Yoshi’s Cookie is a Yoshi game — that didn’t start life as a Yoshi game, which is presumably part of the reason why it’s not available on Switch online. But is it still worth playing?
In Retro Game Of The Week I pull a game from my collection and write about why it’s important or interesting. Or in some cases, badly dated and rubbish.
It’s basically impossible to overstate the seismic change that Tetris made in the puzzle game space back in the day. Suddenly the race was on for other companies to make their own race-the-clock falling-item puzzle titles, whether you’re talking Sega’s Columns, Hudson’s weird Bomberman: Panic Bomber or many, many others.
Yoshi’s Cookie is another entry in that genre, albeit one with a little bit more of a direct DNA connection to Tetris… sort of.
Yoshi was a pretty hot property on the back of Super Mario World, and Nintendo wasted little time putting Mario’s dinosaur chum onto all sorts of merchandise and more than a few games. I’ve passed… so far… on buying Yoshi’s Safari for the Super Scope, for example, but it’s notable that the sequel to Super Mario World in a linear sense was Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, not Super Mario World 2: Mario Rescues The Princess Again Seriously She Needs To Look Into Some Kind Of Toad-Based Secret Service Or Something.
However, before we get to the world’s most annoying baby screaming simulator that fine example of 16-bit platforming, there’s Yoshi’s Cookie, which started life as a game called either Hermetica/Inaro, developed by Home Data/Magical Company, possibly as an arcade title. It apparently didn’t do so well.
That… does not look all that thrilling, to be honest.
Where the Tetris link comes in is via Bullet Proof Software, who picked up the rights, took them to Nintendo and thus the Yoshi link — by way of giving it a Yoshi coat of paint — was established. Apparently the puzzle in the game’s puzzle mode were designed by Alexey Pajitnov, if you needed even more Tetris DNA in the mix.
All of which is interesting corporate history, but it probably doesn’t tell you much about what Yoshi’s Cookie is, or why Yoshi is suddenly so interested in baking beyond a small link to some of the stuff he eats in Super Mario World.
The answer is… I have no answer.
Neither does Nintendo; while the copy I have is the Japanese Yoshi No Cookie variant, even the English language manual simply states this as the game’s plot:
“Do you love Cookies? Then try Yoshi’s Cookie!”
Maybe the Japanese manual goes into more depth about why Yoshi and Mario must race the clock to match up sets of Cookie tiles?
Roughly translated, the first line of the Japanese manual reads
“Yoshi’s Cookie” is a cute action puzzle game that anyone can enjoy.
Translation errors are mine, but that’s your lot unless someone wants to correct me.
So, yeah, not telling me much about the why there either.
It’s nearly Valentine’s Day as I write this. Can I claim that the existence of heart cookies in this game means that it’s a Valentine’s Day game? Sure, why not? It’s not like the manual is going to contradict me!
Still, you don’t really need a big narrative hook for most good puzzle games, and Yoshi’s Cookie is at least decent.
The basic idea is to do your usual pattern matching, with cookies in primary shapes coming from the top and side of the game board. Fill the board and you fail, clear the board and you move onto another level.
Tip: Press Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right Start Select and B, and Cookie Monster… does not appear at all. But I bet he would if he could.
There’s also your typical two player competitive mode and a set number of moves style puzzle variant in play too. They’re fun for what they are, but this is a SNES/SFC game that I don’t have a particular nostalgic attachment to, so I mostly tend to end up playing the single player variant when I pull it down off my games shelf.
My primary complaint against Yoshi’s Cookie is that it does start a little slow, though you can mitigate against that with selectable speed and difficulty levels.
The early levels are easy. Maybe a bit too easy.
Once you’ve got the game mechanics down pat — and they are pretty simple — that’s what I tend to do every time, simply because the earlier levels are quite simple and slow.
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How to play Yoshi’s Cookie (SNES/SFC) today
That’s my copy above, and it’s in very nice condition, scored from a Book-Off for (as the price tag reveals, 950 yen, or about $10 AUD.
It’s a Yoshi game, so it’s Nintendo’s IP and easily available on Switch online having endlessly been re-released over the years, right?
Not exactly. Yoshi’s Cookie did see Gamecube release in Japan, and it was available via Wii Virtual Console, though only the NES version, not the SNES version I’ve got here.
Beyond that… not so much. While Nintendo haven’t said a single thing about Yoshi’s Cookie, it’s almost certainly an odd rights situation between itself, Bulletproof Software and the original developers at play.
What that means if you want to legitimately play it is that you’d have to track down a cart copy and a SNES yourself (or NES/Gameboy, while there are some obvious visual differences, this isn’t a gameplay concept that’s hard to scale).
Here it depends if you’re fussy about language and location. English language copies seem to go for between $40-$150 (depending on cart only or boxed), but Japanese copies are much more affordable, typically selling for around $10-$20. It’s easily worth that if you don’t have it.