Aside from providing the voice for Yoshi, Kazumi Totaka is also the composer of the music in Yoshi's Story. The game features an interactive soundtrack, where the music will change according to the high and low ends of Yoshi's mood. That is, if Yoshi is harmed to the point where the Smile Meter has no remaining petals, the music will sweep down to a lower pitch and tempo, reflecting his dreary mood. But if Yoshi eats a Heart Fruit and becomes Super Happy, the music will instantly switch to a rock version of the currently playing theme. Totaka has also hidden his 19-note signature melody in the game, which may be heard on the Trial Mode course select screen, after the background music has looped eight times.
Prior to the game's release, a promotional soundtrack was released in North America, titled Music to Pound the Ground To: Yoshi's Story Game Soundtrack. Published by The Original Shape CD, Inc., the 15-track CD had the characteristic trait of being shaped to outline the print on the disc, illustrating Yoshi's head. However, as an asymmetrically shaped CD, it raises compatibility issues with most non-portable CD players. The soundtrack was later released in Japan on February 4, 1998, published by Pony Canyon. Titled Yoshi Story Original Soundtrack (, Yossh Sutr Orijinaru Saundotorakku), the album was released as Vol. 5 in the national Nintendo Sound Series. With every score and fanfare from the game included on the disc, the release contained a total of 49 tracks, plus a final bonus track. The third and last issue of the soundtrack, Love, Peace & Happiness: The Original Yoshi's Story Soundtrack, contained 28 tracks, and was released in Germany on April 9, 1998, published by Nintendo of Europe GmbH. Notably, track titles vary between the different versions, whereas the North American release basically translates the Japanese titles, while the German release reinterprets most of them.
According to the Japanese magazine Famitsu, Yoshi's Story sold 53,428 copies on the day of its release in Japan. As a result, it gained the number seven rank in Famitsu's top ten best-selling video games chart. The game sold an additional 118,502 copies in the region by January 4, 1998, dropping to the number eight spot. By the end of that year, Yoshi's Story sold a total of 618,789 copies in Japan, making it the 27th best-selling video game in the country in 1998.
Nintendo intended to release Yoshi's Story in North America by the 1997 holiday season, but the release was delayed until March 1998. A Nintendo official said that the delay was "based on us demanding A-plus quality." Once the game was completed, Nintendo initially shipped 800,000 units from Japan to American retailers. Retailers were concerned that there would be shortages (like there had been for GoldenEye 007), but a Nintendo official promised that the shipment would satisfy demand.
In an effort to promote the game in the U.S., Nintendo direct-mailed advertisements to recent console buyers; put advertisements in gaming and children's magazines; and aired a 30-second television advertisement on NBC, Fox Kids, Kids' WB and Nickelodeon during children's programming. On March 7, 1998, Nintendo pre-launched the game in Lizard Lick, North Carolina; a town of 1,300 residents. The event featured tongue-themed contests for children, and video terminals that let people try out the game. While Yoshi's Story was originally scheduled for a release by March 9, 1998, it was postponed due to El Nio storms. It was officially released the following day, on March 10, 1998, with a MSRP of US $59.95.
An article in Financial Times said that the late release, an inadequate supply, and distribution errors had led to poor sales for Yoshi's Story in the U.S. Within a month, the game was being discounted by more than 50%. Even so, Yoshi's Story became a Player's Choice title on August 23, 1998, and its MSRP was reduced to US $39.95. According to The NPD Group, Yoshi's Story was the 16th best selling video game in the U.S. in 1998.