Mario & Yoshi (AKA Yoshi, AKA Yoshi’s Egg)
Game Freak, known for developing that little named game series called Pokémon, has been around for a little longer than you may have expected. In fact back in 1991 they developed a game for the NES and Game Boy starring Mario’s favourite dinosaur, Yoshi! However this game is no platformer (Super Mario World was released a year previous on the Super Nintendo and Yoshi’s Island was 4 years away) this is a puzzle game.
Puzzle games don’t usually have storylines, but here there are two game modes. One is the Game A, like in Tetris, where it’s never ending. Just rack up a high score and show it off to your friends. The second game mode is Game B. The object of this game is to clear the screen, much like Dr. Mario, but in this case it’s completely clearing it. With each stage there are higher stacks to begin with, adding to the difficulty. There is also a multiplayer mode (coming soon to Nintendo 3DS).
As with a large number of puzzle games, Mario & Yoshi involves matching blocks to make them disappear. Match two Boos or two Bloopers, etc, and they vanish. How do you control them? You control Mario at the bottom the screen. Using Mario you can swap adjacent columns (there are four columns) so that the falling blocks (two at a time) land in the right places. Sometimes you have to be very quick and plan ahead, because you are told what’s coming and where. The final aspect is the eggs. Bottom halves of eggs land and if you build on them with many different blocks, then when a top half comes along and you complete the egg, those in between get compressed and a Yoshi pops out. Points depend on the number of blocks between, and this is reflected in Yoshi’s appearance. You get a winged Yoshi if you compress a lot of blocks, and a lot of points.
All in all its a great little puzzle game, with real ‘pick-up-and-play-ability’. You can sit there and be distracted by it for an hour or so without getting bored due to the subtle yet satisfying difficulty curve. However seasoned gamers will blast through the beginning levels incredibly fast, so fortunately, like Tetris and Dr. Mario you can speed it up and change the difficulty level (and music) to match your skills. Unfortunately the puzzle aspect is very limited and could be considered as too simple, especially when compared to the other puzzle games mentioned here.