The Electric Yo-Yo


Review by Dave Giarrusso




Overall: 6

The Electric Yo-Yo is one of those obscure games that’s probably obscure for a reason.  In this case, I’m guessing that it suffered the same fate as another Taito game, (coin-cop cousin?) Qix.  Qix has often been called the poster-boy of games that people didn’t really understand and subsequently never caught on.  While Qix certainly had a cult following big enough to bring the game home to the Atari 5200, Gameboy and NES, the gameroom masses largely ignored it.  As a fan of Qix, it never occurred to me that it was tough to figure out (red=slow, blue=fast, box in the Qix, ‘nuff said) but nevertheless, I’ve met a fair share of players who just didn’t “get it.”

I’d like to propose that we elect a new poster-boy for the “I don’t get it” games.  Instead of Qix, how ‘bout The Electric Yo-Yo?  I sorta get it, but I don’t quite completely get it.  Evidently, neither did anyone else, and EYY had its plug pulled shortly after its low-voltage debut.

The Electric Yo-Yo is a game that you WANT to like, regardless of how good or bad it actually is.  The thought of an electric yo-yo alone is groovy, so a game based on one should be fantastic, right?  Right.  But here, it’s not fantastic.  It’s not that it’s bad, but it still has some issues to work out to launch it into the “fantastic” stratosphere.

For starters, real yo-yoing is all about doing crazy, off the wall tricks.  Shoot the moon, walk the dog, break the lamp, decapitate the neighbor, what have you.  If you have a yo-yo and are planning to impress the ladies by simply dropping it down and making it “sleep”, listen up buddy: they ain’t buying.  Unless you’re lamely yo-yoing that way in a polaroid that clearly displays your new sportscar in the background.  Then, maybe.  Okay, probably.

Anyhoo, The Electric Yo-Yo doesn’t take advantage of the “tricks” angle and instead focuses only on how long the string is as its focus for scoring.  The screen is littered with various “blox” (there’s that Qix heritage sneaking in again) forming patterns that immediately conjure up images of Solar Fox.  To grab the blox, simply lasso the loop end of the string around one.  The yo-yo will then follow the string back to the loop, ready for another pass.  Given the arrangement of the blox, some of them will be caught with only the shortest of strings.  The goal is to max out your score by maxing out the length of your string.  (Does it strike anyone else that a lot of these “neutered” games would give Freud and his students something to talk about all weekend long?)  Clearing each round isn’t particularly tough, but clearing each round while revving up your score is an entirely different story.

EYY’s cast of neutered friends also includes Bion and Trion.  Bions are bug-eyes with little feet, while Trions are bug-eyes that hover about the playfield on a three-dimensional sort of helix that could have come straight out of Qix.  Running into Trion always results in death, but Bions can be safely passed through if the player manages to charge up the ol’ yo-yo first.

Charging the yo-yo requires either a: luck, or b: quick reflexes and precision control.  As Trion bounces around the screen, it ricochets off of the blox, temporarily charging them.  Managing to capture charged blox converts the yo-yo into an electric yo-yo, the perfect tool for really pumping up your score.

Although the graphics in EYY are decent, they could stand to be more whimsical, a little more “electric”.  The design team was on the right track with the “exploding yo-yo” animation, but didn’t follow through with equally clever ideas throughout the rest of the game.

The sound effects, while a bit more fleshed out than the graphics, could also use a nudge up the scale.  A cool electricity sound-effect precedes the rolling out of each new yo-yo, and the explosion sounds are spot on.  Still, it’s almost as if an extra layer of sound is absent, like an Oreo with only one outer cookie piece.  A little opening and/or closing musical theme perhaps, the kind that would get stuck in your head and emerge during boring business meetings or other such “real life” downtime.  Instead, we’ve only got fundamental sounds to listen to, nothing shockingly original aside from the standouts already mentioned.

Pity, as the Electric Yo-Yo is a game that, merely based on the title, should be one we’re all familiar with.  Since the game didn’t rise up to the level of its namesake, instead of getting a variety of home conversions, EYY quickly disappeared.  Leaving us human yo-yos with drawers full of boring old “acoustic” yo-yos instead.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 03:23 PM