Secrets of Yooyuball: Power-up Paradigms
Having been the Altador Cup's main event for almost ten years running, Yooyuball has seen its fair share of ups, downs, and diagonals. Yet the annual fast and furious Yooyu slinging remains one of Neopia's most enduring and captivating sports. There's no shortage of theatrics down on the field, and most of the movie-magic quality of the game owes itself to four little badges that do some very big things. Players and spectators alike know them as the power-ups, and these randomly-appearing boons can turn any game upside down in a matter of seconds. Their inner workings are a mystery to those of us in the stands, but luckily, some of Yooyuball's most prominent players agreed to sit down with us to shed some light on these infamous game-changers.
The first and perhaps most recognizable power-up is the Speed Boost: a tiny white wing that sends those fortunate enough to grab it careening across the field. To anyone who's never had the privilege of touching one of these feathered trinkets, it may seem wild or even dangerous. How does a Neopet body cope with the sudden change in speed, and isn't it risky to have players shooting from goal to goal with no regard for their safety?
Krawk Island's own Feldon "Dinksy" Collibridge tells us there's no cause for any alarm.
"Nah, it's safe as safe can be," she says. "We pirates have definitely seen worse, if you catch my drift!" Her wings flap as she laughs. "But seriously, we train year-round for this stuff. If you can't handle the speed, then you can't handle the field, either. Nobody's gonna be bashing into walls after grabbing a wing. Well, at least nobody from Krawk Island's gonna be doing that!"
Roo Island's Fenny Vail was also eager to offer up her personal experiences with Speed Boost.
"Oh, it really does feel like you're flying! It's like your entire body just gets picked up by the wind, and suddenly you're halfway across the field before you've even had a chance to blink!" She claps her paws together, gleeful in her recollections. "It's such a rush. I may have been guilty of tripping into the ground my first couple of times, but like Dinksy said: that's why we train."
There is one recurring question concerning this power-up: does it provide an unfair advantage?
Vail says no. "It's all just another part of the games," she tells us. "They wouldn't be very exciting or fun if it was just the same thing over and over again, right? All the power-ups are a big part of what makes Yooyuball so awesome!"
While the use of Speed Boost carries its fair share of debate, no power-up is steeped in more controversy than Goal Expansion. When activated, it does exactly what the name implies, and the opposing team's goal instantly doubles its size. But there are those who claim that Goal Expansion is simply too powerful.
One Yooyuball team member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, wants it banned altogether.
"It makes goalies look stupid! They're the backbone of each and every game and this thing makes it impossible for them to do their jobs."
The anonymous player also could not offer any insight into the power-up's secrets.
"I don't know how it works and I don't care. Goalkeeping is a serious profession and so many people don't get that. If nobody's able to guard that goal, you're done. This game needs a lot of things but a bigger goal is NOT one of them!"
On the other side of the issue is Brightvale's Captain Montecito, who considers Goal Expansion to be a valuable asset to the game.
"I can't imagine playing without it," he says. "Anyone who would say otherwise is just a sore loser. This power-up allows any player to score a goal, no matter their size or strength. It's the perfect equalizer in a tied game."
Surprisingly, the controversy surrounding what is perhaps the outright strongest power-up is minimal. The overwhelming favorite among the interviewed players is none other than the so-called Mystery Power-Up. What it does is anything but a mystery; anyone with two, three, or even one Mutant eye can see a player's size quadruple in seconds, even from the tip top of the snoutbleed section. Is this rapid growth merely a trick of the light, or is it something more substantial?
"Oh no, you really do grow bigger," says Derlyn Fonnet, Captain of Team Kreludor. "It's a weird sensation, suddenly stomping all over the field like the Monoceraptor on Tyrannia. I'm not clear on how exactly it does its thing, but there are a lot of rumors."
She smiles when pressed for more details.
"I've been told it's a combination of a transformation potion – brewed by Kauvara, of course – and vitamins. Lots and lots of vitamins." She sits back, a contemplative expression on her face. "But like I said, it's all just rumors. I'm willing to bet only the Altador Cup Committee knows the real answers."
The Altador Cup Committee did not respond to our request for comment.
The final power-up's biggest fans hail from Team Moltara, singing the praises of Freeze Opponent from dawn to dusk.
"We're already a few hundred degrees hotter than most players," defender Zax Bannet explains. "If there's anyone who needs to be encased in a literal block of ice in order to cool down during a game, it's us."
The rest of the team laughs in agreement.
"Of course," Bannet continues, "that usually means we lose a goal to the other team, but when your face is burning from all the fiery sweat on it? Sometimes a little reprieve is worth one lost point."
"Which could explain our poor performance throughout our first years," Captain Aldric Beign quips.
The team erupts into laughter again.
While still shrouded in mystery for the most part, it's clear that these four badges remain vaunted for most of their seasoned users. With the exception of a few, it seems that each power-up's benefits are appreciated, respected, and enjoyed by the majority of current Yooyuball players. They don't so much care about how they work, just that they do work.
And work they do indeed.
In the end, "Spikes" Barmie sums it up best in his native Tyrannian dialect:
"Power-up ugga. Losing uhhg uuuuuuhhhhgggg." He huffs, nodding stately. "Power-up ugga."