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One of the greatest side-scrollers of all time is celebrating a major birthday.

Yoshi by the numbers

  • First appearance: 1991’s Super Mario World
  • First solo game: Yoshi for NES and Game Boy in 1991
  • Game appearances: 56
  • Weirdest role: Super Mario Bros. movie in 1993

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island debuted Japan on August 5, 1995, for the Super Nintendo (or Super Famicom, as it was known over there). This makes it 20 years old, and it’s still one of the most polished and beautiful 2D games ever created despite its age.

Although originally marketed as a sequel to the Super Nintendo launch title Super Mario World (even though it’s actually a prequel, since Mario, Luigi, and Bowser all appear in the games as babies), Yoshi’s Island would spawn its own series of side-scrollers. While traditional Mario platformers focused on running and jumping, Yoshi had a ton of distinct abilities. He could swallow enemies and turn them into eggs, which he could then throw as projectiles. Aiming eggs became a major part of the game, especially if you wanted to find every level’s secret areas and hidden items. Yoshi could also flutter in the air if the player held down the jump button.

So, what made Yoshi’s Island so special? If you played it for just a few minutes, you would see. Each of the game’s many levels offered something new and interesting, making it one of the best-paced platformers of all time. It’s also a beautiful game, with character sprites and backgrounds that look like something out of children’s story book. Plus, it has a fantastic soundtrack.

Like we said, Yoshi’s Island would get many sequels itself, including Yoshi’s Story for the Nintendo 64 and Yoshi’s New Island for the Nintendo DS. However, none of the sequels ever resonated with audiences as much as the original. Even the upcoming Yoshi’s Woolly World, which comes out for the Wii U on October 16, received decent-but-not-good reviews.

However, you can still easily play the original classic by downloading it on the Wii U Virtual Console. It holds up as well as any game from its era, and we imagine the industry will still revere it another 20 years from now.

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