From playing many Nintendo games featuring music from Koji Kondo, I have the hunch that he knows how to make fun scores. Super Mario Yoshi Island (Yoshi's Island, to us Americans) continues the legendary trend of his previous works. The music here has a typical Mario-esque feeling (although the classic theme is not used), but in a youthful, innocent schtick to keep the Mario universe afloat, while inviting us to join in with the whimsical world of the Yoshis. The score occasionally screams treacliness (in tracks like "Story Music Box"), but it is not completely overdone, unlike its semi-disappointing N64 sequel, "Yoshi's Story". It keeps the saccharine feeling to a mild level, which allows this score to be more enjoyable than its sequel was.
In fact, this score is more snappy than cute. The main title theme, "Yoshi's Island", in particular, is very cool! It has a great dance beat and it's enhanced by calypso instruments. The other stuff on here is equally great, too. "Flower Garden" is a nice frolic song, "Underground BGM" is funky, "Athletic" is appropiately athletic... all the songs are great fun. Best of all, it has an extended version of the famous "Invincible" theme, entitled "Powerful Infant".
If there is any weakness in the soundtrack, it would probably be the boss battle themes. They are mostly noisy cacophonies that get irritating instantly. However, this is only two out of 26 tracks, and does nothing to take away the entertainment value of the music.
The highlight of this score is the end title theme. It sounds a tad bit like the end title theme from Super Mario World, but instead is played in a lullaby manner. And when the song almost becomes too treacly, Kondo throws in elements of the end title theme from "The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past". I wish I could hear a concert arrangement of this song, because of those elements from the finale of Zelda.
All of this makes Super Mario Yoshi Island a very entertaining listening experience, but it hasn't had much of a life on its own. In other words, not too many people are raving about Yoshi's Island, and most have probably forgotten about it by now. This is a shame, because Yoshi's Island is one of Kondo's best scores so far.
Don't be fooled by its cute appearance; this is a soundtrack that is jam-packed with more fun and pleasure than one can possibly imagine. All in all, if you can ever find it anywhere, Super Mario Yoshi Island is a must-get.