Yoshi's Cookie

Submitted by b on Wed, 09/19/2018 - 07:27

Yoshi's Cookie is a weird game. Not because it takes place in a bakery of some kind and has you matching rows and columns of cookies in order to eliminate them. Mostly it's weird because a game called "Yoshi's Cookie" barely has Yoshi in it at all.

If you've never played Yoshi's Cookie, it's kind of hard to describe. You have a playfield with some amount of cookies in it, and rows and columns of cookies float in from the top and side of the screen respectively. You can pick an arbitrary cookie that's already landed and scroll the row from side to side or you can scroll the column you're in up and down. The idea is to get either a row or a column that stretches completely from one side to another or from the top to the bottom. do that, and they get removed from the playfield (I guess to get packaged up somewhere?). The further you get, the faster the cookies fly in from the sides of the screen, and the easier it is to make a mistake. Fill up the playfield with your incompetence, er, cookies, and the game ends.

Like a lot of puzzle games at the time, every time you complete 10 rounds you get to take a break and are treated to a barely animated cutscene that has very little to do with the game, and then it's back to sorting cookies.

Until I got a copy a few months ago (thanks, eBay!), I had only played Yoshi's Cookie one time (I guess that's not strictly true, I rented it one time, but that night I had it, I played it several times), and in the video above, I occasionally look almost competent at it. But Yoshi's Cookie is a hard game for me to get my brain around. Conceptually I know that my cookies are three rows high, and I have three heart-shaped cookies in there somewhere, so all I have to do is to get them aligned so that they're all three in the same column, but by the time I've worked out what I have to do and I get them there, another row has landed and completely fouled up my plans.

And that's the thing about puzzle games like this (and puzzle games in general) is that one mistake is all it takes for your house of cards to fall down, especially if you're not skilled enough to fix the problem quickly (or at all). The well designed puzzle games will let skilled players dig themselves out of the hole they've dug themselves into if they're skillful at it, and they'll let the less skillful players develop the skills to do the same after they've put the time and effort into learning the mechanics of what the game expects them to do. There are other puzzle games that require you to play perfectly because one mistake means you can't solve the puzzle and have to start over, and I guess that's good for a certain subset of people, but I'm not one of those, usually. I like being able to make a mistake and recover from it rather than finding out twenty or so moves later that no matter what I did I was going to render the puzzle unsolvable.

Yoshi's Cookie straddles the line somewhere, I think. If I was better at it, I probably could have solved a lot of the puzzles more quickly than I did here, and the mistakes wouldn't have been as costly. It also gets the blood pumping and the adrenaline flowing when the cookies are flowing quickly and the "hey, you're going to fail soon" alarm is going, which is a weird thing to say about what appears to be a tranquil game about sorting cookies.

But they tried something new here, and even though I'm pretty bad at it, I still enjoy playing it. I, in fact, enjoy doing lots of things I'm bad at, but we can talk about those another time.