Yoshi’s New Island’s and the magic of textures

When I played Yoshi’s New Island back at E3 2013, I kind of hated it. Bland graphics and recycled game design are not how one goes about paying homage to one of the greatest video games of all time, dammit.

But the final version of the game has improved on at least one front, thankfully. It’s too early to say if the game itself is a worthy successor to the original just yet (or rather, it’s too early for me to be legally allowed to weigh in), but at least it no longer looks butt-ugly.

Unlike the folks behind The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Takashi Tezuka and Arzest evidently weren’t content to leave their game as a dull, flat, polygonal effigy of a Super NES classic. While that’s exactly what I saw back at E3, at some point someone went in and said, “Hey guys, what if this game weren’t an ugly disappointment?” And so they gave it a touch of style.


The funny thing is, they really didn’t do that much to change the game’s visuals, so far as I can tell. It’s still a bunch of polygonal critters running around in the exact same polygonal world, a 3D simulation of Yoshi’s Island‘s visual style with fairly low-impact character models. And yet! The difference now is that those polygons have been drenched with a bunch of textures to make them look like real-world materials. Where before the game consisted of nearly solid-colored polygons awkwardly smooshed against backgrounds designed to look like fabric cut-outs and pastel illustrations, now everything boasts an artsy veneer. Yoshi, his enemies, and even background elements like pipes look more like a felt board diorama come to life than a cheap 3D game. The game already had some textures on its assets, but those details are far more prominent now, and it makes a world of difference.

I won’t deny that I still prefer the bold, MS Paint style of the original Yoshi’s Island. But if we must give into the tyranny of polygons, this is a pretty good way to go about it. I’m just impressed how a seemingly incidental detail – a minor tweak to the graphical patina! – makes such a huge difference. Because down inside, aren’t we all graphics whores at heart?

5 thoughts on “Yoshi’s New Island’s and the magic of textures

  1. The blotchy water colour textures are at least interesting to look at. The reception would probably be a lot more positive if this game didn’t have to live up to one of the most visually striking 2D games ever created. The same was true for ALBW, which isn’t a bad looking game (in motion), but how was it ever going to live up to ALTTP’s aesthetic, which was essentially a perfect, pastel cartoon?

    Nintendo — struggling to live up to their own standards since 1995 :P I kid. Both of these games may very well play better than the originals.

  2. Wow, that looks much better! I really ought to give Link Between Worlds a go. My favorite in the series is the NES original, so the lack of hand holding in LBW is probably something I would really enjoy. I wonder if the “dull, flat” look is part of why I haven’t picked it up yet…

  3. It would be interesting to see a screen comparison between E3 and now. After LBW screens did the opposite of sell the game to me, I am hesitant to take any 3DS screenshots as a representation of the game’s graphical prowess. In motion LBW was amazing, so I am glad I looked past the screenshots.

  4. Reminds me a bit of the style of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Same sort of nursery-school textures.

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