Dinosaur or dragon?
Now, this is a proper Love Story, boys and girls. Let me introduce you to the main character, a cute little game on the N64 called Yoshi’s Story. Yoshi’s Story is the ‘sequel’ to Yoshi’s Island on the SNES. I first picked it up on the spur of the moment back soon after it came out, originally attracted to the colours on the box, no doubt. That and the fact that being second hand, it was sufficiently cheaper than the full price one next to it that I probably wouldn’t have considered buying had I not been such a model consumer.
So invariably, someone’s written the title of the game on the
top of the cart in permanent fucking marker.
You see, I’d not read anything about Yoshi’s Story at the time, I was just buying it because it looked fucking sumptuous from the back of pack shots. But this second hand sticker; I was sure that this game had not long been out, and yet, it was right here.
Second Hand. But what was that little orange sticker saying?
I worried, as any gamer would in this instance: ‘someone’s bought this, played it, thought its shite and gone straight back to the shops with it.’
I remember that nagging doubt as I looked, with more of a critical eye this time, on the rather flowery packaging with happy dinosaurs smiling back at me.
None the less, being an open minded gent I took the plunge, and after a skim read of the rather sparse-on-info manual on the open topped bus, I returned home and fired her up.
And you do need to be open minded.
I loved it at first, but after I zipped through it; I suddenly didn’t really see the point, so I traded it for Mystical Ninja Goemon a few days later.
Then my niece got it for Christmas one year, and as is customary for the family swith, sister of swith and I proceeded to drunkenly barge our way through her kid’s game all Christmas day. When I played it this time, it suddenly dawned on me:
Aaaaah. You’re supposed to take your time!
Maybe it was the atmosphere, maybe it was the Champagne, but we were laughing hysterically at the shamelessly named ‘Super Happy Tree’, and were quite in awe of how magnificent each level looked –
You'd have to have a heart of coal,
I tell you.
The landscapes were vivid montages of Textiles, and Plasticine. Hand drawn, rendered or sewn; who knows? Someone does. I bet Shigsy does. He’s a bugger, that Shigsy.
I remember then thinking that I really wished I hadn’t traded it in, as much as I enjoyed Mystical Ninja Goemon. I realised what i'd been missing from Yoshi's Story. I’d suddenly ‘got it’. That happens sometimes with games, I find.
The sound and music in Yoshi’s Story are an absolute triumph of cutesy, memorable catchy ditties from Nintendo’s finest artists and programmers. Every sound is perfectly characterised, with squeals, boings, squelches and roars that could only be heard in Yoshi’s strange little world.
Riiide the snaaaaake… he’s long…
The music is just as expertly detailed as the graphical presentation, and full of tunes I end up humming in the kitchen. A really effective musical device is when you’re pretty much out of energy (or happiness, no less,) the music goes all slow, but in a strange, time dilatory fashion. That works really nicely as you’re subconsciously urged to play slowly, while at the same time you will be frantically looking for a fruit! ANY FRUIT! Well, preferably a Melon. The Gala Melon, not the Watermelon. Shit. I ate a bunch of grapes.
If I can let you all into a little secret… after you finish a level and all the scores have been totted up on the wobbly chalk board, the next couple of paragraphs of the story are related while the little Yoshi’s sing a tune. That tune has a tendency to make me cry a little sometimes for some reason. The same kind of cry that listening to the Back to the Future theme when I’m drunk makes me do. They’re tears of elation, but with distinct hopelessness at the same time. Really odd. Don’t tell anyone else about that though, ok?
Whisky. The bringer of bad news.
I’ve tried emulating Yoshi’s Story, but for some reason no emulator could ever do it right. You’d always get just disappointing smears that you can just make out Yoshi in. Sad times believe me, friends.
A couple of months ago I was back in the ‘super Mare, when what did I spot but Yoshi’s Story for sale for £5. I snatched that up sharpish as you can imagine. They were selling it in the same cabinet Super Mario Kart for £25. Some one’s taking the piss a bit there, I thought.
So I’ve been re-acquainting myself with that Long Lost Game now, and I’m having a blimmin’ marvellous time with it. I’m really playing it as it was meant to be played. I’m sniffing out all those extra coins and melons, enjoying going for that top score. I’m digging using the analogue stick for the egg throwing; interesting after playing Yoshi’s Touch and Go. Most distinctively though… man. Those characters and backgrounds have got to be some of the most beautifully conceived and rendered art in a game ever. Though it’s early days, she’s aged spectacularly. The controls are dreamy and she plays like she’s smeared in baby oil and warmed in the Mexican evening sun.