Yoshi's Story

(Nintendo) N64

Although Nintendo appears to have nodded off in the past few months, the release of the new platformer, , should finally give N64 owners something to smile about.

The plot is truly bizarre. It seems that the evil Baby Bowser has stolen "the Super Happy Tree" and a bunch of dinosaurs called Yoshis have to rescue it.

The game takes the form of a child's picture book with six "chapters", including jungle, underwater and cavern settings. Each chapter has four routes to choose from, making 24 levels in all. Also, instead of merely making your way from A to B, you have to eat 30 pieces of fruit to move on to the next stage.

But things aren't quite that simple. Different types of fruit make Yoshis "happier", and so while you can sail through the levels, gobbling up every fruit available - that way you'll see the whole game in a matter of hours - you will only score a measly number of points. And points are what is all about.

There are no difficulty levels. Instead it's up to the player to limit themselves to the high-scoring fruit, thus making the game substantially harder. This also encourages exploration, as there are a host of secrets and clever tricks to discover.

The graphics are gorgeous. They might only be in 2D, but the textures are unsurpassed, duplicating a host of materials from a child's toy cupboard, including cardboard cut-outs and embroidered tapestry, as well as favourites from the Mario mythology, such as shy-guys and chain-chomps.

might not be the biggest game in the world, but dig deep and you'll be rewarded.

On release, pounds 49.99