If you’ve been reading this site for a while, it’s no secret that Chris (whom I just happen to be married to) is good at videogames. As someone not particularly skilled in this area, it’s convenient for me to keep him around to kill the stupid final boss on his first try (you know…the one that has already killed me twenty times in a row). I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that he will always be better than me at videogames. That’s okay, one of us has to be literate. But today I am here to talk to you about the exception to the rule. That exception is called Yoshi’s Island, and I am awesome at it. Because this game is so amazing and I am so great at it, this first article will only cover the basics of the plot, one special secret, and some helpful tips for getting a perfect score. In Part II I will talk more about defeating specific enemies and tips to navigate some of the trickier levels.
Taking place years before Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island tells the story of the Yoshis and their quest to reunite Baby Mario, dropped by the stork smack into the middle of the island, with his twin Baby Luigi, who was captured by the evil magikoopa Kamek. Mario is carried on the back of a different Yoshi through each level. If touched by an enemy, Mario floats up into the air in a bubble, wailing and screaming as a timer counts down. Once the timer reaches zero, Baby Mario is snatched up by Baby Bowser’s minions and the game is over.
Egg-shooting is one of Yoshi’s primary defenses. He makes eggs by eating enemies with his long tongue, (he can also collect them from egg boxes or egg-shooting tulips) and can carry up to six eggs at a time. He can also carry keys or Huffin Puffins, duck-like creatures that show up in a few levels and act like boomerangs, shooting a short distance and circling back. Also they look ridiculous.
Egg-shooting is a skill- several levels require you to calculate angles in order to hit an item that is otherwise unreachable, and the final boss of level 3 (Naval Piranha) is defeated by shooting an egg at the opposite wall so that it bounces back to hit his weak spot.
I’ll let you in on a secret though. If you are careful, you can kill Naval Piranha before Kamek enters and transforms him. As you swim into the cavern, don’t immediately jump onto the white platform. Instead, swim forward a little ways until Naval Piranha comes into view, then swim back and jump up toward the very edge of the platform. As soon as you touch the VERY edge of the platform, shoot him with an egg! You’ve got to be quick because if you go too far, Kamek’s entrance is triggered. If you are successful, Kamek will fly onto the screen and scream “OH MY!” since you’ve beaten the boss! (However, I only recommend this if you are afraid you might get hit and risk losing some points- I would beat this boss the normal way simply for the awesome music in this level!)
Of course I am very clever and I know many more secrets about Yoshi’s Island; secrets that would make your hair stand on end and your toes curl, but heck if I’m going to just give them to you. Instead, I have a series of tips that will help you to navigate the game, ideally with the full 100 points achievable in every level, and find the secrets for yourself!
1. Each level has a total of 100 points available for your completionist pleasure. 20 of these are red coins cleverly disguised as regular gold coins. But here’s a little something: you CAN tell them apart. I SWEAR they are a fraction of a hint darker than the surrounding coins, and if you can learn to tell the difference, you can find the red coins every time. (Either that, or I have played this game WAY too many times and have memorized the locations and convinced myself that I can see them. We’ll go with the former.)
2. 50 of the aforementioned 100 points are flowers- there are five hidden throughout the level. They are pretty easy to find because they’re big and cute, but WATCH OUT- in a few castle levels there are fake flowers called Dizzy Dandies that may fool you at first. PAY ATTENTION and you will realize that they are shaped a little differently and have an angry face like this- >:( Angry face= get the heck away.
3. The last 30 points are the most infuriating, in my humble opinion. They are made up of stars. These cute little smiling stars not only add to your final score, but they determine how many seconds you have if Baby Mario gets knocked off your back before the dang toadies get him. That horrible timer will count down starting with the number of stars you currently have, and will get more frantic as it gets closer to one. I hate it. It will always default back to ten, but you need 30 for a perfect score. You can get those extra twenty stars from Winged Clouds, by hitting a POW block near enemies, by dropping an enemy or egg into a red tulip, or by hitting an enemy with a red egg. Each level will give you multiple opportunities to replenish your stars, but if you are careless you can mess up your chances of a perfect score because unlike flowers and red coins, you can’t just go back and find the ones you missed.
4. For cases like depleted stars, it’s excellent to know about the prizes you can win from minigames! Some of these minigames are within levels (you will need a key to open up a locked minigame hut), some you can play at the end of a level if you hit a flower at the finish ring, and the others must be unlocked after beating an entire world with perfect scores in every level. These minigames will give you prizes like 10 stars, 20 stars, ice, fire, and green melons, and POW blocks. You can access these items by pressing start during the level and selecting the item you want to use (except while fighting a boss, of COURSE). I can’t even count the times that a 10 or 20 star item has saved my butt at the very end of a level when I am 8 stars short of that tantalizing perfect score and have completely exhausted all other resources.
5. Investigate all suspicious spots, nooks and crannies, etc. Often as not you will find an Invisible Winged Cloud that could contain stars or even extra lives!
I could keep going for pages and pages, but I’ll go ahead and stop there or this will have to be called Novel from a Grandmaster instead. A game focusing on the adorable dinosaur made famous in Super Mario World may at first seem trivial to the serious gamer, but it is at times a tremendously difficult game as well as visually delightful, audibly enchanting, and extremely unique. Anyone who loves the classic Mario games will…well, if you really love the classic Mario games then you have no doubt already played Yoshi’s Island, but if you haven’t, go do it! You won’t regret visiting this island. Check back soon for Part II, In Which We Discuss the Most Awful Enemies (among other things).
Want more Tips From a Grandmaster? Check these out: