Yoshi’s Island Level Design Analysis “1-1: Make Eggs, Throw Eggs”


1-1 Make Eggs, Throw Eggs is the first true level of Yoshi’s Island. Prior, the player goes through a clear tutorial level that functions a bit different from the rest of the game and focuses to teach the player the familiar jumping mechanic. To differentiate itself even further, the tutorial stage is even excluded from the world map. I want to focus this analysis on 1-1, because this is the level that manages to teach the player what the game is really about, throwing eggs. This stage communicates the two fundamental mechanics and a lot of ideas surrounding them.

The first thing the level teaches is how to throw eggs in a variety of ways. There’s a signpost that is convientally surrounded by 3 coins to attract the player towards it, having it seem important. This sign tells the player about eating enemies to create eggs, and then simply saying, “Now try throwing the egg, press A!” It encourages the player to explore the throwing mechanic.

Now that the player has some familiarity with throwing eggs, they’ll soon learn about this mechanic’s versatility, since there are plenty of objects to interact with. The player can try to toss an egg at an object and miss by accidentally releasing towards the ground. This is important because it teaches the player that eggs will ricochet off the ground and solid surfaces. Question Mark Clouds, Shyguys, Piranha Plants, signposts, coins, and puzzle elements like the red flower in the optional section are other objects that can interact with the egg.  

When the eggs collide with the Question mark cloud, a variety of behaviors can come about. The clouds can create bridges, drops seeds that grow into a giant plant for vertical ascension, and drop collectable stars. Attacking them with an egg is always driven by mystery. However only the final Question Mark cloud must be hit with an egg for completion of the level. The others are optional. If the player ignores all question mark clouds, and a signpost that explains the Question Mark Clouds, eventually they’ll progress near the end where they will face a road block, forcing them to interact with the Question Mark cloud. The cloud is at a jump’s distance, so the player can perhaps attempt to interact with it that way. They can try to eat it afterwards, however those ideas won’t work. The only thing the player has left to try is throwing an egg at it. Doing so causes the cloud to drop a seed, which then grows into a giant plant with leaves as platforms. Once the player sees this happening, they’ll possibly want to revisit the question mark clouds that they didn’t interact with.


Shyguys in the hidden optional portion are holding coins and flying. Shyguys can be see walking, and hopping. Each one behaving differently. While they can all be hit with eggs, only the flying shuguys can solely be defeated by eggs, unless a platform is high enough for Yoshi to reach the shyguy and eat them.


The piranha plants block a warp pipe, attracting the player to perhaps want to go through. Since the plants block the way, the player can try eating them, but they’ll fail since the piranhas can’t be eaten. The only other option would be to shoot an egg, the correct choice to vanishing the foe.


Piranha Plants also teach the player patience. Since Yoshi must protect Baby Mario, being separated causes Mario to cry. You then have ten seconds to reunite with Baby Mario, otherwise you fail the level. Piranha Plants appear throughout the level and must be defeated by egg tosses. If you take your time and walk through the level, you’ll see the Piranha Plants emerge, giving you enough time to respond. However, if you decide to speed through the level, you are likely to be hit by the Piranha Plant, thus separating you from Baby Mario and dispersing some of your eggs. Then, when Baby Mario is separated from Yoshi, the player will be introduced to the soundtrack of cries, an alarm, and a blinking arrow pointing at Baby Mario. This creates a tense moment, a bit of panic in the player, and showing how important it is to protect the fragile baby. The blinking arrows pointing at Baby Mario, the descending timer, and the scary jarring sound is the game’s way of telling the player, “Get this baby before this timer runs out, or else you lose.” Through this very simple collision with the enemy, players learn how Piranha Plants behave, how they affect you and Baby Mario, how much time you can be apart from the baby, what happens to your inventory of eggs, how you must pick up your eggs that scattered, how you should choose taking your time over speeding through, and even giving you a clue as to how to defeat them. A lot of situations are covered by this single collision. Now, the player can be introduced to Baby Mario’s separation in the tutorial level, and by colliding with a Shyguy at any point. In my playthrough, I learned with the Piranha Plant. I find this enemy to be a likelier introduction to Baby Mario’s separation due to it’s tricky behavior and difficulty.


The versatility of egg throwing allows interaction with a Baby Mario, the ground, walls, warp pipes, Piranha Plants, Shyguys, other enemies, flowers, Question Mark Clouds, coins, collectables, and of course bosses.

With the exception of bosses, all this is taught in the first level. 1-1 concludes with a break in the ground, going from a yellowish grassy and flowery surface, to a jarring green with white stripes, and a pulsing ring made of blue dots and flowers. With only a glance, players may be able to tell that this is the finish line. And for the players that don’t understand this, they can easily find out by simply walking forward into the finish ring.




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