1. Yoshi's Island
Yoshi's Island - 1995
Is this the last of the great islands? Before all the soldiers turned up with their guns and their smokescreens? Yoshi's Island is a gaming paradise. Not just in terms of the weather - everything here is classicly, brilliantly Nintendo. The game is subtitled 'Super Mario World 2' in the West, although the gameplay has been augmented to the point that it's barely recognisable as a Mario game. And the truth is, it was never supposed to be 'Super Mario World 2' anyway - that was tacked on to make sure it sold over here. Bah.
Above: There it is - the best island ever (and it's shameless sub-moniker)
That said, in some ways this is more deserving of being the console's flagship Mario title than Super Mario World. Blasphemy, maybe, but technically, the game does so much more with the SNES' abilities.
Above: Sorry to Dave H, this is way more impressive than SMW's bosses
And even looking beyond the extra familiarity with the SNES' architecture, the imagination on display here is way beyond anything seen in Super Mario World. And it's all because the island is a haven for imagination.
Above: This hasn't aged in the slightest. Looks beautiful, eh?
Look at the scenery. The island looks like it was scribbled down with crayons – a flow of consciousness from the brain of a genius. Few games have such a defined art style, and it's because you feel like you're looking at doodles, even the most outlandish bosses look totally at home within the context of the island.
Other coolness of note
Nintendo reportedly asked Miyamoto to make the game look like Donkey Kong Country. But he wasn't a massive fan of that game, so he instead pitched the island as the beautiful hand-drawn paradise we know and love today. Kudos to him.
The N64 sequel, Yoshi's Story, turns the whole island into a storybook. But that game isn't that similar at all to the original, so we're going to stick with the Yoshi's Island of the SNES game and its excellent DS counterpart, which is practically perfect in every way. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner.
Obviously we didn't mention the first island that sprung to your mind, so tell us why we're wrong (or possibly absolutely right anyways) in the comments.
09 Jul, 2010