When Yoshi’s Island hit stores in 1995, mainstream 3D gaming was already wowing shoppers with brand-new “graphics”–that ever-important buzz word through the ’90s. Along came this weird Mario spin-off, though, and 2D crayon strokes ruled the day. It was possibly the first video game to set atmosphere and theme with deliberately distinct art direction, rather than merely push the hardware of the time to its limits, a peculiar idea at the time. In many ways, YI was a trailblazer, but only in the past few years has the retro/indie movement seen art direction take precedent and, more importantly, shape the best new-wave game experiences out there right now.
My emotional reactions to Yoshi’s Island were born anew this week when I stumbled upon this live-band take on one of the game’s themes. Even without the game in question, it’s a cute ditty, but the song definitely has some crayon strokes to it.