The evil Magikoopa Kamek has hatched a plot to kidnap the newborn Mario brothers, and his toadies are dispatched to rob the stork of this precious cargo. They succeed in capturing only Luigi, however, and the baby Mario falls to the ground. There he is found by Yoshi, who sets out on a great adventure to rescue Luigi and return the brothers to their parents.
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The twist in Yoshi's Island is that you control Yoshi for the majority of the game, not Mario. Baby Mario rides on Yoshi's back as you travel through six worlds (with eight stages per world) on your way to Kamek's castle. When Yoshi is hit by an enemy, Mario falls off and floats in a bubble. You then have a limited amount of time to regain Mario before the toadies capture him and you lose a life. When you grab a Super Star, Mario, whom you will control for a short time, will power-up and become an invincible little tike who can do a whole lot of damage to enemies.
Crafty dinosaur that he is, Yoshi can run and jump and he can use his lashing tongue to grab enemies. He can then spit the enemy out or swallow the enemy to create an egg, which will grant you a coin, two stars or a special red coin. Yoshi can find watermelons that will enable him to spit seeds, fire, and ice at the enemies. Also, by touching a metamorphosis bubble, Yoshi will temporarily become a helicopter, a mole tank, a submarine, a train, or a car.
Throughout the game there are many other items that Yoshi can use to good effect. These include objects that turn all the enemies into clouds or stars, show you where the red coins are in the stage, allow you access to hidden areas, increase the countdown timer, give you clues and much more. There are also mini battles, such as Popping Balloons and a Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest, and bonus challenges, such as Scratch and Match and The Slot Machine.
Yoshi's Island was one of the last games released for the Super NES and utilizes the Super FX2 chip for enhanced graphic effects such as rotation and scaling. Battery backup allows you to save your progress for three different games.