Ever tried to eat spaghetti with fork? Or soup with chopsticks? If you haven't, we'd heartily recommend it, although obviously not at any important social occasion such as meeting your girlfriend's parents for the first time. You see, while there are challenges to overcome and the end result is messy, there's also something joyfully refreshing about trying to carry out a familiar activity with different tools.
And this is exactly the mysterious feeling you'll experience playing Yoshi Touch & Go - a cute platform game that serves up a lot of familiar options - move from left to right, jump over holes, collect coins, kill monsters, avoid traps - but provides you with some strange ways of overcoming them.
In terms of structure, the game is split into two parts. The first sees Baby Mario falling from the top screen through a series of obstacles and collectible items while the second takes place at ground-level as you steer Yoshi (a cute dragon ridden by Mario) across a perilous landscape to reach his goal. In both cases, rather than control your character directly via the joypad or buttons, all interaction is handled via the stylus on the lower touchscreen, which you use to manipulate the environment by doing things like drawing clouds and bubbles.
In the falling Baby Mario stage for instance you could chose to draw cloud barriers to guide the little fella away from enemies and form cloud tubes either side of coins to ensure he collects them. Or you could try to collect the coins and enemies yourself in bubbles and hurl them in his path. Or you could try a combination of both. There's plenty of room for experimentation and with multiple threats and opportunities, you'll need to be flexible in your approach. It doesn't take much for your well laid plans to collapse as a stray bubble or missed enemy knocks your falling babe off course and causes him to burst one of his three balloon lifelines.
When you do manage to negotiate him safely to the waiting Yoshi, the direction of action changes from vertical to horizontal as you direct the dragon more directly across the bottom touchscreen. Although the levels are no less hazardous - you now have gaping holes to contend with and only one life to protect - your control options are increased as in addition to cloud-drawing and bubble-capture you can also fire eggs at enemies, jump over small gaps and do a 'flutter kick' which allows Yoshi to stay airborne for longer. Naturally this opens up an even wider variety of tactics - do you draw clouds over enemies, capture them in bubbles, jump on them or take them out with an egg? The increasingly frantic nature of the game ensures you never have too much time to consider your options however.
To add further complications, there are a number of different ways to play the game. The score attack is about getting the most number of coins, whereas marathon challenges you to travel as far as you can through a level. But whatever you chose, you can be sure it will provide one of the most refreshing gaming challenges you've had for sometime. Chances are you might even get a little addicted. Which oddly enough is the game's only real problem - there's just not enough of it.
While there are several unique levels to face, they are limited in number and are cycled apparently randomly as you play. Though liberating, this leaves the game feeling almost too open-ended and lends support to the rumour it was initially created as a demonstration of the DS's touchscreen capabilities. A single-cartridge multiplayer option adds a little extra longevity, with a straight two-man race spiced up by the opportunity to add obstacles to the opponent's screen when you clear your own. Yet even this has limitations and if you don't have a DS-owning chum then beating your own scores can only keep you occupied for so long.
And it's this lack of long-term appeal that may prevent the game from becoming a classic, although it can't hold it back from highly recommended status. While the cartoony presentation is unlikely to blow you away, the sheer novelty will keep you busy demonstrating to friends (especially less games-friendly ones) long after your own addiction is sated, ensuring Yoshi Touch & Go maintains a lofty status in your collection.Yoshi Touch & Go is on sale now.