Yoshi’s Story, a fun little Nintendo 64 game, was released on December 21, 1997. I had planned to write a little piece on it for its 25th anniversary, but I forgot at the time. But four months late is not too late in the grand scheme of things.
Yoshi’s Story is one of the few Nintendo 64 games from my original collection that I still have. I received my copy in late 1998 or early 1999 (I also got one of the Pokémon card starter boxes on the same day, the one featuring base set Mewtwo).
Yoshi’s Story was the spiritual successor to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, which had been released for the Super Nintendo in 1995. I have praised Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island for being a beautiful game, and possibly the most aesthetic visual effort of the 90s (see also). While Yoshi’s Story is not quite as visually striking as its predecessor, it has a unique “storybook” aesthetic and shows what the Nintendo 64 is capable of in the fully 2D realm. Like Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, which was released for the Nintendo 64 a few years later, Yoshi’s Story is an example of a Nintendo 64 game that aged better in the graphics department than many of the more exciting (at the time) fully 3D games.
(Note: While Yoshi’s Story still looks good, I will give my vote to the original Paper Mario as the best-aging storybook aesthetic from the Nintendo 64’s library.)
Yoshi’s Story was pretty, and it was packed with fun Yoshi sound effects, but was it fun to play? Reviews of Yoshi’s Story were mixed and I think largely on the mark. Yoshi’s Story controls well and has plenty of style. Completing levels by eating a certain amount of fruit is creative, and there are small ways to enhance the challenge. But Yoshi’s Story is let down by a lack of challenge (its level design is far less impressive than its predecessor) and lack of length. It is a fun little game, but it sadly did not aspire to be much more. Since I do have my original copy, maybe I will give it a go for the first time in more than two decades (I dare say I have been away from Yoshi’s Story longer than I was apart from Mario Party).