North American cover art
Yoshi's Story[a] is a side-scrolling platform game published and developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It was first released in Japan in December 1997, and worldwide the following year. It was re-released on the Wii's Virtual Console service in 2007, and later for the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2016.
Serving as a follow up to the Super NES title Yoshi's Island, the game continues within the platform genre, presenting gameplay similar to its predecessor. However, Yoshi's Story turns in a more puzzle-oriented direction, with the aspect of challenge being foremost tied to the achievement of a high score by strategic means. Taking place within a pop-up storybook, the game features vivid pre-rendered 3D graphics, illustrating worlds that are crafted from different materials, such as cardboard, fabrics, plastic, and wood.
The player may choose between two different game modes from the game's main menu: Story Mode and Trial Mode. Upon entering either mode, the player will be able to select a course, find out which fruit will be the Lucky Fruit, and choose a Yoshi of desired color to play as. However, Trial Mode will be void of courses to play at the start of the game, as these will have to be unlocked by completing them in Story Mode.
On each course, the goal is to fill the Fruit Frame by eating 30 pieces of fruit. These may be found in abundance throughout every course, lying around, floating in bubbles, and even carried by some enemies. The player can choose to eat everything they come across on their path. However, this approach may result in significant portions of the game being missed out, as the true depth of the gameplay lies in exploring every part of the courses. This is further supported by the puzzle element of the game, which encourages the player to apply strategy to achieve a high score. For instance, the player will gain more points from eating one kind of a fruit in a row, and even more so if the fruit is a Favorite Fruit or a Lucky Fruit. In addition, valuable secrets are hidden throughout every course, that will contribute to summit the total score.
For the full single-player experience, Story Mode contains the substance of the game. The courses are spread across six pages, containing four courses each. Being numbered from 1 to 4, the courses are sorted by difficulty, and the choice of which course to play is made individually for each page. However, while the first page will always display four courses, the following pages will initially be limited to only one course. In order to unlock the remaining courses on the following pages, the player must seek out and collect Special Hearts (not to be confused with Heart Fruit). Each course thereby has three collectible hearts, and the number of hearts collected will determine the number of additional courses that will be unlocked on the following page. For example, if the player collects two hearts during a course, they will be allowed to choose from course 1, 2, and 3 on the next page.
Living together in harmony at Yoshi's Island, the Yoshis are able to maintain a perpetual state of joy through the fruit-bearing Super Happy Tree. However, Baby Bowser becomes envious of this happiness and casts a spell to transform the entire island into a pop-up storybook. In addition he also steals the Super Happy Tree, further weakening the Yoshis and making them fall to gloom.
While successful with his wicked deed, six eggs were yet able to survive the trial and hatch. Confused about the dismal state of their world, the baby Yoshis knew that something was amiss. And so, deciding to fight the gloom with cheer, they set out to retrieve the Super Happy Tree and restore happiness to the island.
On their way to Baby Bowser's castle, the Yoshis must progress through the six pages of the storybook, encountering six different areas of the island. While each page consists of four courses each, the path to Baby Bowser's castle will only consist of one course per page. After progressing to the castle and completing one of the final courses, the Yoshi in play will face Baby Bowser in a final showdown. Following his defeat, a final narration will convey the story from each of the six pages and courses the Yoshis went through, ending with the Yoshis standing together in joy, encircling the Super Happy Tree.
Originally titled Yoshi's Island 64 for the 64DD floppy drive and then moved to cartridge instead, the game was developed by the Yoshi's Island team, directed by Hideki Konno and produced by Takashi Tezuka. With the first promotional video clip from the game being revealed at Shoshinkai in November 1996, Yoshi's Island 64 presented lush, colorful worlds of pre-rendered 3D graphics and polygonal animations, also demonstrating the Nintendo 64's ability to run 2D games. Shigeru Miyamoto said the 2D format was necessary to create the artistic style of graphics the development team wanted. The game's title was eventually changed to Yoshi's Story, being announced in August 1997, with a release of promotional screenshots from upcoming games. Shortly after, the game was also noted to be getting a memory expansion, extending from 96 to 128 megabits.
With the game's initial release hitting Japan on December 21, 1997, the international release was slightly delayed. With mixed reviews from the press, the game was noted to be too easy and little rewarding. Nintendo of America would thus demand the difficulty bar of the game to be raised. With extra time to polish the title, several changes were made to the international release, including graphical cleanup; the addition of white fences on cardboard courses; Egg Blocks with colors matching the Yoshi in play; new locations for some items; a slightly different ending when the player finishes a course with only melons; and additional secrets, including hidden coin formations that spell out letters. Furthermore, the updated version also added a save feature to Story Mode, allowing the player to continue the game from the last page reached.
While the game's overall sound effects were designed by Hajime Wakai, the palette of vocal expressions for Yoshi were recorded by Kazumi Totaka, making Yoshi's Story the first game to feature a voice for the character. The recorded samples have since been constituting the official voice for Yoshi, making a second appearance in the 1999 title Super Smash Bros., to further be recycled in succeeding games that Yoshi appeared in. This trend was eventually interrupted in 2009 with the release of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which used the original Yoshi cry from Super Mario World in homage to that game.
Aside from providing the voice for Yoshi, Kazumi Totaka also composed the music. The game features an interactive soundtrack, where the music will change dynamically. For example, if Yoshi is harmed to the point where the Smile Meter has no remaining petals, the music will sweep down to a lower pitch and tempo, reflecting his dreary mood. But if Yoshi eats a Heart Fruit and becomes Super Happy, the music will instantly switch to a rock version of the currently playing theme. Totaka has also hidden his 19-note signature melody in the game, which may be heard on the Trial Mode course select screen, after the background music has looped eight times.
Prior to the game's release, a promotional soundtrack was released in North America, titled Music to Pound the Ground To: Yoshi's Story Game Soundtrack. Published by The Original Shape CD, Inc., the 15-track CD had the characteristic trait of being shaped to outline the print on the disc, illustrating Yoshi's head. However, as an asymmetrically shaped CD, it raises compatibility issues with most non-portable CD players. The soundtrack was later released in Japan on February 4, 1998, published by Pony Canyon. Titled Yoshi Story Original Soundtrack (ヨッシーストーリー オリジナルサウンドトラック Yosshī Sutōrī Orijinaru Saundotorakku), the album was released as Vol. 5 in the national Nintendo Sound Series. With every score and fanfare from the game included on the disc, the release contained a total of 49 tracks, plus a final bonus track. The third and last issue of the soundtrack, Love, Peace & Happiness: The Original Yoshi's Story Soundtrack, contained 28 tracks, and was released in Germany on April 9, 1998, published by Nintendo of Europe.
Marketing and sales
According to the Japanese magazine Famitsu, Yoshi's Story sold 53,428 copies on the day of its release in Japan. As a result, it gained the number seven rank in Famitsu's top ten best-selling video games chart. The game sold an additional 118,502 copies in the region by January 4, 1998, dropping to the number eight spot. By the end of that year, Yoshi's Story sold a total of 618,789 copies in Japan, making it the 27th best-selling video game in the country in 1998. In the German market, it sold 150,000 units from January through September 1998. This made it the region's sixth-best-selling console game of the period.
Nintendo intended to release Yoshi's Story in North America by the 1997 holiday season, but the release was delayed until March 1998. A Nintendo official said that the delay was "based on us demanding A-plus quality." Once the game was completed, Nintendo initially shipped 800,000 units from Japan to American retailers. Retailers were concerned that there would be shortages (like there had been for GoldenEye 007), but a Nintendo official promised that the shipment would satisfy demand.
In an effort to promote the game in the U.S., Nintendo direct-mailed advertisements to recent console buyers; put advertisements in gaming and children's magazines; and aired a 30-second television advertisement on NBC, Fox Kids, Kids' WB and Nickelodeon during children's programming. On March 7, 1998, Nintendo pre-launched the game in Lizard Lick, North Carolina; a town of 1,300 residents. The event featured tongue-themed contests for children, and video terminals that let people try out the game. While Yoshi's Story was originally scheduled for a release by March 9, 1998, it was postponed due to El Niño storms. It was officially released the following day, on March 10, 1998, with a MSRP of US $59.95.
An article in Financial Times said that the late release, an inadequate supply, and distribution errors had led to poor sales for Yoshi's Story in the U.S. Within a month, the game was being discounted by more than 50%. Even so, Yoshi's Story became a Player's Choice title on August 23, 1998, and its MSRP was reduced to US $39.95. PC Data, which tracked sales in the United States, reported that the game sold 679,219 units and earned $32.6 million in revenues by the end of 1998. This made it the country's eighth-best-selling Nintendo 64 release of the year. According to The NPD Group, Yoshi's Story was the 16th best selling video game in the U.S. in 1998.
Upon its initial release, Metacritic gave Yoshi's Story a 65 out of 100 rating based on eight reviews, indicating "Mixed or average reviews". Joe Fielder of GameSpot noted that Yoshi's Story "was obviously designed so that younger players could play through quickly and feel some sense of accomplishment", and called it "good for a rental at best." Edge highlighted the game's pre-rendered graphics for their variety of colors and scenery, but criticized the gameplay for being too easy and lacking challenge. Amongst the few more positive reviews, Game Informer praised its unusual art direction, unique progression system, and numerous hidden secrets.
Next Generation reviewed the Nintendo 64 version of the game, rating it two stars out of five, and stated that "Yoshi's Story could have been a renaissance for side-scrollers. Instead, it sounds more like a death knell."
On September 17, 2007, Nintendo made the initial release of Yoshi's Story on the Wii's Virtual Console service. The game made second place in Virtual Console downloads on the week of its release, behind Super Mario Bros. However, the critics' reviews for the VC release of the game were lower than those of the N64 release. GameSpot gave the VC download a "Poor" score of 4.0; 1.3 points lower than the previous Nintendo 64 review. The updated review gave Yoshi's Story five demerits: "Derivative", "Shallow", "Short", "Stripped" and "Too Easy". In IGN editor Lucas M. Thomas's review for the VC release, he gave it a 6.0 for "Okay", saying that the gameplay was "nonsensical" and "unengaging." Thomas commented that the game's "system of grocery-hunting was far and away removed from the style of play presented in the SNES Yoshi's Island, and far and away removed from that game's sense of fun." He also believed that the absence of Baby Mario and 50+ levels made the "premise [feel] disconnected. Boring", and that Yoshi's Story was "not the sequel to Yoshi's Island that it could have been."
Game Boy Advance tech demo
When Nintendo first unveiled the Game Boy Advance to U.S. game developers on April 10, 2000, one of the available demonstrations was a tech demo derived from Yoshi's Story. It was specifically developed to show off the Game Boy Advance's graphical capacity, featuring an opening demo and a single looping course. The opening displayed a pre-rendered rotating island, resembling the shape of a Yoshi, also taking advantage of the system's affine rotate-and-zoom feature (akin to the Super Nintendo's Mode 7) to render a seascape in perspective. The demo's level design was based on the colorful cardboard theme of Yoshi's Story. However, the gameplay differed significantly from the original game. For instance, Yoshi was unable to use his tongue; nor could he throw eggs, in spite of being able to obtain them. Screenshots from the demo also show the presence of giant Shy Guys, that were primarily designed to demonstrate system's advancement from the Game Boy Color's 10-pixel sprite limit. In spite of the fact that Nintendo had published a promotional image of a Game Boy Advance with the tech demo running on it, it was never released as a completed game. However, someone eventually salvaged the tech demo and showcased its functionality as a game.
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- Yoshi's Story Instruction Booklet. NUS-P-NYS-NUK4. Nintendo, 1998. For introduction, see p. 5. For clearing courses, see p. 13. For Yoshi's abilities, see pp. 8-11. For Special Hearts, see p. 14. For saving the game, see p. 18. For 30 melons per course, see p. 13. For pause screen, see p. 15. For basic points from fruit, see p. 18. For enemy multiplier bonuses, see p. 18.
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