I like being an ambassador. The rank gives me a feeling of importance and free games. Yes, it’s great being an ambassador of Nintendo. And Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 is just one of those gifts treated to us ambassadors who bought a 3DS when they should have waited for a price drop. Hearing Yoshi squeal his name soothes the pain.
Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 is a Game Boy Advance port of Yoshi’s Island on the Super Nintendo, but with some added bonus stages and the arcade game Mario Bros. Classic. Mario Bros. Classic was forced into every game within the Super Mario Advance series, probably due to laziness or one of the producers having an intense love for it, which made it a bit of an ugly wart for those who picked up each release. It’s a fun game though and has Mario running around single screen stages hitting enemies from underneath then finishing them off with his blood splattered boots. Well, they’re probably blood splattered, Nintendo just don’t want to show how cruel Mario can be. The objective is to defeat all the enemies per stage and it offers some high score fun. Until you max out the high score and the game becomes a bit aimless. Multiplayer spruced it up on the GBA, but it has been wrenched out for the 3DS release. At least they didn’t give us the virtually unplayable NES original when they were selecting the Ambassador treats.
Yoshi’s Island is the main event of the package and this fails to disappoint. Set when the Mario brothers were babies, evil wizard Kamek snatches Luigi away, but Mario falls to the land and is rescued by a green Yoshi. It seems baby Mario knows the way to Luigi and so Yoshi goes to his multicoloured brethren and the group set out to save poor little Weegee. This rescue operation involves travelling through jungles, castles, snowy mountains and even a brief trip to the moon. Enemies are on the hunt to grab Mario and so Yoshi must make eggs and throw eggs to reach the final castle. And making eggs involves eating said enemies and digesting them into lovely yolky delights. I’d rather have Mario’s bloody shoes ending me.
The game is a 2D platformer much like the traditional Mario titles with the same objective of reaching the end of each stage, though this time it has a gorgeous pastel art style. The characters and environment are full of life and a far cry away from the recent sterile style of the New Super Mario games which serve to give us familiar Mario. But unfamiliar Mario is so much more exciting and Yoshi Island has more personality in one blade of grass than anything New Super Mario dredges up from the past. The bosses are a particular highlight as they morph into giant monstrosities for Yoshi to gawp at and attempt to take down.
Then there are more fun little events such as the brilliantly catchy music and the tropical backgrounds distorting when Yoshi is hit by an enemy called a Fuzzy. They seem to send Yoshi on a drug trip as he wobbles around causing problems for the player and it is an example of Nintendo on a creative high themselves. Chain Chomp chases, a screen spinning battle on the moon which feels like an early Mario Galaxy and a ski trip down a snowy mountain make Yoshi’s Island a game which likes to give and it all works perfectly with the eggy combat and fluttery Yoshi. The only troubles come with the annoying cry of Mario when Yoshi is hit as the enemies drag the little tyke away, and the GBA exclusive stages being more chore-some than fun. Throwing every game mechanic and putting them in gruelling mazes isn’t fun and goes against the smooth flow the original stages go for.
Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 provides one of the best 2D platformers of our time and an arcade game which isn’t one of the best of our time. But everyone is here for a vacation on the island and what a vacation it is. Unless you end up murdered by Shy Guys, then it would be a terrible trip.