I sat down and legitimately tried to play Yo! Noid, and the only thing I can really say about my experience is "Ugh."
You remember the 90s, right? Neon shorts, Ace of Base, two Goofy movies... the whole shebang. It was also a time when a ton of video games based on food franchises were released. McDonalds. Chester Cheetah. Pepsi. Chex. The 7-Up Spot dot thing. They all had "advergames", games designed to indirectly promote a product or service. And in 1990, even Domino's Pizza wanted to reach their greasy pepperoni-soaked hand into the video game industry. Capcom agreed to take one of their Japan-exclusive games, Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru, and twist it up until it became a vehicle for the Domino's mascot, the Noid. And it's as awful to play as having to eat a Domino's Pizza.
Ah, yes, the Noid. What even IS this pizza-infatuated man-beast? He's a guy dressed in a one-piece set of crimson footie pyjamas complete with rabbit ears. His disfiguredly ugly face, complemented with a nose so bulbous it puts local clowns to shame, hides an even more diabolical mindset. His goal is to ensure that no Domino's pizzas ever arrive in 30 minutes or less. Why? I have no idea. This Noid thing doesn't exactly reveal his internal motivations to keep that pepperoni and quadruple onion pizza pie away from a hungry shut-in. He typically fails, however, and is simply a town nuisance that probably should be given a fine by the police and possibly some jail time for public misconduct. The Noid campaign's slogan was "Avoid the Noid!" Truer words have never been spoken.
Well, maybe not. How about "Avoid Yo! Noid."
Despite being portrayed as a major pain in the backside, you become the Noid in a heroic effort to stop a look-alike character called "Mr. Green" from causing havoc all over New York City with his slimy minions. You are summoned specifically by the Mayor of New York — well, actually...
...the "mayer", as in Oscar Mayer, the prime producer of piquante pepperoni! He can't have all of his pizza-related business dealings interrupted by a bunch of viscous hooligans hell-bent on frapping innocent customers in the streets! No, we need the Noid now more than ever! The worst part is that, in the prototype version of Yo! Noid, it's actually spelled correctly as "mayor". Someone in Capcom's localizing team/fart contest winner circle decided to change this word to an incorrect spelling. Thanks!
Our pal, Danny "Freedom" Noid, has to endure fourteen stages of New Yorkian Hell before taking down the mysterious Mr. Green, who is just a guy in a green Noid costume. And boy, do these stages feel like they last way too long. His only real method of defense is a yo-yo. Wait, scratch that—a SUPER yo-yo! What makes it super? Uh... um... it's gray...? It isn't upgradeable like the yo-yo brandished by Mike Jones in the StarTropics series. It's just your standard dollar store yo-yo, although it can certainly take out fishermen, curling players, and plunger-toting Elvis impersonators with ease. But each stage is indeed a taxing experience, with all sorts of obstacles, both seen and unseen until it bites you, ready to wear you down. Add to this no life meter — meaning every hit is an instant kill — and you have the recipe for a disaster pizza.
Heck, the game doesn't even give you much of a chance to ease into it. The first stage is set on some oceanside wharf whose platforms rise and fall into the water the whole time. If you even touch the water, you die. That Noid outfit must not be waterproof! Along the way, he also has to dodge disgruntled fishermen with harpoons, and fish that will easily leap from below to give you a butt chomping you didn't ask for! Those fish alone will become the bane of your existence. If you manage to survive the Pier of Doom, more merciless sewer sludge awaits you! Why not throw a completely unrelated ice stage right afterward, if only because everyone loves slippery stages filled with rage-induced bears in hockey gear. But hey, why stop there? I'm still shocked by how difficult this game is, so let's throw out there a skateboarding stage where the Noid can't use his weapon and has to grind on enemies' faces to defeat them? Or what about a stage high above New York with Elvis impersonators, flame-breathing plumpers, and balloons that can magically turn to stone and collapse on you while you hop around on a goofy-looking oversized pogo stick? Oh wait, it's a "pizza crusher". Why do I need that? How about we not play this overly difficult slice of holy-Toledo-how-did-they-make-this pizza pie and try something more fun like swallowing a brick while performing Bolshoi ballet in a tight pantsuit?
The most fun you'll have? Looking at screenshots of the game.
The Noid DOES pack an additional punch, however. By finding large scrolls in a stage, the Noid can use a powerful spell to help him out a bit. There's a charging meter at the bottom of the screen (right by the score meter and your ever-shrinking number of lives display) that, as you find smaller scrolls to charge it, rises in power. The more full it is, naturally, the more times you can execute a spell. There's the Light Burst, basically killing enemies on screen with a flash; the Pizza Crusher, with a similar result but far more quake-like; and Dark Noid, giving him extra jumping power. Hey, whatever it takes to survive these dastardly levels of doom.
I'll bet you expect the boss battles to be equally torturous...and you'd be correct, mostly because they're not your typical brawls. You are forced to enter pizza eating contests! Oh boy! Both you and an opposing man in a Noid outfit compete to see who can fill up their pizza meters more quickly. Each Noid has a bunch of cards with different numbers on them referring to the number of pizzas they will eat. You're basically throwing cards to see whose number is higher; whosever is higher eats the difference in number of pizzas. Sounds boring, right? Well, it is, but let's add a bit of strategy on there. You'll have access to cards such as the "II" and "III" cards, which will double or triple the number on your card respectively, and the pepper and hot sauce cards, which nullify your opponent's choice (as spicy foods do not agree with anyone, apparently). You play until a pizza meter is filled, someone runs out of cards, or you run out of time because you had to visit the restroom on a whim.
In short, it's boring. In long, it's extremely dull and jarring to the game's pace.
To make matters worse, the only way to get the "good" cards — the ones that multiply your pizza count or spice up the other Noid's steamy dinner — is to find them in levels. Sometimes they're just sitting out in the open, and that's great. Lap them up like a sweaty schnauser on the Fourth of July. But others are hidden, and the only way to reveal them is to just whip that yo-yo through the air, hoping you find something. Is this really how we find secrets now? Do we just pray for an item to appear as we attack a random location in space? I'm glad we don't have to follow that model for getting food! I don't quite know where a platter of tacos is hiding in my home; I'd better start throwing a children's toy through the air and hope I don't starve to death.
Bottom line: the game looks okay, it sounds okay, and it smells okay, but it's as much fun to play as an unanesthetized tracheotomy. There's nothing wrong with its presentation, other than that it's being presented at all. It's not even worth suffering just to save a dollar on "the Noid's Favorite Pizza".
The coupon expired. No free lousy pizza.