Nintendo showcases some more tilting action on the GBA in Yoshi's Topsy-Turvy, and we have the exclusive review right this way.
gim-mick (gmk) n. : An innovative stratagem or scheme employed especially to promote a project: an advertising gimmick.
Now that we've got that out of the way, platformer fans will be relieved to hear that Yoshi Topsy-Turvy is not a gimmick. Upon starting this one up it was rather exciting to see how developer Artoon could take the idea for a "Tilting Platformer" and turn it into a solid game. After having spent some time with the title, it seems fair enough to say that while Yoshi Topsy-Turvy is not completely disappointing, it does lack the more solid elements necessary to make it a replacement to the traditional platformers most gamers are used to.
The game opens with a story that is quite periphery, but sets the tone and the flavor for the levels and setting in which Yoshi is going to have to get his spin on. Basically, to stop Bowser from doing what he does best and making a mess out of Yoshi's Island, a spirit named Hongo sucks up the entire island and turns it into a pop-up book. It is Yoshi's mission to go through each of the pages of the book and free his friends and help the other spirits lock up Bowser, returning the island to its once peaceful and serene state. Ah, Yoshi; altruistic to the end.
The level objectives are familiar enough: the game is broken up into several different worlds, each of which has a series of levels to be completed in order to continue on. All of the levels have their own unique combination of objectives, such as collecting a certain amount of coins, finishing it in a limited time span or making it through without killing any enemies at all. Similar to Yoshi's Island on Super Nintendo, the levels in Topsy-Turvy have two tiers of completing a level. There is the "bare bones" approach which allows you at least to continue on and there is the gold medal method in which the truly obsessed can play a level until they satisfy every single objective.
The control scheme does exist in a league of its own: using both the standard GBA buttons and controls as well as a tilt sensor built into the game pak, the idea behind Yoshi Topsy-Turvy is that the player has the ability to rotate the world. Think of the right and left sides of the GBA as having a gravitational pull; tilt the GBA to the right and a giant boulder rolls accordingly, tilt the GBA to the left and a pendulum begins to swing. Keep your GBA rocking, and eventually you'll have the pendulum going in complete circles. And, you can smash stuff. Smashing is good.
Some serious props has to be given to they developers, as they didn't skimp at all in regards to implementing the tilt sensor to it's full extent; practically the entire game takes advantage of the ability to tilt the Game Boy Advance to and fro. All aspects of the level design take full advantage of what the tilt sensor has to offer; there really is no rest for the lazy. Additionally, the art direction of Topsy-Turvy is interesting enough. Since the game is supposed to be set in the world of a story book, the levels have a cardboard cut-out and illustrated look to them, and given the limited screen size and technical limitations of the GBA Artoon did a great job at building an entertaining graphical world.
Here's the thing about Yoshi Topsy-Turvy: it feels incredibly hard to master, and at times the levels just come across as a little bit too overwhelming. In all honesty, the tilt control isn't as responsive as it feels like it should be for certain parts of the game, and players will often find themselves growing increasingly frustrated with the completion of certain areas (Note: The reviewer would like to apologize to any neighbors subjected to the occasional bouts of swearing and yelling emanating from his apartment.). The concept in its most base form is simple, but the actual execution takes a great deal of getting used to.
Yoshi Topsy-Turvy is a cool idea and from a technical standpoint things work well enough early on. For the first portion of the game there are some really enjoyable and charming moments. However, the deeper you get into this title things start getting incredibly frustrating, as the tilt sensor really lacks the precision necessary to make it the core element of the game. Maybe once the technology is perfected could a tilting platformer like Yoshi Topsy-Turvy be deserving of better recognition, but as things stand right now it remains a game that isn't without its moments, yet in the end is hindered by some game play elements that just aren't completely up to snuff.
What's Hot: Solid gameplay and a lot of fun in a colorful world.
What's Not: Could get very frustrating, especially towards the later levels.