|A Lot bigger than it looks...|
|HEY!... HEY!... HEY! *Yoshi puts gun to head*|
The scenery and graphics in general were unique to the game and I have never really seen anything similar on the SNES since. Unlike the platforms game before it, it gets away from the blocky feeling of it all with nice, clean transitions between tiles and even adds some nice effects like round, rolling objects (such as giant boulders that chase you through caves Indiana Jones-style).
There are 8 worlds with 8 levels, including 2 boss castles placed at level 4 and 8 of each world. Each boss battle is unique and fun - I went back and played them over and over just because the battles are so amazing. The most memorable battle for me was one where you fight this giant blob of some sort wearing an equally enormous pair of pants, which slowly sink down as you throw eggs at him. When you deal the finishing blow, his pants disappear completely and he turns red (blushing, I always assumed), then flies around the room like a deflating balloon.
|Have you no shame?!|
|Suck it Neil Armstrong|
|No! I'm not Yoshi you idiot! Get the green dinosaur-thing!|
You defeat him by sending the same shock wave back at him, making him trip, and then ground pounding him instead. It's called Karma little guy. When you feel manly (dinosaurly) enough, having sufficiently beaten up a baby, the wizard Kamek will rain magic down on him, like every other boss before you, enhancing his abilities. Apparently he gave Bowser a little too much out of desperation, which results in him growing to ridiculous proportions, destroying most of the castle on the process. Oh well, there's probably thousands of minions who would like to stop pacing in far-off regions anyway.
|Nice night were' ha- HOLY DONKEY BALLS!|
When you do finally defeat him, he'll erupt into magical fireworks and collapse on the remains of the castle before you. Then, you save Luigi and are returned to the Stork who delivers you to your parents. Decades later, a sibling rivalry begins that makes Yoshi will wish he had just stayed out of the whole thing and saved himself the trouble.
For me, the game was a perfect mix of cheeriness and ominousness. Most of the levels are bright and happy with friendly-ish enemies who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, whereas the castles are dark, dreary, and usually consist of non-biological enemies like spikes, crushing blocks... and spiky crushing blocks. On top of that, the replay value is great because each level keeps a score of how many items you collect and "grades" you for your completion with a percentage. You can go back and see all these percentages on the level select screen and unlock bonus levels upon completing every level in a world. This brought me countless hours of enjoyment as I scoured the levels for secrets like all the good platform games before it.
|Not your grandfather's platform game...|
|I just came.|
So you wake up as your uncle heads out the door to deal with some situation at the castle. He tells you to stay inside and heads out into the storm. You dick around inside for a while, throwing pots around in a fit because he treats you like a little kid. Wait... you are just a kid. How did that happen? Oh well, moving on. You walk outside and follow the road north to the castle, getting heckled by any guards you talk to along the way, eventually making it to the courtyard of the castle. After being turned away by a rather menacing-looking guard, you find your way in through a hole in the garden and enter the castle dungeons.
Before long, you bump into your fallen uncle who was beset by castle guards - who have gone mad for some reason - and tells you to take up his sword and shield and attempt to finish the task he could not; rescue Princess Zelda. This is where you get your first real experience in fighting - both in-game and out it would seem since you're just a boy now - as you clear the way through the dungeon guards to the cell where Princess Zelda is being held hostage. Once you defeat the jailer and rescue the princess, she asks that you take her to the sanctuary by means of a secret passageway hidden in the castle. You brave your way through dungeon rats, bats, and other perils then finally make it through the the sanctuary where a wise old priest agrees to keep her safe while you try to figure out why the hell you just had to fight through once-friendly guards.
|You better not molest her while I'm gone.|
The majority of the game involves just that as you traverse all of known Hyrule in search of three pendants of power that you need to obtain the long-lost Master Sword from the Lost Woods. The Master Sword is the only thing that can stop the evil wizard and his plans to enter the Dark Land and free Ganon. The pendants are hidden away in three castles located all over Hyrule. Each castle has items that will help you along your way, like all the Zeldas before it. You can also find items in other places that will help you greatly, which really promotes exploration as a lot of them are hidden away.
The boss battles are exciting and each victory is sweet, leaving you with a great feeling when you manage to kill the boss. Bosses are much more intelligent and Link is much more controllable than previous Zelda installments so it really gives the game a whole new epic feel. The music does nothing but compliment the intense battles and atmosphere of the game, so I was constantly immersed in it. The villages and townsfolk who live there are also a welcome change in pace when you come back from the dangers of distant locations.
Once I had acquired all three pendants I was off to the Lost Woods. As soon as I entered I was immediately hit by the atmosphere of the place; the thick, fog slowly rolling by, the twists and turns of the old gnarled wood and the suspenseful music as I searched for the resting place of the one and only Master Sword. Then I saw it. A beam of light shone down upon the stone pedestal bearing it through the ages. Small critters scurried away as I approached the pedestal and presented the pendants before the alter. With new strength, I claimed the sword and held it high above my head, feeling its awesome power course through me. She must have sensed my success because soon after, I received another telepathic vision from Princess Zelda, once again beseeching me to come to her aid as guards approached the sanctuary that she had been hiding in.
|Note to self: do NOT sell this to a merchant.|
|For my next trick... bubbles!|
Caught off guard, he went into a flurry, unleashing his foul magics against me. With the aid of the Master Sword, I found I was able to deflect his attacks back towards him. After a long battle of deflecting balls of plasma, dodging lightning bolts, and staying keen as he transported around the room, I defeated him. But he was not willing to give up yet. With his last ounce of power, he opened the way to the Dark Land, sending me through to meet my doom at the hands of the evil trapped within.
As the dizziness wore off I found myself in the tainted Dark Land; a shadow of the former Golden Land that contained the legendary Triforce. In order to restore the land to it's original state and defeat Ganon, I would need to rescue the seven maidens, ancestors of the original wise men who had formed the seal on the Golden Land. Once rescued, they could combine their powers to break the seal on the wizard's fortress atop Death Mountain. The enemies and obstacles I faced before me made the dangers of Hyrule pale by comparison. The seven bosses guarding the crystals entrapping the seven maidens proved to be an enormous challenge as the power of the Dark Land enhanced their abilities greatly. But one by one they fell, and at last I had all seven crystals I needed to break the seal to the wizard's lair.
|The not-so Golden Land.|
I tracked him down, making my way back to the pyramid and jumping down the hole the wizard had made in the top. Then it hit me; the pyramid was the resting place of the Triforce... and Ganon himself was the new curator. There was no way out now; it was inevitable that we fight... deep down I knew it would happen all along. He tested my abilities like a child tests a bug, toying with me as he threw a trident around the room like a boomerang. I got a few stabs in at him, which he quickly laughed off and proceeded to blow all the lights out in the room, not giving me the decency of fighting him face to face. I scurried to relight the torches, hoping even the dimmest light would give me a glimpse of his shadow as he moved stealthily around the room in full stalker mode. He clawed at me in the dark as I struggled to fight back, sustaining several blows before he finally backed off. This went on for ages until, at last, he let out a final growl and collapsed to the floor. I had done it - I had defeated the greatest evil Hyrule had ever known in the Golden Land, tainted by his power.
|He was the only blue pig growing up, and that made him weird.|
To be continued...