If you grew up in the ’90s, chances are good that you’ve played with a digital pet on a handheld egg-shaped device that featured a few buttons and a tiny screen, where you could check on your pixelated pet. Since then, digital creatures have come a long way. But when Canadian developer Tony Coculuzzi collaborated with Noodlecake Studios to create Noa Noa!, he wanted to harken back to that simpler time; so they put that little retro digital device inside your modern-day one.
The way it all begins is quite familiar: you’re given an egg, and it’s your job to hatch it. Out pops the cute little smiling face of your virtual pet, known as a Noa. To keep it happy, you’ll need to feed it, play games with it, and give it exercise, rest, baths and bathroom breaks when needed. Though you’re playing on a touchscreen, you’ll have to remind your thumbs that regular touchscreen commands don’t work here – the game maintains its ’90s authenticity with just three buttons to navigate between the bathroom, arcade, restaurant, school and more.
Of course, this is the 21st century, so things are a bit different. For one thing, when you play Noa Noa! you’re no longer just a kid passing time. Now, you work for a company called Noa Inc., and your prickly employer Baron Von Noa III is advising you on how to grow your Noa’s family lineage, and trade in your Noa’s love (measured in hearts) for stars, which you can use to buy backgrounds and devices. What’s the Baron doing in the virtual pet business? You’ll have to keep playing to find out.
The game also brings an update on decades-old versions by taking some of the action outside the confines of the device. A bath elicits animated bubbles (you can pop them with a quick tap) and a trip to the bathroom elicits a slightly, er, grosser substance smeared all over the gadget’s screen (you’ll want to wipe that away quickly).
Each Noa has its own unique personality, so you’ll get to know which foods your little guy likes and which games it wants to play. And there’s something strangely heart-warming about offering just the right thing to bring a smile on its adorable face.
For the ’90s folks, there may be nothing like your first virtual pet, but a Noa comes pretty darn close and offers a nostalgic trip down virtual pet lane.