If there’s a more pleasant videogame than Yoshi’s New Island, then it must be tucked away in a sunny corner of Sesame Street being guarded by kittens and cupcakes, because we haven’t seen it. From the minute you first hear ramshackle opening title music, seemingly played on broken kazoos and squeaky toys, you’re in for an inordinately affable platforming adventure that feels like a leisurely stroll on a summer’s day.
Once again, you take control of a variety of Yoshis as they transport a wailing baby Mario around a gorgeously hand-drawn 2D landscape, leaping across platforms, swallowing baddies and chucking eggs at clouds. It’s a stunning game; every inch crafted with love and affection and every pixel meticulously placed. It’s not a daunting affair. Unlike recent 2D platform hells like Super Meat Boy and last month’s Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze on Wii U, Yoshi’s New Island is a warm breeze of a game, never finding itself hugely troubling to the experienced ledge-leaper but maintaining just enough tension to stave off boredom.
Unsurprisingly, it’s filled with ideas, too. Quite how Nintendo’s teams keep mining the 2D platformer and coming up with new gems is a mystery, but here we have all sorts of smart set-pieces, be they the giant eggs that smash through the scenery or Yoshi’s counterfeit doppelgangers that ape his moves and have to be carefully guided into spike traps.
Keen to showcase some of the 3DS’ unique features, too, Yoshi’s New Island sometimes turns its titular hero into a vehicle (hot air balloon, submarine, drill) and asks you to manipulate him through a time-sensitive maze by tilting the 3DS to steer. Of course, any time you’re asked to adjust the angle of Nintendo’s latest portable, the £d effect is lost, as is most of your visibility, so this is a game far better suited to having the 3D slider set to ‘off’. Thankfully, you lose none of the clarity or style of the visuals by doing so.
A two-player minigame mode joins the party, letting you and a friend tackle simple yet amusing tasks that are unlocked as you progress through the single-player. They’re little more than a side dish though, to Yoshi’s New Island’s delightfully simple main meal. Eventually, the simplicity and relative ease does place Yoshi’s New Island just beneath the recent classics of the genre. This won’t be as timeless as Super Meat Boy or Donkey Kong Country Returns, and nor does it ever reach the seemingly untouchable heights of Super Mario World. Nevertheless, there’s nothing not to like. A reliable, friendly and sumptuous romp through another beautifully built Nintendo world, and yet another great reason to own a 3DS. It’s the machine that keeps on giving.