Just before Nintendo shifted its attention to the N64, it backed a series of games that sent off the 16-bit days in style. These late bloomers included Killer Instinct, Chrono Trigger and (even later) Kirby Super Star, but we've always had a soft spot for Yoshi's Island, the hyper-adorable, crayon-colored follow-up to Super Mario World. It came about just as the gaming community was embracing horrid, jaggy polygons, and as a 2D game about a dinosaur and a baby, it had an uphill battle for popularity. IMO the game is as awesome today as it was then, and its catchy tunes (from Mario composer Koji Kondo) are as memorable as anything else on the system.
Take this track, for instance - I bet several of you fondly recall it almost immediately. There's a plucky, guilt-free feeling to the song, one that suggests you're in for a damn cheerful adventure of the highest Nintendo caliber. It has the same hum-able quality of the very first Super Mario Bros song (World 1-1, derp) and I'd say it's a perfect way to kick off the end of the 16-bit glory days.
Above: The cave music is slower and (gasp) dramatic, but still extremely catchy
Above: A very somber, reflective remix of the caves from OverClocked ReMix
Above: Had to mention the bass-slappin' title screen music as well. SMILE DARN YA
Yoshi's Island was later ported to GBA as Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, though it's not a perfect emulation and should be avoided in favor of the real thing. However, it's still not available on Wii's Virtual Console, so unless you have a SNES handy or resort to "other" means, you can't officially play this timeless classic. Word is it's coming to 3DS though, so you may get a fresh crack at Yoshi's Island some time in 2011...
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