“Wild creatures led by Mr. Green are assailing New York City. The Mayer knows that only the Noid has the power to stop him. Using his super yoyo and other inventions, he will try…”
Yo Noid! (1990)
Man, I love pizza. There’s just something comforting about it. You have a wheel of chewy bread covered in tangy tomato sauce and topped with gooey cheese… UH, YUM! Other than it being yummy, it brings back teen memories of Friday nights of playing Dungeons and Dragons with my buddies; sharing a 3-topping pizza, arguing about who was the best Ghostbuster, and rolling a 20-sided dice to see who gets the last slice… back then that’s what life was all about. Just thinking about those bonding moments makes me miss my youth.
In my opinion I think owning a pizza parlor has to be the most competitive business out there. In every town there’s 10’s to 100’s of different pizza joints to choose from and back in the day it was a difficult decision to pick a place amongst all of those door-to-door pizza flyers. Dominos must have felt this way and back in the 80’s. They needed something to stand out from all of the rest. They needed some sort of mascot… some sort of “Noid.”
The Noid first appeared in 1986 as a mischievous red suited gremlin that would try his best to thwart Dominos 30-minute or less pizza delivery. This claymation prankster was a true hit with his Wile E. Coyote antics and became a cultural icon overnight. Other than commercials there were shirts, stickers, hats, figures which America couldn’t get enough of. It was just a matter of time until we would see this pesky fiend star in his own 8-bit adventure.
FRESH OUT OF THE OVEN…?
Right from the start I am left with a sense of confusion about why the “Mayer” of New York would hire the legendary Destroyer of Pizzas to apprehend… um, his more evil brother? Really Capcom, this is the best storyline that you could come up with? You couldn’t have thought of something more clever like the Noid’s brother adding brainwashing sauce to Dominos Pizza or opening a more eviler pizza chain with plans of world pizza domination? And this is just crap that I just came up with within seconds of writing this! Nope, it’s just a tale of the Noid and his more-of-an-asshole brother causing shenanigans in the big city. What a lame piece of moneyf*ck of a storyline but I’ll still give it a shot… for the children.
After viewing your game glitch of a city map, you start on level one at the docks. Not at the airport, train station, city hall, police station or anywhere else that would make more sense. Armed with your trusty yo-yo and special earthquake/freeze spellz (?), you do battle with jumping fish or harpoon-armed fishermen that apparently didn’t get the Mayer’s memo that you’re now a good guy. These deadly obstacles just know when to get in your way especially when jumping on dock platforms that rise and sink with the tide or when grabbing more spellz scrolls. Fish show up while you’re in a mid air jump and fisherman walk left to the ledge that your jumping to. So most of the time you have to remember their patterns, backtrack one or two steps (so as not to get hit), and wait while they do their cameos before you hit them with your yo-yo.
Oh, did I forget to mention that if anything hits you once, you die. If you touch the water, you die. If you wait too long to jump or dodge baddies, time will run out and guess what happens… YEP, YOU DIE!!! Why would Capcom make the first level so ridiculously hard is just beyond my mental comprehension? First levels are supposed to be somewhat easy, as a practice run while the player becomes familiar with the controls, not a constant one-hit deathfest. It took me 30 &#$@! minutes and a lot more cursing just to complete this idiotic lesson in futility. And what’s your reward for accomplishing the impossible? You continue to a pizza-eating contest? WHAT the F?!
And if you think that the first level was pain in the ass… oh, get ready to start you next level of side scrolling hell… which happens to be on ice. Yes, an ice level. If you ever played any NES side scroller, the ice level is always the hardest level in the game. All you do is plummet to your death while sliding off floating icebergs or into Hockey polar bears (?). Why the #$*@ would you make a children’s game so hard and once again I ask why would Capcom, the creator of NES classics such as Mega Man and DuckTales slap their name on such a sh*tty game? Well it turns out that Yo Noid! is just a recoded copy of a previous Japanese Capcom title, Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru.
CAPCOM CUTS SOME CORNERS
Yep, to save time and money, Capcom got lazy and quickly/poorly retooled an existing Japanese game for US audiences, and it shows. The level dynamics are exactly the same, right down to the floating spellz scrolls but with different overlapping background graphics (which I have to say look better than it’s Japanese counterpart). When doing this, something got lost in the reprogramming, creating some platforms where you fall through to your death and baddies which have a 50/50 chance of dying or killing you when you’re trying to hit it. It’s hard to play a game when you jump onto an exposed part of a semi-sinking dock just to die because the re-rendered dock graphic was placed too high above the reused Japanese programming dynamic.
In English, the narrow walking space from Ninja Hanamaru was overlapped with a larger graphic, creating confusion on how much space you have when you jump from dock to dock, causing you to think you have more room but you don’t. This leads to confusing gameplay especially when a semi-submerged dock is actually underwater. You jump, you die, you angrily destroy your NES with a baseball bat. I played this game for about an hour before I yelled into my frustration pillow and called it a night. You can only jump on so many misleading platforms before you just get tired of dying over and over again. Also you only get 3 continues to pass the game’s 14 levels of monotonous mayhem. Man, I call bullsh!t on that!
IT’S A PIZZA PARTY!
The only part of Yo Noid! that I liked was the Pizza eating contests/boss battles found at the end of every other level (other bonus levels are versions of Whack-A-Mole but I didn’t get that far). The previous level of frustration takes a back seat for a puzzle-like pizza eating competition. Both you and the evil Noid get numbered playing cards. Your different colored doppelganger goes first and will choose a numbered card at random; to represent how many pizzas he can eat. Your goal is the pick a higher card, proving that you can eat more pizza than your evil counterpart.
A point meter fills up with each win and whoever has the highest points at the end wins. If you win, then the Noid continues on to the next level, but if you lose or not pick a card within the time limit you’ll lose a life and have to restart the previous level over again. Really the punishment for not wining a mini game is that I have to redo the whole *&$@ level over again??? Isn’t playing this god-awful level the first time punishment enough?
Even though I would like to go back in time and go all Terminator on the guy that ok’d this piece of baboon sh*t, it turns out even after all these years, Yo Noid! still has a huge cult following with plans of a “homebrewed” sequel. Who knew that so many people are still willing to embrace the pain of this grinning red rabbit-eared bastard child of Dominos.
OUT OF 5
Even though I do hate this title for how ridiculously hard it is, I do understand the gamers drive to play through the pain and the sense of joy when completing the impossible. I just wish that it was fun to do so. As stated in those comical commercials: “Avoid the Noid”.
+ Tight responsive controls
+ Challenging gameplay and nice graphics
+ Fun Mini Game(s)
– One hit deaths, no checkpoints
– Only three continues
– Glitches make levels unnecessarily hard