about strategy and teamwork in this basic side-scrolling platform adventure game, though it's mostly intended just for fun. Kids will practice devising and executing strategies as they encounter enemies with varying behaviors. They also get to cooperate with their friends, working as a team to achieve goals in simple mini-games, such as popping balloons with eggs. Yoshi's New Island doesn't impart any critical skills, but it lets kids work cooperatively in small groups and provides some experience making quick decisions.
Most of the game is little more than running and jumping, devoid of any messaging. But there are underlying themes concerning cooperation -- all of the Yoshis work together to reunite baby Luigi and baby Mario -- and the bond between siblings, which in this case is the result of a psychic connection Mario shares with his brother.
Positive Role Models
The Yoshis, while perhaps a little too happy to dispatch the game's minions, prove themselves to be helpful and selfless creatures devoted to reuniting babies Mario and Luigi, regardless of the risk to themselves.
Ease of Play
The basic controls for running and jumping are a snap, but it could take a little longer for kids to get the hang of swallowing enemies, laying eggs, and then throwing them -- a surprisingly convoluted process that involves controlling a targeting line that extends from the player's character outward. Plus, new actions -- pounding pegs into the ground, piloting vehicles, running fast along walls and ceilings -- are frequently added, which means players always seem to have new play mechanics to learn and master.
Violence & Scariness
The Yoshis hop on fantastical cartoonish enemies to make them disappear. They also stick out their long tongues to gobble foes up, then squat to lay eggs that they can throw as projectiles. Some mini-games involve mild, cartoon-like combat, such as a submarine game in which players can fire torpedoes at enemy characters.
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Products & Purchases
This game is part of Nintendo's Yoshi franchise. The Yoshis also appear in non-Yoshi games, such as the Mario Bros. series, and outside of games as a stuffed animal and a character in branded board games.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Yoshi's New Island is a simple platformer game designed with younger players in mind. Its colorful, cheerful aesthetic is reminiscent of Mario games. So is the action, which involves a lot of hopping on cartoon enemies, as well as the Yoshis' signature "swallow-a-foe-and-squat-to-lay-an-egg" move. There are no overt messages, but light themes of teamwork and sibling affection emerge as the story progresses. It can also make for a fun social gaming experience for two players.
Is It Any Good?
Yoshi's New Island is a modestly entertaining romp. Its running and jumping action is finely tuned -- as is to be expected of any official Nintendo platformer -- and its cast of cute characters is familiar and welcoming. The game is easy to get into and hums along nicely once you're playing, with hidden collectible items sure to keep fans replaying levels until they've found them all.
That said, it's hard to see why anyone would choose to play Yoshi's New Island if they had the option to play a Mario game instead. Its audio and video presentation, purposefully rudimentary, comes perilously close to making it feel like a game made for cell phones. And while the Yoshis' antics are generally amusing, they don't get up to anything most players haven't seen before in bigger, better Mario adventures. It's quite competent and often fun, but Yoshi's New Island still feels second-rate compared to other Nintendo platformers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.