I must have been in the mood for some NES gaming, because even though I had just played Ice Climber, the next game I picked up was Yoshi's Cookie. The game came during a wave of puzzle games riding on the huge success of Tetris, although many games, like its predecessor, Yoshi, were pretty forgettable.
Yoshi's Cookie has a different feel than many of the puzzle games that came before it in that pieces don't just drop down from the top. Instead pieces come from the top and the side, and your goal is to clear horizontal and vertical lines by making them all of one type. You press a button to select the row or column, and left or right to shift the pieces. In a way this makes the game feel like a predecessor of the fantastic Puzzle League, aka Tetris Attack, aka Panel de Pon series. In this game, though, the game doesn't have much depth at all. There is a combo system whereby you can have a chain reaction of pieces clearing, but there's rarely any time or opportunity to set up chains like this. Each piece type has a meter and if you fill it up you get a Yoshi head piece, which acts as a wildcard. Filling up the meter also doesn't really play into the actual strategy much, although the wildcards do help.
As with other games of its type, you can choose the round number, speed, and the type of background music. Each round is comprised of 10 stages, but other than the increasing speed, the strategy to playing the game feels exactly the same whether you're on round 1 or round 10. Clearing out the majority of the board doesn't take much effort, but clearing out the last few pieces does get to be a chore as you wait for the piece you need to drop. After beating a round you get a little animated cutscene, and after beating the highest selectable round you're given a code that lets you select rounds higher than 10. This new mode features some different and entertaining visuals, with the added wrinkle that there's a blocking piece that can only be matched with a wildcard. Other than that things still feel the same and I had zero motivation to keep playing.
I think I must be getting near to the end of the Nintendo-skinned puzzle games, of which Dr. Mario is clearly near the top (despite its high difficulty in setting up combo), although for me Tetris Attack will always be at the top of that list. This isn't a bad puzzle game, especially for its time, but playing it nowadays it's not particularly fun or memorable. The two player mode actually looks to more interesting than most, though. In that mode you get to pick which attack you want to send over to your opponent, although its possible that if you mistime it you'll end up attacking yourself. With the core mechanics being so banal, though, I doubt I'll be trying that out anytime soon.
Not too bland Yoshi's Cookie links:
- Entry on Wikipedia
- Review of the Wii Virtual Console release, at NintendoLife.
- Entry at nindb.net