Ah yes, our little green friend Yoshi. Let me take you back to the turbulent time known as 1991. America was still adjusting to the end of the Cold War, but more importantly, we were eagerly awaiting the western release of the Super Nintendo and Super Mario World. We’d been gaming all these years with a mere eight bits, and very soon, we’d be graced with double that!
Just what is a bit? We weren’t really sure, but we knew it would aid in bringing richer graphics…along with Mario’s new companion, Yoshi. We’d seen the commercials and heard the hype. We knew we’d soon be riding our new dinosaur friend, eating all the soft enemies and powering ourselves up based on the color of the Koopa Troopa shells we held in Yoshi’s mouth. Surely a new age in Mario, but would it always be this way?
Spoiler alert: No!
Who didn’t love Super Mario World? The Yoshis were very plentiful and added a huge depth to the side-scroller that started it all. As crown loyalist Matt Jonas would say, it’s a real Baker’s Day. We’re still not clear on who Baker was and what his day included, but we can assure you, it was a good time for Baker. But it wouldn’t always be sunshine (except in this case) and Double Rainbows, as Yoshi reached his peak in his very first outing. Let’s take a closer look at what the crap went wrong with Yoshi after this point.
The Remaining 16 Bits
Before I go totally off the deep end, we have to take a look at Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. (Well, isn’t that name confusing. Wasn’t the first area in Super Mario World called “Yoshi’s Island”? Has the island grown due to massive volcanic activity? Has the land mass increased from all the Yoshi excrement from over-indulging on roasted Goomba?) This is a prequel where you actually play as Yoshi, aiding Baby Mario. While this game did take away the shell powers from SMW1, it also let Yoshi transform into cars, moles, helicopters, and all sorts of things, not to mention the awesome egg arsenal that Yoshi could build. And who could forget the philosophical conundrum/acid-trip level, “Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy?”
Yoshi also made a strong appearance in Super Mario Kart, sporting fast acceleration and unique Yoshi eggs as weapons. Moreover, there was Yoshi’s Safari, which was one of very few games that used the Super Scope. You played as Mario, riding Yoshi through various lands and shooting Bowser’s forces. Not a bad use of the Super Scope, but Yoshi could have easily been replaced by a horse, or a zealous uncle who enjoys giving piggy-back rides to his plump plumber nephews. Yoshi not only lost his abilities and charm in this game, but his appealing moxie as well. Has the very soul of the Yoshi clan been betrayed?
It Was Going to be the Ultra 64…
1997. America was in a period of surplus budget; certainly we could afford to quadruple our bits, and also quadruple the fun, right? Someone’s gotta put an end to blast processing, and this whole “CD” thing…right?
Super Mario 64 was a great 3D (but not 3D by today’s standards) romp, but look what happened to Yoshi! There were rumors on the Internets that, once you got all 120 stars, you would unlock Yoshi. That’s a lot of work, but it had to be worth it. So you jumped into every painting, went down every one of Princess’ secret slides, and nabbed every star. Finally, you’d have your just desserts (and I’m not just talking about the cake Princess promised for Mario). The canon outside the castle was unlocked, and you immediately jumped in to blast onto the castle’s roof to see what awaited you. And there he was, our little green friend.
Yeah, you could unlock Yoshi, all right…but you couldn’t even ride him! He spouts a few lines of dialogue (yes, apparently he can speak English now), and he gives you 100 lives, even though you’ve clearly mastered the game at this point. Really? That’s it? What a letdown. He congratulates you for defeating Bowser, even though you haven’t technically beaten him yet, since beating Bowser ends the game. All those hours, all those stars. Plus, after he’s done talking, Yoshi just jumps off screen…like a super jump. What the crap—I can’t even run around a bit with our old pal?!
Another Yoshi title came out on the N64, called Yoshi’s Story. This game seemed targeted for little kids (which most of Nintendo products do these days), so I never played it. It was a successor to Yoshi’s Island, but apparently it was much easier, shorter, and lacked the vehicle-morphing features. It didn’t appeal to me then, and it doesn’t appeal to me now. Please leave us some comments if you have played this title.
Finally, a disc-based system from Nintendo. Surely they can make up for a lack of the Yosh-man with the all-new GameCube, right?
Well, first we had Luigi’s Mansion. Is this a sequel to Maniac Mansion, or something? I certainly didn’t have a Baker’s Day or even a Day of the Tentacle here. They took two of my favorite things, Mario games and Ghostbusters, and ruined both of them. Not only is there no Yoshi here, they took away Mario, too. What were they thinking?
Then we had to wait a few more years until Mario Sunshine came out. OK, so surely—SURELY—Mario must be riding Yoshi again, right? Well, not exactly like you’d think. The big gimmick of the game was the FLUDD nozzle, which was a massive pain. Yoshi did make an appearance in a few stages here, but instead of eating enemies or throwing eggs, he’d spit different juices based on what fruit he ate. Yeah, that’s what we’ve been waiting for: spitting juice at Goombas. What the crap were they thinking at the developer meetings? Next system, please!
Wii Need a Good Yoshi Game
Again, we’d have to wait several years to get a legit Mario game in our hands. This time, Mario would be travesing the cosmos in Super Mario Galaxy. Well apparently, Mario’s in a galaxy where Yoshi doesn’t exist; you won’t find him here at all. As usual, videogame developers come out with a sequel in a game series, remove a crucial component of past games, and then reintroduce it in another sequel so they can say “Hey guys, feature X is back! Remember how much you loved feature X and wish it was in [Current Game]? Well, now it’s in [Current Game 2: The Next Generation]!” Those marketing guys are smart. Look at all the things lacking in GTAIV from GTA: San Andreas. They’re going to reintroduce all of those things into GTAV and people will lap it up.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii was released later, and it allowed four people to cooperatively ride four different Yoshis. This will probably be as close as we ever get to New Super Mario World. Yoshi has no real powers here, he doesn’t travel with you to the next levels, and he’s not in many levels to begin with. In addition, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was released with Mario riding Yoshi right on the cover, so I’m guessing that he’s actually in the game this time. I haven’t played this game, so I can’t speak for how cool Yoshi is in it, but I’m guessing that he’s only in three stages, can’t do anything, and talks like a big wussy.
U Get One Last Chance…
So what does the future hold for U and Mii? OK, maybe I’m being a bit pessimistic here, but isn’t that the point of “What the Crap?” At least we can look back at the fonder times of Super Mario World 1 and 2, and even play them on the Virtual Console if we so choose. But, will we have to rebuy them on the Wii U Virtual Console when that comes out? Or will we have to settle for Yoshi’s Cookie 3D, or something? Or will we finally get full-on Yoshi support again?
Probably not the latter. So grab a beer, boot up your SNES (or Wii VC), and join me in the good times, when Yoshis were Yoshis, and women were proud of it.