You Are Yoshi's Great Partner! - A Secret Message in Yoshi's Story

Yoshi's Story, released for the Nintendo 64 in 1997 in Japan, recently celebrated its 21st birthday on December 21st, 2018. Despite its reputation as a short and simple game, it contains some secrets that are not very widely documented - such as, for example, the fact that there are special victory screens for collecting 30 identical fruit with all fruit types, not just melons. 

Today, I am going to talk about - and give a comprehensive guide for - a secret that spans the entirety of the game. In each of Yoshi's Story's 24 levels, there is an arrangement of coins that are only visible under the effect of the Heart Fruit, which appears whenever Yoshi eats six melons in a row. The coins appear in the shape of letters, which taken together, spell out a 24-character message: "YOU ARE YOSHI'S GREAT PARTNER". 

Despite spending years looking for an official guide that contained screenshots of the letters, I was unable to find one - and neither was I able to find fan-made videos showcasing the letter locations. Therefore, I decided that I would take it upon myself to make a guide on how to see each of the letters, as well as provide screenshots, as a Patreon article. Let us begin.

1-1: Treasure Hunt

The letter in the first level of the game is very hard to miss. As you will see, the majority of the letters are located directly after the end of the stage's minigame (if it has one), so the main challenge is locating the minigame and either a) beating it with 6 or 7 melons, which will cause a Heart Fruit to spawn in the correct position to see the coins no matter what fruit Yoshi are prior, or b) collecting 5 melons in a row prior to starting the minigame and finishing it with at least 1 melon, which is considerably easier (though not trivial in the case of the crate-carrying minigames, as those are generally all-or-nothing type affairs).

Since the game's first minigame is both the easiest type - a race to the finish - and is located on the level's only path, as such being impossible to avoid, most players would be able to see the letter even if they were not trying particularly hard. However, the significance of the letter as the first part of a game-spanning message may have been lost on many of the players.

Here is the letter: Y - located before the Message Box which is slighly before the 2nd Miss Warp (which is what the round characters with the numbers on their torsos serving as checkpoints in the game are called):

1-2: Suprise!!

Despite the game's story only allowing the player to progress through one level of each page at a time - meaning that the progression is e.g. 1-1, 2-1, 3-1... rather than 1-1, 1-2, 1-3..., the message's letters need to be read in the order of each level in a page (1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 2-1...), which makes Trial Mode the preferable way of looking for the letters, as it allows the player to tackle the stages in the correct order. (If you were instead to take four trips through Story Mode, each going through a different level number, and write down the message, it would come out as "YRSGTT OEHRPN UYIEAE AOSARR".)

In 1-2, a vase can be found in a ? Bubble below some breakable blue blocks between the 1st and 2nd Miss Warps. 

The vase warps Yoshi to a side area containing a crate carrying minigame. The next letter, O, is located right after the goal flag:

1-3: Rail Lift

This is another level where the crate-carrying minigame is not in a side area, but rather part of the main route through the level. Right before the 3rd Miss Warp is the goal flag and the letter U:

1-4: Tower Climb

After going through the entire first area by climbing the first tower and then using the umbrella to fall down the other side and entering the door, Yoshi will be inside the tower. Climbing a few "! Balls" leads Yoshi to the 2nd Miss Warp. To the left of that spot is a Question Block containing a vase which leads to the game's first long-jump minigame. Since these are notoriously difficult to get a perfect score in, it is advisable to get 5 melons before entering the room so the Heart Fruit is assured to appear if a less than perfect score is achieved. The letter A is right after the goal flag, as usual.

2-1: Bone Dragon Pit

The second area of this level is a maze. Going down and right from the beginning, then over the pits with the moving platforms to the upper right corner of the area will bring Yoshi to a shaft he must fall down. Veering left while falling lands Yoshi in an alcove with the third Miss Warp and a vase leading out of the cave, to a crate-carrying minigame. 

At the end is the letter R.

2-2: Blargg's Boiler

In the second part of the level, there is a blue pipe descending from the ceiling between the 3rd and 4th Miss Warps.

Entering it takes Yoshi outside again, where the letter E can be found at the end of another crate-carrying minigame.

2-3: Jelly Pipe

This is the first letter that may be legitimately tricky to find even for players who are looking for it, as there is no minigame in this level and thus no unambiguous place for it to be expected in. First, make sure to get 5 melons, and then make your way through the level until you reach the second area.

I have used a map of that area from the 1998/7 issue of the German N-Zone magazine to indicate the part of the level the letter can be found in. The "B" shows the entrance of the area, the yellow circle is where the letter is. Simply go left and then straight down from the entrance, pick up any of the nearby melons, and activate the Heart Fruit to see the next letter, Y:

2-4: Torrential Maze

Although this level is one of the most complex ones in the game in terms of topology, it is not very hard to reach the secret letter. Right above the starting point is Miss Warp 1. Yoshi must cross the room once to the right and then back to the left to reach that spot. From there, take the lift upward and then go right until Yoshi walks off-screen to the next area. In the second area, go right until the end of the room and you will arrive at Miss Warp 4 (skipping 2 and 3).

Next comes a little puzzle. The wall to the right of Miss Warp 4 can be jumped over and leads to Poochy. Trying to Ground Pound the spot Poochy is indicating only gives two coins. The solution is to throw an egg upwards from Poochy's position to make a Turbo Tulip appear.

With the Turbo Tulip, Yoshi can launch himself up the rightmost shaft and reach a door on top of it:

Inside that door are a multitude of melons in ? Bubbles, and collecting those results in a Heart Fruit. Eat it to make the next letter, O, appear:

3-1: Cloud Cruising

Making your way through the level normally, you will encounter a green dragon. After riding it for a little while, a ? Panel on a parachute will descend from above.

Shooting the panel makes a small staircase of clouds appear, which leads Yoshi to a vase that transports him to a bonus area with the third Miss Warp.

This area is different from most minigame areas because while it also contains melons that must be collected inside a time limit, the method of doing it is unique. Yoshi must shoot the descending ? Panels and make his way up the temporary clouds that appear. The bigger clouds have a melon lying on them. Getting a Heart Fruit after the 7th melon on the top and then going left reveals the next letter, S:

3-2: The Tall Tower

After completing the first tall vertical area, the second area is horizontal and filled with leaves that Yoshi can surf the air on. After the second such segment, there is a ? Bubble containing a vase leading to a minigame room where Yoshi must race against the clock by surfing on a leaf over an incredibly long gap - which, to my knowledge, is the widest continuous bottomless pit without platforms or obstacles in any 2D platforming level in the greater Mario franchise. 

At the end, if all melons are collected, Yoshi can see the next letter: an H.

3-3: Poochy and Nippy

In this level, simply walking a few screens to the right from the start reveals the beginning of a crate-carrying minigame. Completing it rewards Yoshi with the next letter: an I.

3-4: Frustration

The level's name is appropriate here because it contains a unique twist on the search for letters: a fake-out. Completing the minigame, which is a race against time after the second Miss Warp, reveals not the next letter in the sequence, but a heart instead:

If a player were to take this as the end of the message - after all, it is precisely halfway through the game - the message would be "YOU ARE YOSHI ♡", which is not entirely nonsensical, but is not the true message.

The real next letter can be found at the very end of the level, where there is another crate-carrying minigame. It is an S, with the apostrophe included for convenience so the player does not think the message is "YOU ARE YOSHIS" instead.

4-1: Jungle Hut

The letter in this level is very tricky because it is located in an area with only 5 melons - but since 6 melons in a row are needed to make a Heart Fruit appear, if Yoshi enters this area with no fruits eaten, or a non-melon fruit eaten most recently, he will be unable to get the 6-melon streak and thus not see the letter.

With that in mind, Yoshi must collect anywhere between 1 and 5 melons and head to the upper left corner of the main hub area, where a green pipe will bring him to a hut filled with spiders. An interesting fact about this area is that it plays a unique music track not heard anywhere else in the game: Spider Swing, and that if the individual spiders are hit with Yoshi's eggs, the music's instruments will turn off/on separately, allowing the player to create their own mix.

Inside the hut, a ? Switch will temporarily make 5 melons appear. Getting enough of them to spawn a Heart Fruit and going to the floor level of the hut reveals the next letter: a G.

4-2: Jungle Puddle

In the second area of this level, a Red Blurp menaces Yoshi from the water. However, Yoshi must enter the water at the risk of getting eaten in this area, where the coins indicate that something may be below:

The coins leads to a red pipe, which takes Yoshi to an underground area with a crate-carrying minigame. Winning it reveals the next letter, an R:

4-3: Piranha Grove

In this level, you will encounter yellow balls that Yoshi can slowly roll by standing on top of them, like in Level 2-1. The second such ball, found after the third Miss Warp, is used to get past terrain overgrown with thorny vines; at the end there is a vase on top of a high platform. The vase takes Yoshi to another crate-carrying minigame, which reveals the next letter: an E.

4-4: Neuron Jungle

Near the beginning of the level, Yoshi encounters the first Red Neuron. Ground Pounding it reveals an arrow sign to the left of it pointing down.

Following the arrow sign and the subsequent trail of coins leads Yoshi to another vase, which takes him to a minigame room, where he must swim through an underwater obstacle course in a race against time. At the end of the minigame, you are rewarded with another letter: A.

5-1: Lots O' Jelly Fish

Watch out for a yellow pipe on top of the screen in the area after the first Snorkel Fish room. It will take you to an above-water room with a long jump minigame.

Winning the game reveals the next letter, a T. As this particular minigame can be reliant on luck with the randomly moving Teehee Butterflies, it is practical to get 5 melons before entering the room so there is no requirement to get very far with the jump.

5-2: Lots O' Fish

At the very end of the level, there is a blue pipe that takes Yoshi to another above-ground portion with a crate-carrying minigame. This one requires a trick to beat: hold R to make Yoshi sniff while carrying the crates, which will let him past the bee's nest further down.

As usual, beating the minigame rewards you with the next letter, a P.

5-3: Shy Guy Limbo

In this level, a Lakitu will appear immediately after Yoshi passes the second Miss Warp. Defeat the Lakitu and ride his cloud directly upwards, then slightly to the left. Enter one of the two pipes on top of the screen - both the blue and green one take Yoshi to a minigame room in the clouds. At the end of the long jump minigame is the next letter: an A.

5-4: Shy Guy's Ship

Make your way through the level until you reach the third Miss Warp. After the next platform, a gap with many pipes stretches out. The fourth pipe (blue, on the right edge of the screen in this screenshot) can be entered.

Inside is a room with another race against time-type minigame, where Yoshi must pull himself up with his tongue on a vertical gauntlet of ! Balls. At the end is another letter, rather appropriate for a pirate-themed level: an R.

6-1: Mecha Castle

The minigame room is at the very end of the level. After making your way through the first room with the gears, then the second room with the rotating cylinders and pistons, Yoshi will be taken to a vertical room with blades coming out of the walls. Reach this location and instead of going up, go left.

Yoshi will find a vase that takes him to a very hard minigame that is a race against time in a room full of mechanical obstacles. It is nearly impossible to get all 7 melons if Yoshi takes damage even once, so it is recommended to enter the room with 4 melons (one extra melon is present before the minigame starts) to give yourself the biggest leeway. The letter at the end is a T.

6-2: Lift Castle

Again, the letter is at the very end of the level. Play the level as you usually would, going left until you reach the first unlocked door, defeating the enemies within for a key. Then make your way back to the locked door and simply continue through every room to the right until you get to the beginning of a crate-carrying minigame. At the end is another letter, an N.

4-3: Ghost Castle 

At the end of the first, linear room, there is a door that takes Yoshi to a large hub area going into many different directions. At the very top of the room is a green pipe, barely visible until you jump towards it (see upper left corner of the screenshot).

Inside the pipe is another crate-carrying minigame, which reveals the second-to-last letter: an E.

6-4: Magma Castle

Getting to the top right of the second, large area of this level and going off-screen to the right takes Yoshi to an area with the grimacing Attacky Sack enemies. After taking a few moving platforms upwards, you will reach a large room containing many ? Crates. Pushing any two of them together rewards you with two melons. If you enter this room having already eaten a streak of 4 melons, you only need to solve one of these mini-puzzles to spawn a Heart Fruit. After eating it, you will find the final letter, an R, on the left of the room.

Finally, let us see what the finished message looks like!

YOU ARE YOSHI'S GREAT PARTNER!

I hope that this guide will help you if you decide to get all the letters yourself. Thank you very much for reading!

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