From the creator of the Katamari Damacy (review coming soon) series, Noby Noby Boy is an odd game to say the least. This isn’t a title that’s going to keep you playing for hours on end, but is it worth buying just for the ‘WTF’ moments?
Noby Noby Boy was created by Keita Takahashi of Namco Bandai, and was released for the PlayStation 3 in February 2013 and for iOS a year later. ‘Nobi’ in Japanese means ‘stretch’ and this is what you’ll spend most of your time doing in this title. In an interview with Develop, Takahashi said that he wanted to ‘break the barriers between toy and game’ but felt ‘not completely satisfied with the game, in terms of quality, due to the restrictions on budgets’.
I can see where he’s going with trying to create more of a toy than a game and he has accomplished that in my opinion. I originally downloaded Noby Noby Boy because it sounded like fun and was released during the yearly drought of new games in February; it also featured SIXAXIS control and realistic physics along with Trophies, so it seemed like a no-brainer. At first the title is a surreal experience, feeling like a typical sandbox game where you are free to roam, while the physics-based world gives you a lot to play with.
The idea behind Noby Noby Boy is to control the elastic worm-like character known as Boy, and using the two analogue control sticks of the SIXAXIS you can independently move both ends of his body to stretch and move him around. The aim is to grow as long as possible to earn points that are submitted online to Girl, another worm-like creature who stretches from Earth out into the solar system. As gamers from around the world play, their collected points stretch Girl out to the moon and beyond and this in turn unlocks new environments for Boy to play in; by the end of 2011, Girl had made it out all the way out to Uranus.
Features like this are rare and I can only think of a few examples of games that have enabled players to collectively progress towards a goal over the internet. At the time of release it added something to keep people interested, but I suspect that most people actually downloaded Noby Noby Boy for its easy-to-earn Trophies.
Beyond stretching, Boy can roam his environment to interact with physics-based objects and characters including animals and weird creatures that are either scared of the worm or jump on his back and ride along. If you stretch long enough and are patient, you’ll often find Boy covered with people which can be a funny experience. Once you’re bored of giving citizens rides around town, you can switch to eating items and animals by pressing the L2 button – which can then be sent flying out of the worm’s backside for hilarious results (check out the gameplay video below).
What makes the game fun is the ability pick up and play Noby Noby Boy without the need for objectives or storylines: it’s just about playing around with what is essentially a toy, just as Takahashi intended. It won’t appeal to any gamers looking for depth or a challenge, but helpfully it can be used to keep younger kids quiet for an hour or so.
The graphics of Noby Noby Boy are simple and clean; there are no performance issues here and the PlayStation 3 has no problem in giving a smooth experience. The SIXAXIS motion control is used to control the view point, which can be annoying if you aren’t paying attention to how you’re handling the pad, and even more annoying is that you can’t switch this off. While this title won’t break any awards for graphical prowess, it does do the job well enough to not distract from or affect the gameplay in anyway and it’s possible to record footage straight to YouTube.
Noby Noby Boy is full of calm and child-like background music along with the squelchy sounds Boy makes, and of course the particular noises involved in releasing previously-devoured objects or people. An offline multiplayer mode was added in April 2009 for up to four players, along with new content such as hair styles for Boy’s house; however, beyond the standard gameplay and contribution to Girl in unlocking new environments, once you’ve grabbed all twelve Trophies there isn’t much else to do. I’ve only now revisited the game to do this review but otherwise haven’t touched it since I first played it.
If the images in this review, the simplicity of the gameplay and the idea of Boy amuses you in any way then Noby Noby Boy is definitely worth buying. If you’re looking at the game and wondering ‘Why?’, then you may want to move along as you could be wasting your time. That being said, I enjoyed my brief time with the worm and also revisiting the game for the purpose of this review.
How did we reach these scores? Click here for a guide to our ratings.