Yoshi's Touch and Go review

NGC touches the dinosaur and makes him jump! Cough...

Yoshi's Touch and Go is very nearly the best thing on DS. For all its charm it is just a bit too short to beat Wario and Mario.

Still, if you can't wait until May (when it hits the UK) and you're toying with the idea of importing it, you'll find a minor classic and one of Nintendo's most original games of recent times. Fact.

It's a game of two parts, reuniting Yoshi with Baby Mario in similar fashion to Yoshi's Island on SNES and GBA. The first part of the game is an extension of the old DS demo that showed clouds being drawn under a plummeting Mario to break his fall. Here you've got to draw clouds with the stylus to avoid enemies and collect coins.

The second part of the game has Baby Mario being carried by Yoshi and, again, you've got to draw clouds and platforms so Yoshi can continue on his merry way.

The Yoshi bit has more to it though, as tapping the stylus over an enemy lets you chuck a saurian bum-egg at them, a move that can also be used to collect coins and egg-bestowing fruit. Tapping on Yoshi makes him leap, and doing so again enables his flutter jump. Finally, blowing into the microphone destroys all the clouds you've created.

It's all incredibly simple and brilliantly implemented, offering both unparalleled use of both the touch pad - there's absolutely no way you could control this game in any other fashion - and the dual screens. Enemies, coins and fruit appear over both screens, so you'll be frantically drawing platforms and egging things. It all gets very hectic.

It's also a game of great subtlety, as going for high scores (which is pretty much the aim of the main mode) requires lightning-fast stylus use and dazzling accuracy.

To be the best you'll need to egg-snatch, dispatch enemies and grab coins with a single projectile. It's the very paragon of the Nintendo ethic - anyone can play it but it's as deep as an ocean and very challenging.

Where the game falls down, though, is that it's small. The main mode contains only two levels - the Baby Mario and Yoshi elements we've just discussed.

This isn't a sprawling adventure at all, and as such seems a little mealy-mouthed, offering the unique experience you can only get with DS on the one hand, but a jarringly small portion of it with the other.

It's a disappointing realisation, but that's not really the be-all and end-all of Touch and Go, as the three other modes - Endless, Time Attack and Challenge - offer distinct riffs on the main template.

Endless is particularly good. You take Yoshi on an endless and increasingly difficult journey, with every 1000 metres reached seeing you swap over to a differently hued Yoshi. Like tackling Tetris' Marathon mode, it's hugely addictive and brain-meltingly enjoyable.

Touch and Go is a new breed of platformer, and while it doesn't quite reach the heights of Wario Ware and Mario 64 DS, it is still an essential DS purchase.

Yoshi's Touch and Go is out now in Japan and will be out for DS in the UK later this year

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