Yoshi Touch & Go hovers dangerously close to being the first bona-fide classic on the DS. Like so many of Nintendo’s golden greats, it’s based on a simple concept and designed around the strengths of the platform. For a Sony or Microsoft game, this would usually just mean the technical strengths – let’s find out how many polys we can push and show off the new water shader that the boffins came up with last Wednesday – but with Nintendo, it’s always about the control. If Mario 64 wrote the book on what you can do with a 3D display, an analogue controller and a few buttons, and DK: Jungle Beat showed how much you could do with a stupid set of bongos, then Touch & Go is all about the power of the pen. It’s a game that would only work on the DS.
But its genius is flawed. Not enough to ruin the game should you buy it, but enough to make you think twice about the investment.
For those not in the know, this is the platform game where you draw the platforms. In the initial score attack mode, you first find yourself protecting baby Mario as he descends from the sky. Drawing slides keeps him collecting golden coins and out of trouble. Drawing rings around the various floating baddies traps them in bubbles and transforms them into coins. These can then be dragged into the infant’s path for points.
Sounds good? That’s nothing. Once Mario hits the ground, Yoshi comes to the rescue and the game becomes a little more like a regular 2D platformer, except that drawing is still the name of the game. Strokes create platforms for Yoshi to race across or bridges over chasms. Tapping the screen under Yoshi forces him to jump or hover. Tapping the screen elsewhere sends an egg flying off in that direction, and once again the various fiends can be circled, trapped and dragged. As Yoshi needs fruit to make eggs, you also need to keep him supplied with these. All this takes a little getting used to, but it’s brilliant. It’s also simple, intuitive, fun, imaginative, and very entertaining: all words we associate with Nintendo platformers from the original Super Mario through Yoshi’s Island to the present day.
However, here’s a few you might not be expecting: short, limited, mildly disappointing, lacking in overall vision. You might not want to hear it, but Yoshi’s Touch & Go is all these things as well.