Saturday, September 10, 2011

v2, d413: WO2, #2: Random Nintendo Game of the Month!

Remember the Domino's Noid?  That mean claymation guy in the red spandex with some sort of bunny-type ears in Domino's Pizza commercials in the 1980's?  He basically spent every commercial just trying to wreck pizzas.  He didn't steal them, didn't eat them, he just wanted to destroy them.  Jerk.  Did you ever watch those commercials and think, "Man, I really want to play through a side-scrolling adventure Nintendo game with that guy as my protagonist!"

Yeah, probably not.  But since several different companies were going through these phases where they made Nintendo games based on their mascots in order to sell more products (I'm looking at you, 7-Up Spot), the Noid somehow became an action hero anyway in 1990's Yo! Noid.

The story of this game is as follows (this taken from the game manual):

Somebody's wrecking New York City! Or maybe it's a whole gang!
Wherever you go, hooligans jump out and knock you down. Can you imagine
the noive!
For instance, try strolling on the wharf, and get flapped by a fish.
Or go skateboarding Central Park -- you'll get shredded by dive bombers.
And with loonies everywhere, what a time for a brownout in the Bronx!
This is what the NOID is up against, and more! In fact, it looks
like his duplicate Mr. Green is causing all the antics. That's double
But the NOID's got plenty of ammo -- supernatural powers, incredible
inventions, and a whiz-bang yo-yo. He just needs a pizza every now and
then to keep him going!"

So, what exactly is going on in this game?  Basically, the Evil Noid is trying to make your life difficult by sending bizarre henchmen after you.  WHAT NOIVE!  Also, according to the story screen, the mayor knows that the only one who can save the city from the carnage is none other than the Noid.  Okay.  So you take up your trusty (stringless) yo-yo and fight your way through New York to finish this once and for all.  (I never realized the Noid had a green arch-nemesis from the commercials.  In fact, since the Noid was always a villain in the commercials, wouldn't that make Mr. Green a hero?)

Level one of this game in on the wharf, and the tide is coming in and going out the whole time.  The water animation makes the whole screen look really busy and it's hard to focus on...whatever it is you're doing.  Unfortunately, this is one of those "one hit and you DIE!" games as well as one of those "you die and you have to START ALL OVER" games.  Which is fine, because the levels aren't really that long, but it's still obnoxious.  You walk along, avoiding the rising tide and knocking seagulls and guys with harpoons to their deaths with your whiz-bang yo-yo.  It's not really a hard level, but it's rare for a rising-water-level to kick off your game.  Usually you get a pretty standard 2-D left-to-right no-tricks level to let your players get used to the physics without any gimmicks.  The only time I got really frustrated with a death was when I stepped onto a platform that was 1/4 covered in receding water and immediately died.  That's right, I drowned by standing on a plank that was only very slightly submerged.  

Come to think of it, the whole water-rising level idea rarely makes sense.  See, in SMB3, if you got caught in rising water it just meant you had to swim for it.  And there were enemies in the water.  And sometimes they could swallow you whole.  But in a lot of games, your ankles get wet and you're a goner. 

I finished the level and got to what appeared to be one of those in-between-stage games where you flip cards or play roulette or whatever to get powerups.  In this game, I was facing off against a purple Noid in a pizza-eating contest that ran pretty much like a card-based magic RPG.  We each had a deck of cards, each card had a number value that represented a number of pizzas.  He would play a card, then I would play a card, and whoever had the higher card got however many points made up the difference.  The goal was to fill up your gauge or make your opponent run out of cards.  This introduced an element of strategy into the game.  Unfortunately, it was NOT FUN.  AT ALL.  This mini-game was SO not fun, I decided to get up and get a snack and just let the time run out.  After about thirty seconds, my opponent said, "You snooze, you lose!"  And the game was over.  

And there I was, back at the beginning of Stage 1.  

That's right, the pizza-eating contest was my boss battle.  Would have been nice to know in advance.

Play through stage I again, play through the ABNORMALLY LONG, ABNORMALLY BORING BOSS BATTLE, and finally move on to stage 2.  

Dear Yo! Noid, 

While it is perfectly acceptable, yea, even expected for a side-scrolling NES game to have IceWorld level where it's impossible for the player to come to a complete stop on surfaces because they're frozen, YOU MAY NOT MAKE LEVEL 2 THE ICEWORLD LEVEL!  I mean, that's not fair!  Your players are still figuring out how this obnoxious little guy jumps, how he runs, and you COMPLETELY jack with the physics at the first opportunity!  No, don't think you can make it up to me by putting hockey-playing polar bears in the level.  And may NOT include moving platforms in your Level 2 IceWorld stage! And no, you may NOT make the moving platforms ice-coated as well!  Nor may you make the players stand on collapsable blocks while waiting for the moving ice-coated platforms to get close enough to jump on!!!  

That's just NOT RIGHT!

So that's Yo! Noid.  I don't know what stage three is like.  I don't really care.  I died a lot in this game.  The combination of being a true one-hit wonder, never having a straight level to get the physics worked out, and jumping from frozen moving platform to frozen moving platform pretty much sapped my fighting spirit.  Let Mr. Green have New York City.  If the Noid was your only hope of salvation in the first place, you're probably not a city worth saving. 

I have, of course, gone on to do a bit more reading about this game. Apparently it's just hard throughout.  You have pizza-eating boss battles throughout the game.  It's just kind of sad all the way around.

Here's a video of the epic conclusion to the game.  And the final boss battle is paced MUCH faster than the one I played after level one.  (I guess that's the game's way of upping the difficulty?)  

Post script:according to Wikipedia, there was a guy whose last name was Noid who apparently thought the entire Noid advertising thing was a personal attack, so he held two Domino's employees hostage and demanded they make him a pizza while he waited for the police to bring $100,000.00 and a getaway car.  He was eventually declared insane and thus not sentenced criminally for the incident.  Now, this is Wikipedia, so I don't know if it's true or not, but wow.