Yoshi's New Island has some things old, some things new, some gigantic bats

Economists explain brand names as a substitute for specific knowledge. Whether you're in Memphis, Montreal or Moscow, you know what to expect when you walk into McDonald's.

Yoshi's New Island, the upcoming Nintendo 3DS installment of the franchise that began on the Super NES with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, adapts that concept for the video game sphere. It has all the ingredients that fans of the series would expect — Yoshi, a colicky Baby Mario, bottomless death pits, giant spiky balls running in circular perpetual motion — as well as a few new tweaks to usher it into the handheld 3D era.

We took the game through its paces in a serpentine level that, in typical early game fashion, taught us how to do a ground pound right at the moment we needed it. We went butt-first through the floor, picked up a key, navigated our way throughout he maze and unlocked a previously impenetrable door. Nintendo makes good use of the 3D effects, particularly when baby Mario separates from Yoshi and appears to hover above the screen.

On the other side of the door was a boss battle with a monstrous bat and what might have been its children, who flew around to protect her (or him). The object of the boss battle pulled together nearly every mechanic that came in handy outside of the battle. As the little bats swarmed, you could eat them, and then, um, digest them as eggs. Tapping the right bumper brings up a revolving reticle that, when aimed at Big Momma, knocks her down. Three gameplay loops later, and you've won.

Nothing about Yoshi's New Island struck us as groundbreaking. It looked and played as we expected, and sometimes, like McDonald's, that hits the spot.

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