Lost in Localization: Yo! Noid (NES)

Lost in Localization: Yo! Noid (NES)

Posted by Aaron on 17th May 2016

All of us have fond memories of playing great games in our childhoods. Well, did you know that someone in another part of the world might have played the exact same game, but it was entirely different!? Welcome to the wonderful world of localization.


In 1990 a wonderfully quirky action platformer was released for the NES called Kamen no Ninja Hanamura, or as it's more commonly known in the United States, Yo! Noid. The original Japanese version of the game followed the adventures of a young Ninja in training, Hanamaru, as he attempted to rescue a group of children that had disspared at a theme park. Hanamaru was assisted on his adventure by a mechanical hawk that could be used as projectile weapon to fight enemies. The game actually used a unique card battling system for boss battles, which was fairly atypical for the platformer genre. However, when the time came to localize the game for American audiences more than a few things changed.


When planning to release the game in the U.S. a decision was made by Capcom and Nintendo to use the game as a promotional title for Domino's Pizza. The game was renamed Yo! Noidand starred Domino's mascot at the time "The Noid". As many of the games ninja themes would no longer work with the new rebranding, a multitude of changes had to be made. Hanamura's mechanical hawk was replaced by a yo-yo, while enemies and levels underwent heavy graphical editing. The story was also altered, instead of saving young children from a theme park, the action takes place in New York City and sees the player tasked with stopping hooligans led by The Noid's arch-enemy, Mr. Green. Boss battles follow the same basic formula originally laid out by the original Japanese game, but were modified to be pizza eating contests using a card matching system. Interestingly enough, all of the ninja scrolls that are scattered throughout the game, which grant The Noid's yo-yo various power-up abilities, were not graphically altered.

Yo!Noid is another in a long line of interesting games that were lost in localization.