Yoshi Touch & Go (Catch! Touch! Yoshi in the original Japanese) is one of the easiest games to describe that you'll ever come across. You start out as annoyingly squeaky Baby Mario, falling through the sky with only three balloons to slow his descent. The ground is some 1000 yards below - that's 914.4m in real measurements - otherwise known as "plenty of time for a baby to achieve terminal velocity". Somehow, the three balloons tied to his nappy are enough to slow Mario's gradual downwards descent. A pity, then, that a wide variety of ghosts, spiked balls and other traditional Mario foes are all too ready to pop his balloons and leave him free falling prey for Kamek the MagiKoopa.
In this early section of the game, your control is limited only by your drawing prowess; specifically in your ability to draw platforms for baby Mario to fall on, pointing him away from foes and towards as many coins as possible. At the same time it's possible to encircle foes and form bubbles around them, turning them into coins which can be dragged using the stylus into Mario's path. If you draw too much, you can simply blow into the DS microphone to blow away your clouds, although it's a risky move if Mario's headed for a safe cloudbank that suddenly becomes a drop straight towards a spiky foe.
Once the 1000 yard mark is reached, Mario's balloons finally give in and burst, but this is where Yoshi jumps into the fray. In a move reminiscent of the grievously underappreciated Yoshi's Island, it's Yoshi's task to then carry the infant plumber-to-be to the end of the level. Yoshi continually walks from one side of the screen to the other - you can choose either the traditional left to right or right to left if you're a southpaw - and it's your job to draw him platforms, tap on him to make him jump and tap elsewhere to fire eggs at the hordes who'll happily stop Yoshi and pinch his infant cargo. Yoshi's increased abilities come with a price, as while Mario can pop three balloons before seeing the dreaded Game Over message, Yoshi will fail at the first contact with any foe whatsoever.
That, in a nutshell, is Yoshi Touch & Go. If you approached the title with the expectation that it would be a regular platformer - and there's no doubting that the title does lean heavily on gamer's fond memories of Yoshi's Island and even Yoshi's Story - you'll come away mightily disappointed, as it's possible to safely deliver Baby Mario to his end of level conclusion within your first few attempts. For many gamers, Yoshi Touch & Go will seem like a neat demonstration of the DS's control capabilities, and little else.
Scratch a little deeper - hopefully not on your DS screen - and you'll find an interesting and challenging little title that draws more on developing key strategies to deliver high scores than on having scores of levels or lots of shiny boss characters to fight. While the game's single player modes (Score Attack, Marathon, Challenge and the unlockable Time Attack ) all use the same basic play mechanic of falling Baby Mario and waddling Yoshi, it's the variance that they bring in determining your score that gives the game some long term appeal. Once again, if you're not the type of gamer who revels in having a high score for the sake of a high score, then Yoshi Touch & Go will leave you largely dissatisfied.
Score Attack is a pure coin collecting challenge that also unlocks Time Attack if you beat the game's inbuilt 300 coin high score. Marathon and Challenge give you theoretically endless modes, charging you to either get as far as possible before dying (Marathon) or as far as possible before a counter runs out (Challenge). Finally, the unlockable Time Attack gives Yoshi even more of a baby-related headache, as you have to ferry Baby Mario around while trying to rescue Baby Luigi, all against a limited length playfield.
After the immense depth of Super Mario DS, Nintendo fans could have probably expected a Mario-themed title that was a little bit longer than what's on offer in Yoshi Touch & Go, and from the perspective of the platform gamer it's a bit of a flat title, albeit one that's not without its charms. Taken on its own merits, however, and especially if you're a fan of high score challenges against an ever-ticking clock, Yoshi Touch & Go is a great advertisement for the DS, and a solid way to spend short bursts of hyperactive gaming time.
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