In the early 90s, presumably following the success of Tetris, Nintendo went through a phase of releasing one falling block puzzler after another. Dr. Mario, Yoshi’s Cookie and Wario’s Woods are key examples of this. Many gamers will no doubt have forgotten this puzzler simply known as Yoshi in North America (Mario & Yoshi in Europe) due to its uninspiring and unchallenging gameplay.
It's all quite simple really; the player controls either Mario or Luigi and has to prevent falling blocks — which contain monsters — from piling to the top of the screen. The different columns of enemy characters can be switched so they are positioned under different falling objects. If there is a chain of monsters within two Yoshi egg shells, the egg shells will merge and a Yoshi will form, adding points and eliminating a group of monsters. The larger the chain of monsters between the two eggshells, the more powerful the Yoshi that is created will be.
Using Mario to switch blocks around feels much more cumbersome than a game like Tetris, where you can control the blocks directly. For instance, there are a few occasions were you might want to get a stack of blocks on the left over to the right hand side of the pit, this requires you to make several switching manoeuvres . This process, however, disrupts other stacks in your path which is a little frustrating. The game design doesn’t lend itself to neat orderly block arrangement such as those found in Tetris or Dr. Mario.
There is a two player option so you can challenge a friend, but without the frantic action of Tetris this gets stale quickly. In addition to this there's a mode with a defined end goal of clearing all the blocks on the screen, but it’s pretty easy to beat.
Yoshi is pretty uninspiring on the whole; it’s a competent puzzler but it somehow fails to excite. The action plods along without any real sense of challenge, and within a few minutes you feel like you have seen it all. Falling block puzzlers are all repetitive by nature, but Yoshi fares particularly badly due to its lack of challenge.
If you are a huge fan of falling block puzzlers then you might get a brief kick out of playing Yoshi, but for others we would advise waiting for the cream of the crop such as Tetris Attack or Dr. Mario to join the Virtual Console’s library.