In addition, it’s a game that’s hard to get your teeth into. As a single encounter with any sort of baddie is enough to send you back to the Retry menu, any progress you make can be lost in a fraction of a second. Admittedly, this adds to the game’s addictive strengths, but at times it feels more than a little unfair. Sudden attacks from bombing bears when you have just hit the 3,000 metre mark are enough to cause a hideous outburst of profanity on the train into work. It’s the game that ASBOs were made for.
All the same, I can’t help loving it. Maybe it’s the presentation; the way that, like Yoshi’s Island, it creates its own strange world of wobbly edges and crayon colors, ludicrously cheerful music and childishly gleeful sound effects. Maybe I just can’t stop coming back to reclaim my spot in Marathon mode, or because the multiplayer versus mode – only one copy needed if you want to play against a friend – is also a lot of fun. But mostly, it has to be the game’s sheer charm. Just when you think you’re sick and tired of it, you leave it for a day, give it another try, and find yourself captivated once again by its stupid, but oddly brilliant gameplay. This could have been a classic, but let’s forget about what could have been. Should you buy it now? Well, it’s touch and go, but I would.
Nintendo has come up with a brilliant game mechanic, then failed to quite do it justice. The lack of proper single-player game is disappointing, but Yoshi’s old-fashioned arcade strengths should not be underestimated.