Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/14/05 | Genre: Platform
When Balloon Trip appeared at E3 as a "tech demo," I thought it was pretty fun. It became the full game Yoshi Touch & Go, and as Nintendo started to release information about it, I was starting to get excited for what would be Nintendo's first original game on the DS. Yoshi Touch & Go features very unique gameplay that really makes use of the Touch Screen.
The premise is similar to Yoshi's Island (released both on the SNES and GBA). However, because the control scheme is totally different, the gameplay is totally different. There are two main parts to the game. In the first portion, Baby Mario is falling through the sky. He always stays on the upper screen as obstacles scroll by vertically from the lower screen to the upper screen. Using the stylus, you can draw clouds on the screen to create a path to guide Baby Mario around obstacles and into coins. You can also draw bubbles around enemies which turns them into coins. If Baby Mario collides with enemies three times, then the game's over. However, if he makes it to the ground, the second portion of the game begins. In this part Baby Mario rides on a Yoshi's back. Control is the exactly same except that now the level scrolls horizontally. Yoshi automatically and continuously walks from left to right (there is also an option to reverse Yoshi's direction which might be more comfortable to left-handed players). He walks along the ground, but you'll need to watch out for gaps and enemies. You can still use the stylus to create clouds and Yoshi can walk on them. You can use the clouds to guide Yoshi over gaps and enemies and into coins or fruit. In addition, you can tap Yoshi to make him jump and you can tap the screen anywhere to make Yoshi throw an egg. Throwing eggs not only kills enemies, but it grabs coins that might otherwise be out of reach. Enemies and coins also appear on the upper screen and the only way to deal with them is to throw an egg from the lower screen to the upper screen. Yoshi carries a limited number of eggs which are replenished by eating fruit. There's a nice variety of enemies. Some are stationary, some dive at you from the sky, some throw things at you, and more.
The game is divided up into four modes which essentially drive you to beat your high score. The first mode is a single level design in which you simply try to complete it with as high a score as possible. This means killing as many enemies and collecting as many coins as you can. You can score combos by hitting multiple enemies and coins with a single egg. The eggs can ricochet and plow through multiple targets. Another mode challenges you to complete a level as fast as possible. Then there are two marathon-type modes. The first is actually called Marathon mode. After completing the falling Baby Mario portion, you must simply try to survive as long as you can during the Yoshi portion. The level is randomly generated and continues forever. As in all modes, if Yoshi gets hit just once by an enemy, the game is over. Depending on how well you do in the falling Baby Mario portion, you will receive a different Yoshi. The better you do the higher egg capacity your Yoshi will have. So doing well in the first part is important to being able to survive longer in the Yoshi portion. The second marathon mode, called Challenge, is similar except now you are always racing against the clock. If the timer reaches zero the game is over. However, for every point you earn, a second is added to the clock. So you must continually collect coins and defeat enemies to keep the clock running. Performing combos is crucial to surviving.
Yoshi Touch & Go's four modes are really fun. The gameplay is really unique and it shows you that the DS can give you new experiences. The problem is that the fun doesn't last. There are essentially two concrete level designs and two randomly generated infinite levels. All though it is a fun challenge to try to top your marathon scores, for most people it will get old too soon. Randomly generation does provide a unique level every time, but it still feels the same. There's nothing like an intentionally designed level by a creative developer. That gives the developer certain opportunities to give the player specific unique challenges. That's exactly what the game is missing. It really needed some kind of adventure mode that was made up of dozens of levels