So how many times do you think I have eaten a pizza from Domino’s? Once. This is not because it was a bad experience, it was nice. It is just that the only Domino’s I have ever seen in Norway is located in an obscure corner in Oslo where I never had any reason to walk past and just happened to stumble upon one drunk midnight. When visiting Casper, he got me a Domino-pizza and we ate and lived happily ever after, until I had to go back home. Then I remembered the tie-in game for our Capitalism month, and I wanted to check out Yo!Noid or Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru which was its original title. This is an amazing form of selling out, but I am intrigued by this title, as it was made by Now Production, who also made Adventure Island 2 and 3, Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti, Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu, and even the Klonoa games for the GBA. As I made home-made Pizza after work one late afternoon, it was time to keep the Noid occupied by playing his game. I think that works?
As the annoying creature that wishes to destroy pizzas, the Noid finds out that Mr. Green is causing havoc around New York City. The “Mayer” asks the Noid to stop Mr. Green and will reward him with plenty of pizza. The setup is completely shallow, even for a big advertisement, as all the bosses, including Mr. Green, are just color-swapped twins of the Noid, and the Noid himself actually is known to destroy pIzzas. Shouldn’t he co-operate with his twins and cause havoc as the bugger he is? Nonetheless, with a YoYo in his hand, we are off to save New York City and hopefully show the Noid that pizzas are impossible to hate.
So why is this game called Yo!Noid besides the obvious poor attempt at being hip? Well, the Noid has a yoyo and with it, he jumps through linear levels in order to get to the goal and fends off the enemies with this surprisingly common weapon. In other words, Yo!Noid is a platformer and is probably one of the worst ones I have ever finished for the NES. Firstly, you cannot jump on enemies and must take them out with your yoyo, which sounds fine, but the problem comes when enemies come from underneath or above you, and you can only fling the yoyo in a straight line left or right. You can use an earthquake-spell by hitting down and B, but this can only be done if you have gotten enough points by taking out enemies or gathered collectibles. Power-ups are not plentiful either, as you can only get a hammer-pogo stick which controls fine, and an invincibility power-up that I only acquired once in my entire playthrough.
However, maybe you could deal with being blindsided by enemies that are impossible to react to. A health-bar is always helpful for these moments, right? Well, tough luck. There is no form of HP, meaning taking one hit or falling of one of the plenty bottomless pits, sends you back to the beginning of the stage and, with limited continues, you might never see the end-screen (which is honestly for the better). The stages do not even have checkpoints, which is just another kick to the groin added on top of unfair difficulty-problems.
Then we have the level-design and this is designed by some lazy sadist, which almost sound contradictory. Sadist, in the form that we have docks that have waves which kills you as soon as you touch the water, an ice-stage as level 2 with moving platforms, a forced skateboard segment that is uncomfortable to control, auto-scroller stages, and stretched jumps. Combined with the enemies that blindside you, this is just a disaster. Besides the skateboard, you will also pilot an aircraft that needs to be hovered by pressing the jump button. It is annoying, again due to the unfair difficulty with tight corridors and cheap enemy-placements.
However, this is also where I want to compliment Yo!Noid: it has stage-gimmicks that could work if they cared for making more creative use of them. The moving platforms along the empire state building could be amusing, if it did not have enemies that killed me in one hit, and the ice-moving platforms could have worked with other gimmicks involved. Sadly, it is here that the laziness comes in, as instead of focusing on making the platforming engaging with more altitude platforms or a neat concept, the developers only wanted to make this as hard as possible. Yes, it might not be impossible, but it is like saying you will still live after literally nailing your hand to a table: it is still far from a pleasant or a worthwhile experience!
There is some variety outside of the platforming, and you probably guessed by this point that they are just as awful. There is one uninteresting whack-a-mole game that lasts under a minute, so I won’t spend too much time on this. The worst ones are actually the “bossfights” and all 8 are the exact same setup, but increasingly prolonged. In these “fights” you try to pick a card higher than your opponent until you get max points. The loser is the opponent with the lowest point, the one that can’t eat more which is represented by the circles by the player, or if you run out of cards before the opponent.
You have some items to help, such as adding pepper to make the opponent unable to eat the pizza or double the number of pizzas you have chosen, but that is it. To get the best cards, you will have to have gathered as many scrolls and points as possible, but I was always unsure how it was measured. The worst part, however, is that whenever you lose or take too long to even choose a card, you will be forced to redo the previous level. Adding into how long these fights can last due to animations, this is just an awful way of padding out game-time. Isn’t it enough that there is a timer for the stages themselves?
There are some platforming parts in Yo!Noid that are adequate, but thanks to terrible design-choices everywhere, there are no reasons to play this title, especially when Capcom already had the blue-bomber, great Disney-classics, and more to offer on the same console. Unfair difficulty, uninspired level design, terrible fights, there is nothing here worth going in for.
Gameplay Score: 2/10
New York gotta be more interesting than this
I just want to start this segment out by talking about the audio, as 90% of the songs are incredibly short, repetitive, and just abysmal to listen to due poor variety in notes. Those few that vary slightly more, are forgotten as they are just somewhat better. At least there are different songs between the stages, but that is the only praise I can truly give to this game’s soundtrack.
As for the visuals, there is a bizarre mix of variety and uninspired setups. We have carnivals, skyscrapers, alleyways, and parks that all showcase how diverse New York City is, but that is all I can praise these levels for. There is no visual variety within these stages with dull color palettes that are almost washed out. While they are intriguing ideas due to going for one concept each, there is nothing in them to make these stages intriguing, like visual flares or diverse looks. The same goes for the enemies, as we have rats in garbage-cans, ice bears with hockey equipment and so on. While they are okay, they don’t add to make Yo!Noid’s world any more interesting or imaginative. Yes, this is a mascot to sell a product, but that does not mean you can’t have interesting worlds, enemies, or some form of creativity past the simple ideas? It all works and has at least variety, but minimal creativity at the same time.
Presentation Score: 4/10
“Avoid the Noid, he ruins pizzas”. Well, now he can add games to his resume too. With this setup, I wonder how Domino’s is still around, as there is such laziness to everything and a lack of quality control. Why not make a fun game so people WOULD like to eat at Domino’s? Capcom has so many other options, so you can easily neglect this for some good 8-bit platformer or a nice pizza. May I then ask, WHY DOES YO!NOID 2 EXIST? WHAT MAD FAN WANTED A SEQUEL???