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Interview: Takashi Tezuka on Bringing Yoshi's New Island to the 3DS

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"We used the original as a base on which to add new elements"

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is often regarded as one of the finest platformers on Super NES, and potentially a stand-out across generations. After Yoshi's hugely popular appearance in its predecessor, it was a natural progression and one that certainly paid off for Nintendo. Now, after spin-offs and appearances in various other games, the popular mascot gets a full sequel on the 3DS with Yoshi's New Island.

Although Arzest has taken on development duties — it's not uncommon for third-party partnerships on Nintendo games — the Kyoto-based company has been supervising and driving the project. Takahashi Tezuka has been Producer, and it says a great deal for his experience and capabilities that previous producing credits include Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, among many others. To kick off our own Month of Yoshi here on Nintendo Life, we had the opportunity to ask Tezuka-san some questions about the upcoming 3DS title to learn more about its features and what we can expect when it arrives in mid-March.

What inspired you to revisit the style of Yoshi’s Island rather than that of Yoshi’s Story?

Tezuka-san: Both titles featured Yoshi, but looking at it purely in terms of console features, Yoshi’s Story – with its 3D handicraft-esque world – was easier to create 3D representations for on the home console. In contrast, the world of Yoshi’s Island – which feels like it’s been hand drawn – seemed perfectly suited to the expressive power of the Nintendo 3DS.

Yoshi’s Island was definitely the simpler of these two games, both in terms of gameplay and construction, and we thought it would be the perfect choice for a new Yoshi action game for this console.

Were any members of the respective teams involved with the original Yoshi’s Island on Super NES? If so, was that experience valuable when developing this new entry in the series?

Tezuka-san: Yes, we had some members who had worked on the original Yoshi’s Island.

We wanted to follow in the footsteps of the previous title while at the same time creating a new Yoshi’s Island for the current generation, so it was important that we fully understood the meaning and purpose of the enemies and features that appeared previously.

We used the original as a base on which to add new elements, so having some of the original members on board for their knowledge and experience was invaluable.

We wanted to follow in the footsteps of the previous title while at the same time creating a new Yoshi’s Island for the current generation.

Are the world and its stages entirely new designs, or are aspects of Yoshi’s Island on Super NES revisited?

Tezuka-san: For Yoshi’s New Island, we wanted to make a new world that still kept the warm and friendly vibe of the original Yoshi’s Island on the Super NES. We did this by emphasising the hand-drawn feel of the world such as the parts that look like oil paintings, water colours, or crayon drawings.

The art style of the Super NES title was memorable for its hand-drawn aesthetic; was it a technical challenge to reproduce that with 3D on the 3DS?

Tezuka-san: It took a lot of back and forth before we were able to create a world whose hand-drawn style was distinct from the previous title. Implementing the 3D effect also required a lot of time fine-tuning how the game looked, to make sure there were no conflicts between sections that should be appearing in the background and those that should be appearing in the foreground. We couldn’t have done it without the hard work of the development team! It all looks and feels completely natural so I think it’s quite difficult for people playing to really appreciate the work that went into it. It’s a real pleasure for us that you singled this out to ask us about!

Can you tell us more about new features and abilities? We’ve seen footage of Yoshi transforming into various vehicles or throwing a super-sized egg, how important are these abilities, and do they appear frequently throughout the game?

Tezuka-san: The super-sized eggs – Mega Eggdozers – are one of the brand new elements of the game that we hope will appeal to players. Sometimes you’ll need one to complete a course, and they pop up all over the place.

There are also Metal Eggdozers that let you stay under water, or the Super Yoshi transformation you can use to run really fast – the game is full of these sorts of new elements. My favourite though has to be the Flutter Wings, which you get depending on your skill level. It’s up to players whether they want to use them or not, but I hope you all try them out and see what it’s like controlling Yoshi in a different way than usual.

Beyond the main control inputs, will tilt and touch controls play a role throughout the adventure?

Tezuka-san: We haven’t used touch controls for Yoshi’s New Island, but players will control Yoshi’s transformations by tilting the Nintendo 3DS, giving the experience just the right amount of tension and making for a great bit of fun.

Then there are the Binoculars that Yoshi can grab which let players look around an area and see sections they wouldn’t normally be able to, just by tilting the Nintendo 3DS! The tilt element really comes in handy when exploring.

Yoshi’s Island was well known for its challenge not so much in terms of completing the game, but in gathering all collectibles in each stage. Is the approach of Yoshi’s New Island similar?

Tezuka-san: We’ve made the courses themselves a little easier to complete compared to the previous title, but we’ve made the collectables – the smiley flowers, red coins and stars – just hard enough to get to make for a nice challenge for more experienced players.

I hope you have fun searching for them all!

Do you anticipate that this will be a lengthy adventure for players, and will there be incentive to go back and pick up all collectibles?

Tezuka-san: It definitely takes a fair bit of time to pick up all the collectables!

The red coins and smiley flowers are hidden in all sorts of places. For instance, you might find a secret location you wouldn’t normally be able to get to by smashing down a wall with a Metal Eggdozer, or pick up red coins while Yoshi has turned into a Submarine, Hot-Air Balloon or one of the many other transformations. It won’t be easy to get everything, but I think at the same time the joy of searching for the collectables and the fun of improving one’s skills will really keep players motivated.

We'd like to thank Takashi Tezuka for his time; Yoshi's New Island arrives on 3DS in Europe and North America on 14th March.

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User Comments (76)



Tobias95 said:

They made it easier? Why not keep them hard and maybe make some of the collectibles ridicolus hard?



Ernest_The_Crab said:

They said "slightly" easier not "A LOT" easier. However, they mentioned making the collectibles harder to find.



babyguess said:

Not visually appealing to me. I am hoping the game play will more than make up for it.



MuchoMochi said:

I'm still really confused on the story. Is it basically a remake? I watched the GameXplain video of the intro cutscene and it was hardly any different. Kamek is trying to steal the babies again and the stork keeps screwing up on taking them to the right home.



NintyMan said:

This should be a simple, relaxing game to unwind with after an intense playthrough of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.



unrandomsam said:

They should have made this reasonably difficult.

There is loads that are easy. Kirby will be even easier than that.

Donkey Kong Country is a port (So not interested in that as I have already played it).

Collectables are an excuse for lack of difficulty and not enough levels. (To find them requires playing the game at snails pace.)



DreamOn said:

I really think they took Yoshi's Island and geared it even more towards younger players than the original. The simpler looking -now confirmed- platforming, and Yoshi's larger feet -which I assume were made larger so that younger players could easily see when/where they are standing on a particular platform- all suggest this to me.

That it's been more geared for young players doesn't make it a bad game. But many will likely want to take it into consideration if they aren't kids and hoped for an upped or equal challenge of the original game on snes.



MuchoMochi said:

@brewsky I really wish that wasn't the new Nintendo thing. Just think of a clever sub title for the game. Other than that the gameplay has really gotten great looking with every update from Nintendo.



Dark-Luigi said:

Not really hyped. If a game is too eat it's boring in my opinion.

And watching a few videos, did they seriously just reuse the overworld/main theme and remix it just so it chould fit in the levels instead of totally new music? Wow, how lazy can you be...



ThomasBW84 said:

@MuchoMochi It's a new game, with Nintendo's other press stuff saying things like "a new island" and "all-new stages". I wouldn't let the plot determine whether it's new content, look at the Super Mario Bros. series!



kevkeepsplaying said:

@MuchoMochi It's a continuation. The babies were delivered to the wrong parents at the end of Yoshi's Island, and as the stork goes to find their real parents, Luigi gets stolen by Kamek again, and Mario falls onto a new floating island shaped like an egg, or something.



LittleIrves said:

Are people really concerned about the story in a Yoshi game? That's kind of like saying, "Man, this cake is delicious, but I wish I knew its motivation for being fluffy and light."

I'm reasonably excited for this. And doesn't his mention of Yoshi's Story-style graphics on the console reconfirm Yarn Yoshi? I know some were concerned that it had been canceled since we hadn't heard much in over a year. That's the Yoshi game I'm more psyched for. Good-Feel > Arzest. Are we on the cusp of The Year of Yoshi...?



unrandomsam said:

@LittleIrves No chance if Arzest consists of mostly ex team andromeda they have made loads of better stuff. The only really good one Good Feel have made is the Warioland game. But it is no Panzer Dragoon Saga.



DreamOn said:

@LittleIrves That's funny. I agree as well but I think some will admit that today's kids are eating a much different cake than the cake and kool-aid eaten in the SNES days.



AdanVC said:

I was getting really excited while reading the interview, then I read this part: "We’ve made the courses themselves a little easier to complete compared to the previous title" And my excitement decreased almost 30% . It is going to feel so awkward to play this game after DKC: Tropical Freeze wich is one of the most challenging platformers in years... Oh well : /.
I'm still excited for this game, I'm confident that with Tezuka as a producer, this game would deliver and it would be as fun as the original.



Megumi said:

As long as 100% everything is a challenge, then I'm fine. Wasn't expecting difficulty out of the main game, anyways.



Assassinated said:

If I remember correctly, the last game was often knocked by reviewers for being too challenging. It sounds like they listened. Probably means there will be fewer cheap deaths with tricky platforming and enemies that knock you back.



Kirk said:

The ball was dropped on this game imo.

It looks like a fan made tribute game rather than the top quality first party title I think a sequel to one of the greatest platform games ever deserved.

There's not one single element of this game I've seen that matches the original let alone surpasses it, imo, which is truly disappointing when you consider the original game was made nearly 20 years ago.

Very sad.



unrandomsam said:

@Kirk Until you have played the whole thing there is no way to make that sort of statement. The level design is the most important thing and there is no way to know what that is like yet. (That it is easier is bad. There is lots of easy and even easier games on the 3DS).



SparkOfSpirit said:

Yoshi's Island on the SNES is an incredibly easy game, folks. The ONLY challenge came from 100% which looks to be the same here.

I would be more concerned with the developer's track record of boring level design and poor music before worrying about difficulty.



unrandomsam said:

Nintendo probably set it in stone these days that the first 50% of any game has to be a waste of time and it has to be really short in order to make people have to buy more games.



Kirk said:


It's strange you say that...because I've made it.

If I'm wrong then GREAT but I'll believe that when [IF] I see it.

So far I'm not sold in the slightest.



Doma said:

@TwoTheNines "That it's been more geared for young players doesn't make it a bad game."

Sure it does. I played/enjoyed the original as a kid, which was no result of the developer trying to excessively appeal to a young audience. By doing so now however, they've completely lost my interest. The graphics, slow gameplay, and lullaby music are huge turn-offs. What good reason do they have for specifically designing this for 5 year olds?... it's just uncalled for.

@LittleIrves "Are people really concerned about the story in a Yoshi game?

Why not? This isn't the Mario Bros. series y'know, it hasn't built up some untold rule that confines them to rehashing the same concept repeatedly. You afraid to experience something new, or what?



unrandomsam said:

What is the framerate and is it based on the engine used for NSMB2 that is what I would have asked.

(Just because of the destruction thing that seems similar to Mega Mario).

Why is the level design good what did you do to make sure that was the case ?

If they refused to answer any I would state which.

The questions seem like the ones a marketing team would want asked.

Lacking totally in substance.



Heiki said:

Maybe it's just me, but I think this is looking good. I don't trust reviews too much, so I may be getting it regardless. I mean... Sonic Lost World got bad reviews and I truly enjoyed it.

I never played a Yoshi game, but loved the Yoshi stage on Sonic Lost World.



Gerbwmu said:

@ThomasBW84 I like these kinds of interviews. It is why I enjoy coming to It seems to have some articles and editorial pieces that you don't get at some of the other sites. Thank you for the insight and entertainment.

@Doma - Unless you are a 5 year old......then it is totally called for!

I find that difficulty is too subjective. When I think of older games I tend to look at them through my 10 year old eyes but when I revisit them I realize they are much easier then what I remember them being. A lot of this has to do with me being an experienced gamer......I'm just better at games now through repetition.

I do think newer game levels advance through difficulty at a slower pace then some of the older ones.....but the new games are also much larger/longer so maybe it makes sense to slow down the pace some?

Game looks fun but I'm kind of burnt out on platformers at the moment so I will wait for something else to come along and grab my wallet



khululy said:

Seeying anything yoshi island always reminds me of that horrible day i popped in my SNES cart only to find my save game being bugged and and reset.
I was in the last world with a 100% completion so far (including all bonus levels at that point)

I don't really see a problem with the art style do people have some unrealistic nostalgia goggles on? I bet it al looks a lot better in motion on the 3DS not a day one purchase but I'll keep an eye out for it.



ThreadShadow said:

With a 3D Yoshi it still comes off more like Yoshi's Story rather then Yoshi's Island for me. I wasn't very happy with the aesthetic of Yoshi's Story. I'll certainly be playing this though. Sometime. I really miss high quality 2D sprites.



Williaint said:

@Frapp Well, it could be worse — it could be 'Ol' Yoshi's island: An 8 bit remake'. They could make newer subtitles or something, even something as simple as "Super Mario World (errr....4?):Yoshi's Island 3: The Further Adventures of Yoshi's Island ".

@ThreadShadow I agree it does, and I would have preferred the vectorized sprites from the original game. I hope they put the original on the VC, before — or at — the launch. I've such fond memories of the SNES game...



Bolt_Strike said:

I'm actually somewhat interested in this game. I tend to be turned off by how a lot of Nintendo games tend to rehash the same things over and over, but with the new powerups in this game, there's just enough to make things feel new. As for making the main game less challenging, I really don't care either way, but I think if you're trying to appeal to kids, you definitely do not want the game to be as difficult as Yoshi's Island DS was in the main gameplay (for 100% though, yes they should keep that difficult).

I think the original Yoshi's Island was the perfect difficulty TBH, the main game was at an appropriate difficulty, many of the secrets were very well hidden and some took me ages to find, and the Secret/Extra levels offered a good challenge for people who wanted more.



CapeSmash said:

Is this a remake? I can't tell. Tezuka is the worst game developer ever imo. He was amazing back in the day, now he just makes rehashes like the NSMB series. I despise this man, I really do.



Yosher said:

Definitely gonna pick this up and gonna play it on my shiny new Yoshi 3DS XL (when I get it next week). So looking forward to it!

And it's always nice to get a little behind-the-scenes moment with these kinds of interviews. I hope they still include the harder hidden levels like they did for the previous two Island games, too.



Goginho said:

@sinalefa Exactly with me as well. If I enjoy the game, then that's what matters the most. And I love it when games have that something something to them, that extra little bit ..that charm you mentioned. I can think of when I first played through 3D Land, there were many moments I cracked a smile



antipop621 said:

I don't mind the game being on the easier side. Yoshi's Island DS was too brutal for me. I don't think I even finished it.



JCnator said:

I remember on how hard the difficulty curve turned out in Yoshi's Island DS when I reached on World 4 and 5. While I didn't lose more than 10 lives back then on these Worlds alone, I did hear quite a lot of players struggling more often than I did on that part. Artoon thought it was good idea to bump the difficulty much higher on a game designed to cater the kids since they're obviously the last two Worlds.

Aside from that, I'm still excited on Yoshi's New Island will play out when I get my hands on it. The original Yoshi's Island on the SNES was so amazing it defined my childhood, and the 3DS instalment looks like it'll be the sequel it finally deserved.



RantingThespian said:

I consider Yoshi's Story as the real sequel to Yoshi's Island, and Yoshi's Island DS as the sequel to that.



JaxonH said:


Yeah, DKC Returns 3D is a port. And I had been hoping to get a new one on the 3DS when they announced it. Fortunately, I still got my new one with Tropical Freeze (and it's so good), and on home consoles too, where I prefer it. But, I'd rather they port Returns to 3DS than not bring one at all, know what I mean? I liked the game so much on the Wii I bought the 3DS version too, and played it all over again. I am hoping though, that they will do a separate series on handhelds, perhaps DK Land. That would be awesome.



JaxonH said:

I'm SO getting this game. I think it looks really fun. Don't care what Gamespot says, don't care what anyone else says either. I like what I like, and this game looks like something I'd have a ton of fun with. Already pre ordered and can't wait!

I LIKE playing games that are colorful, cheerful, and take me back to the innocence of my childhood. I'm a grown man, and I am not insecure as to have an issue with a potentially fun game simply because there's a baby Mario in it. Or soft aesthetic. Age has nothing to do with it. Once a person fully matures, they come to terms with the realization that only one thing matters in a game- is it fun or no? If the answer is yes, well, you already know what time it is. Half the civilized world of adults plays colorful smartphone games with content one could just as easily argue is "targeted to kids". The only people I've noticed that would actually pass on a fun game because it's not "mature enough", are those who are insecure in their own maturity. I don't care if a game has butterflies and puppies- if that sucker's fun, I'll be playing it. I'm a gamer, and that's what gamers do. Seek out fun games wherever they are, in whatever shape or form they come in.



sinalefa said:


"Once a person fully matures, they come to terms with the realization that only one thing matters in a game- is it fun or no?"

I have heard that is actually Tezuka's motto when making games. If it is fun, put it in.



Gashole said:

"We used the original as a base on which to add new elements"
Yeah, and it shows. It only looks as good as the SNES original.
And the 3DS XL version looks equally as bad.
And to all the cry-baby haters out there, grow up.



DreamOn said:

I've said it before, this game is to Yoshi's Island (snes) what Super Princess Peach is to NSMB. Super Princess Peach slowed down the gameplay and made the platforms big and simple to move between. It had cool concepts but for gamer adults none of it was ever very tricky to execute and therefore just kinda boring.
I am glad SPP is in my collection but its not not a great great game to play due to gameplay aimed at young players.



unrandomsam said:

@TwoTheNines Yeah but NSMB is watered down compared to say Super Mario Bros 3 which was watered down compared to the first one in certain pretty important ways (If you get hit you go small was a good mechanic along with not being able to replay levels and not having items).

The only one that wasn't watered down was Super Mario Bros 2 (J).

Depends how much it is watered down I don't think it will be at Kirby levels (Which was good but far too recently for me to want to play another) or Super Princess Peach.



divinelite said:

this will be great
my friend is a platformer maniac and this is a great title to recommend then



DreamOn said:

@unrandomsam You put a "but" in there but I think you just expanded on exactly what I was saying. Also there are degrees to these types of things. Not all watering-down is equal. Super Princess Peach really narrowed in on a specific age group compared to NSMB. I just see the same thing going on with YNL. It's more particular in its appeal to a certain group than it has been in the past or even compared to any 2D Mario game. So watered-down? Sure. But extra extra watered-down, now that is what I'm seeing so far in these videos especially comparing it to the original.

TLDR; They deliberately shifted the core gameplay/platforming away from a general audience or mixed audience of newcomers and experienced players, to appeal specifically to newcomers to 2D platforming.



Dpishere said:

The more I see of this game the more I anticipate it. Just waiting for a review now!



Ralizah said:

Wasn't really a fan of the one on the DS. I'll wait for reviews. The aesthetic is gorgeous, however.



Barbiegurl777 said:

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island?? for SNES?? I remember this game extrememly well back then on the SNES it drove me to the point of tears out frustation when I was a kid being stuck on certain levels it wasn't until the DS version came out I decided to give the series another try. I loved the DS version the SNES version was horrible in gameplay though wish it had easy, medium, hard levels mode...

Happy Gaming! (^_^)



Gorlokk said:

The concept art and backgrounds look awesome, but man, Yoshi's model does not look good at all to me. The music also seems very boring.



shonenjump86 said:

I just can't seem to get into this game. I'll end up passing this game up, but I will be waiting for that Kirby game.



Prof_Clayton said:

I am not excited for this at all, even loving the others in the series. They managed to even make the graphics look worse.



TwilightAngel said:

okay i dont know to buy it or wait for the new kirby game and if its easy then yeah im passing,to me this looks like just a remake to the original sort of not a sequel.



Kolzig said:

Loved the SNES original and the DS Yoshi game.

Will be fun to see how will this new one turn out to be like.

But I do have to say that those hand drawn style graphics on 1080p on Wii U would've looked greater than the "tiny" 3DS & XL screen. This should've maybe been better as a Wii U project.



Geonjaha said:

I played the original game on the GBA all those years ago, and it remains one of my favourite games of all time. This however, doesn't interest me in the slightest at the moment. The art style somehow looks worse than the 20 year old original, the gameplay has been made easier, and all the new 'features' look pretty dull. Even the music in the trailer just sounded like a more depressing, parodied version of the original, which to be fair seems quite fitting given Nintendo's current stance on making sequels. To be honest right now I wouldn't be surprised if this version ended up being worse than the DS version (at least that one tried new things that weren't just big eggs).



suburban_sensei said:

I love the original Yoshi's Island, and love mostly anything Nintendo. For some reason though, this game just doesn't seem as appealing. Maybe it's just been the talk of it being easier, and from the gameplay footage it does look a little more boring...I just hope after its released that my doubts are proven wrong, because I want to feel nostalgic about the original. Thats WHY I am a Nintendo fan, really.



Lalivero said:

Pretty amusing when all you hear 24/7 is people blabbering away about how graphics don't matter, yet a lot of people are stomping all over this game because they don't consider it to be the prettiest ever.

The game looks pretty charming(as Yoshi tends to be) to me so I will be buying it anyways.

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