Yoshi’s Cookie – NES
Release Date (NA): April 1993
Rating: 4 out of 10
Yoshi’s Cookie was one of the final games still released for the original NES, and it’s obvious that the developers were busy focusing on the coming-of-age 16-bit era. Somewhere between the concept of Dr. Mario and Tetris, Yoshi’s Cookie requires the player to align cookies of the same shape either vertically or horizontally. The idea is to clear the screen of all cookies before any of the falling cookies can attach. What makes this game unique is that pieces are “falling” from both the top and the right side of the screen…simultaneously. If the screen gets filled up from either direction, game over. When matching up cookies for elimination, one must match a number of cookies equal to the length of one of the axes. For example, if the stack is 6 cookies high but only 3 cookies wide, the player needs to match up 6 cookies vertically or 3 cookies horizontally. Any given row or column of cookies can be cycled in either direction via the use of an onscreen cursor.
The control system in Yoshi’s Cookie is far from intuitive. One of the biggest issues is that when cycling cookies, the cursor stays in the same physical location instead of on the piece it began on. This makes navigating around the stack more than a little confusing. It’s easy to continue cycling pieces as your eyes focus on the cursor rather than the cookie and it’s not always immediately apparent where the piece you began moving has ended up. Even with the speed set on “low,” these cookies are moving in at an alarming rate making for quite a challenge right from the beginning. In the time spent correctly arranging cookies, 1 or 2 layers can quickly accumulate leading to abrupt changes in strategy. Yoshi’s Cookie doesn’t spend much time letting the player acclimate and it’s tougher than it seems to simply pick it up for the first time and progress more than a couple of rounds.
The graphics themselves are another frustrating quality of this title. As much as the inadequate positioning of the cursor can lead to serious problems, the cookies play a negative role as well. With shades of beige and brown replete, visual recognition is not always as reflexive as it should be and far too much time is wasted during the few extra milliseconds one’s brain needs to process the different cookies.
Rapidly incoming pieces (from 2 directions!), an awkward control scheme, and general confusion combine to make Yoshi’s Cookie one tough cookie. This wouldn’t be so bad if the game spent some time preparing the player for absolute madness, but instead we’re thrown right into the deep end. I like the idea; this method of elimination puzzle is fun and addictive at times, but it’s just too damn hard in areas where it need not be. The good news is that there does seem to be an infinite amount of “continues.” If and when the player fails a round, they’re welcome to start again playing the exact same stage. There’s some definite potential here; I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the SNES port.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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