Chris Sell
07 May, 2005

Yoshi's Touch & Go Review

DS Review | Catch! Touch! Yoshi!
Yoshi's Touch & Go was originally shown in tech demo form at E3 last year when it was known as Balloon Trip. It was a simple game where Baby Mario was seen falling through the sky on the top screen while it was up to the player to draw lines of clouds on the bottom screen to guide him to coins and generally keep him safe from enemies. Read any hands-on reports from E3 2004 and many gave glowing reports to Balloon Trip. Thankfully, Nintendo took on board the praise it received and has turned this simple tech demo into a full game - Yoshi's Touch & Go.

For those who know very little about Yoshi's Touch & Go, let me get one important thing out of the way first. Yoshi's Touch & Go is not a platformer. It may look like one and many may think it is, but it's not. Infact, it actually shares more with puzzle games like Mr Driller than a Mario platformer. There is no overworld, no 'levels' and no bosses, the game is about high scores, quick reflexes and clever thinking. The game is essentially split into two different sections. The first is the Baby Mario stage. Here, with the aid of 3 balloons, Baby Mario falls down from the sky on the top screen, plunging towards the ground with a plethora of enemies and obstacles blocking his path. By using the touch screen, it's your job to guide him safely to the ground. By drawing clouds with the stylus you must guide him down the safest way you can, avoiding any harmful objects and enemies in his way.

If it were just a case of survival then Yoshi's Touch & Go would be a very simple game. Thankfully, the score system is what you're really playing against as you must concentrate on collecting coins just as much as survival. Coins can be obtained in many ways. The easiest coins are literally floating in the sky. By drawing the correct lines of clouds you can guide Baby Mario through rows of coins with ease. Gold coins are usually out in the open, but things like Blue coins, or the ultra rare Red coins, are usually cleverly placed between groups of enemies or spikes. Enemies aren't just there be avoided, they can be turned into coins too. By simply drawing a small circle of clouds you can trap enemies within a bubble, turning them into coins. It's goes deeper than that too as getting multiple enemies in one bubble will award you will blue coins, while capturing certain enemies (usually the cloud-like ones that fly quickly across the screen) produce red coins.

It doesn't just end there though because you then have to get the coins to Baby Mario. Initially players find that throwing the bubble up to Baby Mario is the best way but with extended play you can discover other techniques such as purposely popping a bubble onto a spiky enemy then drawing a cloud past the spike so Baby Mario picks up any coins placed around the spikes. This becomes an essential maneuver as throwing the bubble upwards can sometimes unwittingly disturb Baby Mario from his path. If Mario takes damage he'll lose one of his 3 balloons, lose them all and he'll fall to the ground and the game will over so it's important that you concentrate on keeping him safe as well as getting coins. Should you want to erase any cloud-drawing mistakes you have made you simply blow into the microphone and all the clouds on screen will be blown away. When Baby Mario finally reaches the ground, Yoshi then catches him and you move on to the second section of the game.

Here, Yoshi's Touch & Go turns into a side-scroller with Yoshi continuously moving from left to right (or right to left for those who set the options to 'left handed'.) Here the control methods for Yoshi are simple as they all use the touch screen again and there are similarities with the Baby Mario section. You can draw clouds to create safe pathways, this time over enemies or across holes. You can also draw bubbles again to trap coins and enemies - simply capture them in a bubble and drag it to Yoshi to get the points. But there are some big differences, the first being the use of Yoshi eggs. If you tap anywhere else on screen, you will fire an egg in that direction. Eggs can be used for collecting coins and destroying enemies, the latter of which now earn points also. Secondly, you can make Yoshi jump. Just tap him with the stylus and he'll leap in the air, touch him while he’s in mid-air, he will perform a flutter jump.

The Yoshi section is the deepest part of the game, mainly due to the combo system. By using your eggs you can gain extra bonus points for hitting 5 or more enemies/coins with a single throw, and it's these bonus points that are the key to gaining the highest scores. Novice players will notice rows of coins in place that are ready and waiting to used to get combo points from, but with experimentation you soon learn that there's a huge amount of combos you can set up yourself. By creating bubbles in mid air you can push push random coins into a line. By making walls of cloud you can slow Yoshi down or trap enemies, and by trapping them close enough together you can capture them into a bubble for bonus points. You can use walls to push away enemies too. By blocking the path of a couple of shy-guy's they'll turn around and you can again capture them into the same bubble for extra points.

But the best thing about the Yoshi section is that your performance in the Baby Mario stage directly effects what happens. The higher score you get, the better Yoshi you get to use and the more scoring potential you get for the level. For every 20 points you gain in the first part, you'll get more eggs for your Yoshi and more coins and enemies in the level. The game is actually split up into 4 different modes. 'Score Attack' is what I've described so far but there are some alternative ways of play. 'Marathon' will be the preferred mode for many. The name pretty much describes it, you basically have to survive as long as you can as you are scored on your distance travelled, but points are still important. Getting a good score in the Baby Mario section is important as it'll give you more eggs to defend yourself with, plus with every 100 points earned you'll get to use a Baby Mario star which will make you super quick and invincible for about 20 seconds. 'Marathon' is completely endless and randomly generated with a different section after each 1000m travelled so is ideal for retaining the interest of experienced players.

Beating the high scores on those 2 modes will unlock a further 2. 'Time Attack' is all about finishing as fast as you can. During the Baby Mario section there are stars that make you move quicker scattered about. Obviously the quickest way to the ground is to keep collecting these stars, so planning your route towards these will lead to faster times. Coin collecting is still important though as it'll determine how good your Yoshi will be for the next section. The Yoshi stage plays pretty much the same as it does in score attack but for 2 differences. The first is how the clouds work. In 'Time Attack' Yoshi actually moves faster on clouds, so keeping Yoshi off the ground will result in faster times. The other difference is toward the end of the stage. Instead of simply reaching a goal, Baby Luigi can be seen within the clutches of enemies in the top screen. You need to save Luigi by shooting the enemies down with your eggs, once he's safe the clock will stop giving you your final time. The final mode is 'Challenge' mode where you simply have to get as far as you can within a limited time period. Here the Baby Mario section is filled with stars and enemies where guiding an invincible Mario into them is key. The Yoshi however section begins with 100 second count down. For each enemy you kill or coin you collect, an extra second is put onto your clock. This mode is arguably the hardest in the game as you have to combine everything you already know and perform them quicker than ever before.

Yoshi's Touch & Go all works incredibly well and is extremely rewarding when you start hitting the high scores. It's one of those games where the better you get the better the game gets. On your first few hours of play, beating the 300pts score on the leaderboard seems tough, but it won't be long before you're achieving double that. It rewards experimentation and clever thinking more than just accurate use of the stylus. You always feel you can do better too so it has that 'one more go' quality that few games these day possess.

Yoshi's Touch & Go does infact feature a 2 player multiplayer mode which is a race to the finish through a Yoshi scrolling section. The idea is not only to try and make it to the end of the 1000m race, but to also disrupt your opponent as much as possible. By hitting three or more enemies or coins in a single shot, extra obstacles will be sent to your opponent’s level much like how garbage blocks would be sent to the other player in Tetris. Control is all on the bottom screen while your opponent’s actions are shown on the top screen. Sadly, multiplayer is rather limited, and with just the single mode to play you'll tire of it quickly. Considering it all works perfectly with just one copy of the game it's certainly a positive addition to the game, but I can't help wishing there was more to it, be it more modes or some specially designed 2player mini games.

Graphically the game is solid. The clean and colourful 2D sprites come alive with the fluid animation. The style of the game is reminiscent of the SNES classic Yoshi's Island and alot of the enemies sprites have been reused from it, which is certainly no bad thing as that's still one of the best looking 2D games around. The backgrounds are splendid with the night skies gradually turning into dawn or the afternoon sunshine slowly becoming dusk. Initially the areas seem rather samey, but as you get better you get much further into each mode and you'll soon come across muddy jungles, creepy caves and all the other kinds of environments you'd expect from Nintendo. The music also shares alot with the SNES title, which again is no bad thing by any means. Upon switching the game on you're welcomed with the wonderful Yoshi's Island opening them music, while the Yoshi sections are filled with favourite tunes from the past. The game features some new music too, with the Baby Mario section being accompanied a relaxing, dreamy tune you'd to get when seeing a baby floating slowly to the ground with the aid of balloons. The sound effects all fit according with Yoshi making all the usual grunts and squeaks he's used since the not-so-classic N64 game, Yoshi's Story.

The hardest part of Yoshi's Touch & Go to assess is its lifespan. While the game isn't a platformer so technically doesn't have an end like platformers do, how much does beating a score keep you coming back? Well, that's almost entirely dependant on the individual player. If you have a friend to compete with, or even form an online scoreboard within a message board forum, Yoshi's Touch & Go becomes a highly addictive game. As I said earlier, it's one of those games where the better you get the better the game gets - having competition is a key part of this. For those without a goal, there's little reason to keep playing it other than for pure enjoyment, and that's where the only real fault with the game lies. While there are 4 modes play (plus one hidden Balloon Pop mini game), they're not radically different from each other to keep a single player interested in the long term.

Yoshi's Touch & Go is a game I would happily recommend to anyone. It can be initially a little overwhelming at first, especially for younger gamers, but once you've learnt the basics and begin to discover some of the deeper strategies availableto you, you’ll find this to be one of the most enjoyable and unique experiences in gaming today. It’s not quite the system-selling killer app the DS is after, but it is a superb game that all DS owners should give a try, especially considering that with the entire control scheme being based around the features of the DS, Yoshi's Touch & Go simply couldn't exist on anything else. For those playing alone, longevity may be an issue given the game relies entirely on scoreboard play, so some may feel a little short changed should they buy this on release. But if you know anyone you can compete with, be they friends or online forum users, Yoshi's Touch & Go is more than worth its asking price.
The Score
Yoshi's Touch & Go is a fine example of what the machine is all about. Using the touchscreen exclusively for control, as well as the microphone and the top screen, means this simply isn't playable on anything other than the DS. For that reason alone means it's worth a look, the fact it's a damn good game to boot indicates that Yoshi's Touch & Go is a highly recommended piece of software. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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8 years ago
Awsome review! I was keeping an eye on this, it looked like a pretty coo idea. I know my cousin is getting it so i'll be able to play it icon_wink.gif
8 years ago
I agree, best review I've read in a while. Keep it up icon_biggrin.gif

There are just too many great games coming out for DS. I can't buy them all. icon_sad.gif
Yoshi's Touch & Go, I think, will be one of the unfortunate games that undeservingly end up getting left on the side. I'd love to be able to play it, but I don't think it's quite high enough on my priorities list to make it past the other games icon_kero.gif
8 years ago
I finally got yoshi (Japanese version, on special for $25 delivered from play-asia!), and I'd have to say this is THE DS game. Sure it won't last forever, but it shows the potential for the hardware is incredible. I'm totally addicted and have already spent 15 hours on the game, more then I am on games with 'more content'.
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