Is it time for a 3D Yoshi game?
The new Yoshi game for the Nintendo Switch - Yoshi's Crafted World, originally shown at E3 2017 has been quietly delayed until Spring 2019. For fans of Yoshi's Woolly World on the Wii U, this was a big disappointment as the new Yoshi title appeared to be another great adventure and co-op game, that would be perfect for the social nature of the console.
The 2.5D gameplay style has suited the Yoshi series well so far, but let's switch gears and think about how a 3D Yoshi platform game - in the style of 3D Mario games would be like.
Previous 3D Yoshi appearances
The first time Yoshi was playable in a free roaming 3D game was in Super Mario 64 DS, the Nintendo DS port of Super Mario 64. Interestingly, he is the first character you start the game with, and Yoshi has to rescue the other characters Mario, Luigi and Wario... though when did Wario join the good guys? But that's a story for another day.
In Super Mario 64 DS, Yoshi has pretty much free movement, with his flutter jump and tongue ability. He's able to eat some enemies and spit them out, he can also swallow them and turn them into eggs, which then can be thrown as projectiles - the same as what he can do in the Yoshi series.
Yoshi has made other appearances in 3D Mario games as Mario's sidekick in Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube and Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii. His development was somewhat limited, mainly featuring the flutter jump and his tongue. He has no egg ability in these games.
In Sunshine, Yoshi is able to spit juice at enemies much like Mario sprays water using F.L.U.D.D., Yoshi is unable to handle water, he will disintegrate once you touch water. Probably the developers didn't wanna bother to program this ability in.
In Galaxy 2, Yoshi's tongue can be aimed using the Wii remote as a pointer. For the most part he plays fairly similar to how he did in Sunshine, except no juice spitting, he just eats enemies and his tongue can be used to do pull on some objects and also use special flowers to get a jump assist.
During my playthrough of Super Mario Odyssey, there were so many throwback elements from the previous 3D Mario games. In the "post game" after beating Bowser, Yoshi was once again on the roof of Peach's castle just like he was in Super Mario 64! He is not wearing a hat, which means that... you can capture him with Cappy!
Being able to capture Yoshi, you are basically playing as Yoshi, and it gave me a thought. Why hasn't there been a 3D Yoshi platform game? When Mario has captured Yoshi, Yoshi is being controlled as himself, and you have Yoshi's full range of movement and ability without carrying Mario on his back. It's like having a mini-game featuring Yoshi within the game itself! This is a bit different compared to Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy 2 where he is just a companion.
Besides sporting a Mario cap, blue eyes and a moustache, captured Yoshi is able to do his classic flutter jump and use his long tongue to eat enemies, but there's also something new. Yoshi's tongue can be used to "stick" onto objects such as walls, a new way to maneuver which gives him added agility. Sadly, Yoshi still disappears once he touches water like in Sunshine though - but we know he does know how to swim!
Besides these four games, the only other game that comes close to Yoshi having a 3D environment is Yoshi's Safari on the Super NES. As a rail shooting game, you don't really have much control in general besides aiming. However a new game with this concept wouldn't be all too bad, now that motion and pointer controls have become more mature technology. Then again having something like the the Super Scope would be super cool!
How could a 3D Yoshi game work?
Yoshi's main abilities should be using his tongue similar to how it works in Super Mario Odyssey, combined with his traditional skill of throwing eggs and other projectiles. One way this can be done is using motion controls similar to how Mario's Luma attack or a Cappy throw work. The flutter jump is a mainstay and should be there too.
Yoshi's eggs can be obtained in the traditional way by eating enemies and turning them into eggs. But let's add a twist, scanning an amiibo (something that Nintendo loves to sell) would give bonus eggs - or eggs with special designs depending which amiibo is scanned in.
In Odyssey, the Yoshi tongue control is done by either button press or shaking the Joy-con or pro controller. For greater precision, perhaps the pointer capability can be brought back from Galaxy 2. Though as the Switch does not have a sensor bar, along with potential problems with portable play might make this a challenge to implement.
The iconic Koopa shell abilities should be brought back! In Super Mario World, everyone remembers the different abilities of red, yellow and blue Koopa shells. Red shells allow Yoshi to breathe fire, yellow shells produces clouds that kill enemies, and blue shells give Yoshi wings to fly for a period. Other colours could be added to give Yoshi new abilities or power-ups.
Long story short, old abilities along with some new creative additions should make a 3D Yoshi game a fun experience to play!
Could a co-op mode be done? How about having a Poochy assist on the side where the second player can plow down enemies, obstacles and everything in sight!
Who should be the main boss?
Hmm, the usual enemies like Bowser and Kamek the Magikoopa are a little overdone. For the main protagonist, how about going with some old foes like Wart and Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2? King Boo would be an interesting choice too, given that Yoshi was "scared" and couldn't enter the ghost houses in Super Mario World and now he'd have to confront his fears! Boos don't appear very often in the Yoshi series, so it'd be a nice way to change things up.
Don't get me wrong, the various 2D Yoshi games from Yoshi's Island to Yoshi's Woolly World were great titles. I especially loved the co-op mode in Yoshi's Woolly World, it wasn't as hectic as the New Super Mario Bros. series, but still very innovative and interactive. Donkey Kong got his 3D adventure in Donkey Kong 64 back in 1999, it's time for Yoshi to hit the 3D stage as well.